Surfing with Dr. Bronner’s

“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” – Phil Edwards

If you are a frequent or long-time surfer then you are all too familiar with the types of ailments that can plague surfers and make their lives miserable. Although maladies like swimmer’s ear, sprains or jellyfish stings cannot be helped by Dr. Bronner’s (as far as we know!), our products ARE very helpful for a few of the annoyances that surfers face.

Washing Your Wetsuit

It can be tempting to wash your wetsuit infrequently or not at all. Most surfers I know simply give it a rinse with the hose and hang it up to dry after a session. Although this step is crucial, and your suit should be rinsed after every time you use it, it is unfortunately not enough to keep your wetsuit in good shape.

The problem is that just rinsing with water will not get the salt out of all the nooks and crannies, and salts will eventually build up and start to damage the suit. An additional problem is that our oceans are not as pollution-free as they should be. In many municipalities, storm drains go straight into the ocean, and so especially after it rains, the ocean is full of microbes that can make you sick. Washing your wetsuit with soap can keep the microbes at bay while ensuring that the salts are washed off.

The easiest way to do this is to use a bucket (a mop bucket tends to be the right size for this), although a large tub works fine too. Fill the bucket with cold water (not warm or hot), then add a squirt or two of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap. Let it sit for an hour or two, then rinse off thoroughly with cold water and hang up to dry. Never put your wetsuit in the drier.

Treating Surf Rash

Surf rash can have different causes, so the first thing is to figure out what kind of surf rash you actually have. A useful distinction is between “surfboard rash” and “wetsuit rash.” Surfboard rash is often caused by the friction in between you and the surfboard. The surfboard wax traps sand and turns it into an abrasive surface—so if you’re surfing shirtless what you probably have is surfboard rash. This can be easily prevented by wearing protective gear like a rashguard.

A wetsuit rash is actually a bit more complicated and is indirectly your skin’s reaction to salt and water. Salt and water can cause the healthy bacteria that normally live on your skin to produce biofilm, or a slime-like substance. The bacteria view the salty water as a dangerous environment and secrete biofilm as a defense. This film can block your sweat glands and trigger a rapid immune response that causes an itchy rash. Your wetsuit is definitely not helping in this situation, as it’s restricting air flow that could prevent your sweat glands from clogging. And this is also why a rashguard, if worn under a tight-fitting wet suit, may not prevent this kind of rash.

Wetsuit rash is really no different from heat rash or prickly heat. The ingredients are salt, heat, restrictive clothing… and the result is a painful rash that can appear as red bumps or a laceration. If you try to get back in the water at this point… talk about putting salt on a wound!

Our recommended treatment is a two-step process that will provide instant relief and put you back on the path to healing. First, shower off with our Pure-Castile Soap—liquid or bar soap will both work fine. The Peppermint soap might sting a bit, so you may want to go with a gentler scent like Baby Unscented or Almond. Showering with our Pure-Castile Soap will achieve the first and crucial task: to wash the salt off of your body as well as the offending biofilm which your skin’s naturally-occurring bacteria have produced.

The second step simply requires you to let the affected area air out. Once you’ve finished showering and gently drying with a towel (or air-drying), either leave the irritated area uncovered, or wear loose fitting clothes. Making sure that there is air flow to the affected area will mean faster healing of the rash.

But what if you want to get back in the water or need to wear tight fitting clothes? This is when our Unscented Organic Magic Balm can be a real life saver. The balm will do two important things to prevent the rash from reoccurring or getting worse. First, it will provide some much needed lubrication to keep your wetsuit or clothes from rubbing against and irritating the affected area. Second, it will provide a bit of a seal that prevents the salt water from getting right up against your skin. Just remember that the balm is no substitute for soap and airflow when it comes to completely healing the rash.

Soothing Sore Muscles

If you surf, then you know that it is an incredibly demanding sport. You’re paddling constantly against the tide and often being thrown right into it. The repeated physical exertion and pummeling can cause your muscles to feel very sore and achy. David Bronner, our CEO and an avid surfer himself, started formulating our Arnica-Menthol Organic Magic Balm specifically to help with this problem.

The generous amounts of Arnica, Menthol and Camphor oils, really help to soothe and calm muscles. Rub down your legs and arms before and after a surf session for best results. The base, made from a blend of avocado oil, coconut oil, beeswax, olive oil, jojoba oil and hemp oil, all organically sourced, works much like the Unscented Organic Magic Balm to provide a helpful lubricating seal against the salt water.

Given that we’re headquartered in North San Diego County, next to miles and miles of world-class surfing breaks, it’s no surprise that we’ve developed some products that are especially tailored to the needs of surfers.

“When in doubt, paddle out” – Nat Young

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