Tennis Identity

Eliminating sunscreen sweat

One thing that I love about playing tennis in Southern California winters is that I don’t have to deal with applying sunscreen as frequently. Now make no mistake, I love what sunscreen does. I really appreciate how it protects my skin, prevents excessive tanning, and fights photo-aging. However, what I don’t like is playing with sunscreen.

When I play under the baking-hot Southern California sun, I sweat a lot (see Rafa above in Australia) . With that, the sunscreen sweats off too. Soon enough, I not only feel wet, I also feel like I just took a nosedive into a pool of milk. Hence the name, Sunscreen Sweat.

And then there’s reapplication of sunscreen, which is a hassle. It gets especially messy trying to put sunscreen on a drippy, sweaty-wet body.

Playing tennis with sunscreen is a difficult and annoying endeavor. But no worries, here are 5 things that you can do to alleviate the difficulties that arise when getting sweaty with sunscreen.

1] Use a Towel

Like salt and pepper, or peanut butter and jelly, towels and sunscreen go hand-in-hand! In fact, I believe they should be sold together in stores. To eliminate sweaty sunscreen-milk dripping off of your chin and lingering around your neck, make sure to bring a towel and wipe it off during breaks. Water attracts water, therefore when you start to sweat you tend to sweat even more. This is due in part to the hydrophilic nature of water molecules. Therefore, be sure to dry yourself off with a towel as much as possible.

2] Wear a Headband and Wristband

If sunscreen-sweat is getting into your eyes, consider wearing a headband! Likewise, if your hands feel slippery off your racket handle, consider wearing a wristband. Both items do a pretty decent job of soaking up excess sunscreen so that they don’t get into your eyes and hands respectively.

3] Consider wearing Hats

Hats are really effective against “sunscreen-sweat”, especially if you have short hair, like myself. That is because hair acts like a towel and actually help soak up bodily oils and secretions, like sweat.

Hats are kind of like headbands, except they also help shield your eyes against the sun. So long as you keep the hair off of the forehead, you should be good to go.

4] Be sure to reapply every 30 minutes.

Although certain sunscreen brands market themselves as being waterproof and/or sweatproof, I highly doubt it. I mean, it’s probably NOT waterproof and sweat proof, especially when you become a big puddle of sweat under the sun. My point here is that you’re probably safer reapplying sunscreen every 30 minutes.

Sunscreen, when applied to our skin, forms a protective film. When that film gets wet, it dribbles off. Therefore, applying new sunscreen is like replacing the old, wet protective film with a new and dry protective film. If the sunscreen is still dry, it’s not sunscreen sweat!!

5] Wear Moisture-Wicking Clothing

Traditional cotton shirts essentially act as thin blankets over our bodies. Thermodynamically speaking, they serve as insulators, making our bodies warmer than they should be, and inducing sweat.

Therefore, wearing moisture wicking clothing can help eliminate sweating, and subsequently sunscreen sweat. These special kinds of fabric contain hydrophilic-sweat-directing polyesters that can help push sweat into the fabric for evaporation. This sort of technology can be found in items such as Adidas’s climalite or Nike’s Dri-Fit lineup.


Men’s moisture wicking tennis apparel from:

 adidas USA | adidas Europe &  Nike USA | Nike Europe

Women’s moisture wicking tennis apparel from:

adidas USA | adidas Europe & Nike USA | Nike Europe

So there they are, 5 tips to stay Sunscreen-Sweat free! And as always, be sure pack sunscreen in your tennis bag – and don’t forget an extra towel!

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