If you're a regular Tennis Quick Tips listener, then you know that I live in Houston, Texas where our summers our hot, humid and full of sunlight. So each summer I try to do an episode specifically focusing on tips to help you not only play your best tennis in summer conditions, but also letting you know how you can be sure to stay healthy and happy out there.
Lots of Helpful Summer Tennis Tips
In the past, I've talked about lots of things you need to be aware of when playing summer tennis if you want to play your best. In Episode 8, called Hot Weather Tennis Essentials, I gave seven important tips for playing in the sun and heat. Episode 42 is called How to Beat the Heat on the Tennis Court and talks about the different stages of heat-related illness and how you can avoid suffering from it. In Episode 70, called Hydration Tips for Tennis Players and Endurance Athletes, I interviewed my sister who is a doctor and an avid runner and she gave some really great advice on how to stay hydrated when engaging in athletic activities that can last for several hours. Finally, there was Episode 148, called How to Handle the Heat During Your Next Tennis Match and tells you what the rules of tennis provide for us as far as the breaks we can take during a match and how to use those to get some recovery time.
Don't worry – I have links to all of these episodes in the show notes for this episode which you can find over at http://tennisfixation.com/quicktips164. And I suggest you listen to all of those episodes for some great summer tennis tips.
Let's Talk About Sunscreen
So let's start with the basics. You probably know, but maybe not, that sunscreens are products you apply to your skin that help prevent the sun's ultraviolet, or UV, radiation from reaching your skin. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation that can damage your skin and increase your risk of skin cancer – UVA and UVB. Sunscreens may protect you against these harmful rays but you have to pay attention to what you're using as they can vary greatly in their ability to protect you against UVA and UVB.
How Powerful Is Your Sunscreen?
There are two things you can look at to determine how effective your sunscreen is. The first is whether or not your sunscreen is “broad-spectrum.” Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays so you definitely want a product that is broad-spectrum.
The second thing you need to look at is the SPF of your sunscreen. SPF means Sun Protection Factor and it measures the ability of your sunscreen to prevent UVB rays from damaging your skin. So how does it work? If it takes you 30 minutes to get a sunburn when your skin is unprotected and your apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, theoretically you can stay in the sun 15 times longer than you normally would before getting a sunburn. That means you could apply your SPF 15 sunscreen and stay in the sun 7 and a half hours before getting a sunburn. The higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun.
So now, let's talk about various ways you can use sunscreen to block out the sun's harmful rays.
Make Sure Your Gear Is Protecting You
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin is by using gear that blocks out UVA and UVB. Today, you can purchase all kinds of athletic gear that is sun-protective, including clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and eye wear. This type of gear is especially effective because it won't rinse off or lose its potency over time. Some gear is even designed to protect you from the sun and is labeled with a UPF rating. UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. If you are wearing a shirt with a UPF of 30, for example, that means your shirt is only allowing 1/30th of the sun's rays through to your skin.
So what do I do? I have now reached a point where I always wear at least a short-sleeved, dry-fit, athletic t-shirt with a higher neckline. The days of wearing tank tops are gone for me. I also wear a dry-fit cap and sunglasses with an SPF rating. By wearing these items consistently, I make sure that my tennis gear is working as my first line of sunscreen defense.
Use A Facial Sunscreen With A High SPF
One of the big problems with using any sunscreen anywhere on your body is getting a high enough SPF. Yes, sunscreen can be sticky and unsightly and products with higher SPFs can often be even stickier and unsightly-er. But the bottom line for tennis players is – you need to be using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when you're out on the court. Anything less is just not going to protect you well enough or for a long enough time.
I think it can be especially hard to find the right sunscreen for your face when you're a tennis player, especially if you're a female recreational tennis player. I know that what I want is something that is not just effective, but allows me to look like a normal human being both before and after my tennis matches when I may be out running errands. Yes, there are many, many sunscreens out there made specifically to put on your face. And I have tried a lot of them. But I have found that some of these just aren't right for me because either the SPF is not high enough, or they contain chemicals that irritate my skin, or they melt off my face when I sweat and run into my eyes, or they just don't blend in to my skin and leave me with a whitish ghost-like cast on my face.
So right now what I am using is Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen SPF 50 Tinted Face Mineral Lotion.
I put this on first thing in the morning, after moisturizing my face but before any make-up I might wear. I'll warn you – this is a tinted sunscreen which means it has a peachy beige tint added to it. So if your skin is very pale or very dark, this might not look right on you. But I like it because it does not contain harsh chemicals and, because of this tint it has, it does not leave my skin looking whitish.
Another facial sunscreen I like is CeraVe Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30.
This goes on nicely, blends in well, does not contain harsh chemicals and even has ceramides and niacinamides to benefit your face. Unfortunately, it does leave a whitish cast to my skin and I don't like that. So I don't use this one as much now that I've found the Australian Gold sunscreen. But it is still very effective and I would certainly apply it in a pinch.
Finally, there's one more thing thing I use to keep my face protected from the sun. One of the issues I always have on court is that, by the time I am playing my match, it may be several hours since I initially put my sunscreen on my face. And I don't like the idea of touching that sunscreen up by putting a lotion on my face using my dirty hands. So I found a product that I like but I'm sure is not for everyone. It is the Coola SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray and it is a spray I can spritz onto my face without having to actually put anything in my hands or touch my face.
This makes it very easy to apply even in the middle of a match. It does, however, contain chemicals and alcohol and you're not supposed to breathe it in. Which all doesn't sound too great. But this is the best product I've found so far for taking care of my mid-match facial sunscreen needs.
Apply Plenty of Sunscreen To Your Body
Now, as far as the rest of your body, as I said, you definitely need an SPF of at least 30. But in my experience, it is easy to find sunscreens for the body with a much higher SPF rating. The problem for me, and I'm guessing for most people, is not the SPF, but making sure I've applied an adequate amount. And, just like with my facial sunscreen, I want to have the ability to apply sunscreen during my match without getting it all over my hands, my racquet, the tennis ball, etc.
So what I do is apply a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF to my arms and legs first thing in the morning. Right now I am using the Aloe Up Pro 50 Performance Sunscreen Lotion that I got in one of the boxes I recently received from Tennis Trunk.
There are a lot of great sunscreen lotions out there but I like this one because it goes on easy, blends in, doesn't have a very heavy scent and doesn't leave any whitish color on my skin.
Out on the court I always use a spray and I heavily spray my arms, my legs, the back and sides of my neck and my chest. And I usually spray before I start playing and then between sets. I have been very happy with the Neutrogena sunscreen sprays I've used because they are not sticky and don't need to be rubbed in to my skin. The one I'm using these days is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen SPF 100+.
Just know – spray sunscreens aren't cheap as you have to spray quite a bit for them to be effective as the spray can easily blow away from you depending on the wind conditions.
Reapply Sunscreen Often
As I've said, for both my face and my body, I have a sunscreen that I apply first thing in the morning and then I have a second, back-up sunscreen that I apply out on the court. I think it is really important that you re-apply your sunscreen at least once before or during your tennis matches. If you're applying it early in the morning, like I am, it may not be very effective by the time you get out on the court. And once you are on the court, all of the sweating and toweling off that you're doing can wipe away that sunscreen and leave you unprotected. That's why I like to have these spray versions of sunscreen that I can quickly and easily apply even on changeovers without making a mess or asking for everyone to halt for a second while I put on my sunscreen.
So those are my best tips for protecting your skin and putting all kinds of sunscreen to work out on the tennis courts. To review those were:
- Wear tennis gear that provides you with protection from the sun.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on your body, especially on your face.
- Apply plenty of sunscreen to your face and all over your body.
- Reapply sunscreen during your matches and make sure you have a sunscreen that you can quickly and easily apply on court.
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE
Check out these other Tennis Quick Tips podcasts mentioned in this episode:
- Hot Weather Tennis Essentials – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 8
- How to Beat the Heat on the Tennis Court – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 42
- Hydration Tips for Tennis Players and Endurance Athletes – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 70
- How to Handle the Heat During Your Tennis Match – Tennis Quick Tips Episode 148
THANKS TO THE SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE!
This week's podcast episode was sponsored by Tennis Trunk, the only subscription box service for tennis players. You can check out Tennis Trunk by clicking to go to their website:
And – bonus! – the folks at Tennis Trunk have been nice enough to provide a special discount just for Tennis Quick Tips listeners. Just enter the promo code TENNISFIXATION at check-out for free shipping on your first Tennis Trunk!
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