At the risk of stating the obvious, as equestrians we spend a lot of time outside. We spend every day of our springs, summers and falls (and winters if you attend a winter circuit/live in a sunny climate) outside in the sun. Whether it’s at a horse show, riding, training or watching, riding at home, doing chores, yard work or any of the other multitudes of things that you can find yourself doing outside with your horse or on the farm. The importance of protecting your skin from the sun is a topic that is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on but someone who spends almost all her time horse showing, I’ve found equestrians to be repeat offenders of ignoring the risks of sun damage.
Many years ago, I was at a local horse show and was not wearing sunscreen. The UV rating was high that day but as it wasn’t a particularly hot day, I was young, pale and careless. That day I got the worst sunburn I’ve ever gotten, my face was red, blistered and painful and the experience was enough to scare me straight when it comes to sun protection. Luckily, my father is a physician and cared for my skin, allowing it to heal properly without permanent damage but since that day I have been incredibly conscious of the importance of protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
I have a VERY fair complexion and I burn before I tan. This obviously plays a huge part in why I’m so meticulous about my sun protection, but even those who tan easily are at risk of sun damage. Even if you don’t burn, any tan indicates damage to your skin. I know, tans look great so this is a sad fact. Over 75% of skin cancer cases are attributed to excessive sun exposure. Sunburns greatly increase the risk of developing melanomas in the future as damaged skin cells are at a greater risk of becoming abnormal and cancerous. Learn more about skin cancer, sun protection and statistics here and here.
Now with all of that being said, there are many different products on the market now designed specifically for equestrians to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays and I’ve got them all in one place for you plus a few extras!
Of course, facial sunscreen is super important. I have used many different brands in an attempt to find one that I like that doesn’t cause breakouts, clog pores, make my face oily/shiny and that truly protects. Included are links to two of my recommended facial sunscreens, a wallet-friendly drugstore steal and a higher-end favourite. Neutrogena Clear Face Break-Out Free Liquid-Lotion Sunblock SPF 30 can be found at your local drugstore at varying SPFs, Neutrogena also has an Age Shield line of facial sunscreens for those who desire it. La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid Extreme is my current facial sunscreen under the Florida sun and I am very impressed with it. It offers great protection, doesn’t sweat off and makes my skin look and feel great. Both of these options (and lines) are oil-free and look great with or without makeup.
Some people wear it, some don’t. If you’re a makeup kind of person, make sure to look for makeup that includes SPF! I prefer BB creams and tinted moisturizers as they are lightweight and almost always contain SPF, while many foundations and powders are also beginning to include sun protection in their products. There are no cons to wearing makeup with SPF in it and the added SPF only adds extra sun protection on your face. Another Horse Junkie recommended Rodan & Fields Peptide Powder to me. She said “I am NOT a make up girl. But you can’t feel it, it’s not sticky, doesn’t give me pimples and I can pre-load the brush, cap it, and stick it in my barn bag to reapply as needed”. This powder is mineral based and comes with SPF 20!
I am very picky about my full body sunscreens. I hate the sticky feeling that most sunscreens can leave and I don’t like heavy lotions or strong scents. I have found the right sunscreen for me in Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen SPF 70. This sunscreen is super light, quick and easy to apply, non-greasy, doesn’t sweat off (water resistant), non-comedogenic and broad spectrum. Best of all, it really works and is available is varying SPFs for those who want more or less protection.
Lips are often forgotten in terms of sun protection but are equally important as your lips can burn just like the rest of your body! Look for lip balms that contain SPF like this one and this one. For added protection, I use an intended lip sunscreen and my personal favourite is the Sun Bum brand. My lips have not burnt since discovering this product, that is also nourishing and available in 6 different flavours!
If you’ve made it this far into this article, congratulations! You’ve made it to the fun part! More and more equestrian companies are jumping on the sun protection bandwagon, providing us with stylish and practical options to shield us from the sun.
I LOVE my equivisor, like a lot, maybe too much. For those of you not familiar with this product, an equivisor is a sun visor designed to fit around around your helmet and shield your face from the sun. It has grips on the inside so it stays put while you ride and fastens with velcro so it fits any size and brand of helmet. The added bonus of an equivisor is that while keeping the sun off of your face and neck while you ride, it also keeps you slightly cooler in hot, sunny weather. You see them everywhere during the winter and summer circuits because they’re not only very practical but they also look pretty cute. Samshield also makes a sun visor specific to their brand providing the same benefits. Visors have become a trend out of the saddle too. Whether you are watching, grooming or any other outdoor past time, visors, sun hats and ball caps are always a go-to to protect your face. Scala makes classic visors, wide brim visors and sun hats to protect your face.
Sun shirts are one of equestrian fashion’s biggest trends right now. Sun shirts are designed to be lightweight and comfortable while offering SPF 50+ protection from the sun. Most sun shirts also use IceFil fabric, IceFil fabric is designed to convert sweat into cooling energy meaning that you stay cool even during hot rides. Certain brands even claim to cool the body by as much as 5 degrees using this technology. Tailored Sportsman sun shirts are a favourite of mine, other brands also include EIS, Asmar, Better and Court and Noble Outfitters. Sun shirts have become so popular that they even make them in show shirt form now to keep you protected in and out of the show ring, such as this Ariat show shirt at a great price.
And there you have it, a few tried and true products to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy and youthful now and into the future!