If you’re planning to hit the golf course every weekend this summer – and the occasional weekday, if you can swing it – consider sunscreen just as essential as your irons and your visor. Blue skies as far as you can see also means prolonged sun exposure, which not only visibly damages skin (read: wrinkles), but does so at a more cellular level, too (read: skin cancer). “Skin cancer is very common among golfers,” says dermatologist David Colbert, MD, founder of New York Dermatology Group in New York City. And is perfecting your spin shot worth basal cell carcinoma? Probably not.
Not all sunscreens are created equal. Mineral sun-protective ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, remain on the surface of the skin, where they reflect the sun’s damaging UV rays away from skin. Chemical sunblockers, on the other hand, sink into skin, where they actually absorb the sun’s rays. These chemical ingredients, such as avobenzone and oxybenzone, have come under scrutiny lately for their potential side effects in the body, as well as the harm they may cause to ocean life. They’re more prone to stinging and causing inflammatory reactions, particularly when sweat is factored in—and that can throw off your game. “When you’re golfing, the last thing you want is a chemical sunblock getting into your eyes and causing you to tear or have a skin reaction,” Colbert says.
That’s why NYDG Chem-Free Active Defense SPF 30
deserves a spot of honor in your golf bag. The mineral-based formula protects skin, but doesn’t contain chemical ingredients or irritate sensitive skin types. While mineral blockers have typically been known to be chalky and tough to blend, “the zinc oxide is micronized so you can’t see it, and it’s good on all skin tones,” says Colbert. Meanwhile, squalane and argan extracts, which are rich in protective antioxidants, play defense against environmental aggressors and double as moisturizer.
It bears noting that you’ve got to slather it on. Colbert purposely designed a generous tube so you won’t run out after three applications. Don’t skimp: “Remember to put it on and behind your ears – and if men don’t have hair, then apply it on the scalp,” he says. Though the old directive of applying a shot glass-worth of sunscreen is still better than nothing, the ideal amount varies from person to person, since humans aren’t one-size-fits-all. Make sure you’re applying enough so your skin is completely covered – and therefore thoroughly protected – so you can keep all the focus on your follow-through.