For Her Eyes Only – Surf tips for girls
All the things you wish that your surfing-mother told you
If you are like me, then most of your surf mentors have been male. A boyfriend, a dad, the old salty dog (aka an older surfer) behind the surf shop counter, or the guy you met in the water. They are the ones that helped you pick the right surfboard, taught you how to attach fins, showed you how to apply wax. And that was awesome, you felt supported and included in the male-dominated sport of surfing.
But along the wave, I’ve had to discover the hard way that there are some issues unique to women’s surfing that the guys just couldn’t teach me. Well, you are in luck sister, I’m going to share my mistakes and the lessons they’ve taught me to. Hopefully, these surf tips for girls will save you from repeating the same mistakes.
#1 Protect your skin and hair at all costs
I learned to surf at 28 years old. I had flawless skin and silky long hair. Like most of us who get bitten hard by the surfing lifestyle, I was instantly obsessed and spend multiple hours in the ocean, for three months straight. By the end of the summer, I could go directional on my longboard, but my skin had aged 10 years and my hair was so fried I had to cut off almost 12 inches! Although I wore a drugstore brand water-resistant sunscreen it just wasn’t enough. Over the years I’ve learned some tricks.
Only use Reef-safe zinc products
For sunscreen, it has to be zinc. There really is no way around it. If you are going to be out in the water for more than a few minutes you really need a thick layer of zinc oxide. There are plenty of natural brands out there that are also reef friendly and don’t leave you white-faced (read our compressive review of natural surf sunscreens). My favorite is Red Gecko. Just make sure, no matter what brand you use, that you SCRUB your face with a rough exfoliator cloth after each use if you are acne prone like me. Or use a biodegradable zinc removing wipe like Tapa Reef (click here for the Australian store).
Condition, rinse, and condition again
For your hair, I put a thick layer of biodegradable conditioner in before I paddle out. Some girls like Pro surfer Courtney Conlogue, prefer coconut or Moroccan oil which I’ve also used, but I feel conditioner tends to stay in better. Another good option is a surf hair mask designed specifically for surfers. Doing this will keep the salt water from stripping moisture from your hair. When you get out the surf, rinse it immediately and condition it again before the sun has a chance to dry it. The longer the salt has an opportunity to sit in dry hair the more damage will be done. Also, remember to wash your hands after applying oil to your hair, you don’t want the oil to end up in your wax!
Pro tip: All the pro surfers use a product called It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in conditioner. Literally, every pro surfer interviewed about their surf tips for girls and hair advice mentioned it as one of their three must-have items. Read more tips from pro surfer girls on looking after your hair.
I believe It’s a 10 Leave-In Conditioner is possibly the most magical thing ever invented. It surprisingly works even better with salt-kissed strands from the ocean, but it’s my savior for restoring my hair when I get out of the water, too.
— Bruna Schmitz, Roxy ambassador and pro surfer in an interview with Teen Vouge
#2 You’re going to get Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Yup, that’s a thing. Especially if you are like me, and you are frothing after a rainy day and you ignore the murky brown water. Even in clean water, any amount of unknown bacteria can get in your lady-parts and cause painful urination along with the frequent urge to go. The first and the best thing you can do is to stay out of dirty water. But sometimes that isn’t enough. When I travel I always take with me cranberry pills, or better yet D-Mannose pills, which is the active ingredient found in cranberries. It basically makes your pee slippery so whatever toxins are in there, they can come out. Now keep in mind I’m not a doctor and you should definitely see yours if you are experiencing any UTI-like symptoms or before taking any supplements or medications. But these work for me.
#3 Choosing the right surfboard
This has been a huge source of frustration for me. You can go on popular surfboard manufacturer websites, enter your height, weight, and skill level and it will suggest a volume for your surfboard. Keep in mind these calculators are made for men. Men tend to have about half the amount of body fat as women. That means they are packing more muscle per pound. Generally, I have found that I need to add about 10% to the volume suggested by the surfboard calculator. Also, I have found that width may be more important for females. We tend to have wider hips, so if you feel you are sliding off the edges of your board, you might want to add a little bit in the width. I have found that half an inch makes a night and day difference. Have a read of our article on what to look for when buying a surfboard or this really in-depth article on how to chose the right surfboard, written by a surf coach and very useful.
#4 Not all swimwear is surfwear!
I had only surfed in a wetsuit in California, so I didn’t think twice when I threw my triangle top, string bikinis in a bag, and hopped a plane for Costa Rica for my first surf trip. I’ll never forget a guy pointing at me in the line up saying, “Amiga, tu tita!”. Boy was that embarrassing!
You will need to invest in some surf-wear that really stays on in the water. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if it is made by a popular surf brand that it is made for surfing in. Also avoid hard moulded plastic, metal or wooden clasps, hooks, buttons, or other unnecessary additions that will jam into your chest or dent your board, while paddling. Lucky we’ve tested several great options for you, and written a whole article on the do’s and don’ts of surf bikinis. We have even designed our the ultimate surf bikini called ‘The Alexa” for Sensi Graves Bikinis (use code stillstoked10 for 10% off).
We are so passionate about not wearing shitty surf bikinis we got you loads of discount codes from our favourite independent, female-owned, surf brands, so you could go shopping and paddle out in confidence.
#5 Manicures and pedicures
Skip it. It will be ruined after the second surf session. Even gel nails don’t hold up to saltwater well.
#6 Getting your legs waxed
OUCH! Did you think the process of waxing hurt? Wait until the salt water gets into those newly opened follicles! I’ve never experienced such pain in my life. In my experience, it only happens after I exit the water and start to dry. Then the itching becomes overwhelming, it’s like being stung my 10,000 mosquitos at once. tick to a razor. Or if you are feeling it, rock a more natural look!
#8 Toiletries & other necessities
There are a few things you discover along the way like surfer’s ear, sea-ulcers, underarm chaffing, and other delights of being a sea-dwelling, surf dog. If you are going on a surf trip, make sure you have everything you need to treat all the (likely) bumps, bruises, cuts and mossie bites that will no doubt happen along the way & could keep you out of the water. We’ve compiled a comprehensive first aid kit for any surf trip which includes things like blister packs that work so well in water, so you can protect your cuts from the nasties and still go for a surf. Oh, and don’t forget that tampons are incredibly hard to find in remote areas of many Asian countries. Like wax and a ding repair kit, them with you!
Read our packing list of all the essential items you will need for a successfulful surf trip.
#8 The Girls
Last but not least, find some surf sisters. Surfing is fun no matter who you are with but it is always nice to paddle out with a girlfriend. Most of the girls in the lineup are probably wishing they had more surf girlfriends too, so introduce yourself and make some new friends.
More tips for surfer girls:
Surf Hair Care – Pro surfer tips on how to look after beach hair
Surf Hair, Do Care: How to get beach blonde surfer hair
How to lighten hair naturally without bleach and get surfer highlights
Surfer Girl Style – Top 10 surf fashion staples
The Do’s and Don’ts of Surf Bikinis
Best Surf Bikinis – Review of top active swimwear brands + discount codes
Best Surf Sunscreen – Full review & breakdown of top brands
Feel free to share in the comments below, any other surf tips for girls that you’ve found useful. Sharing is caring ladies x