Women: surfing is an incredibly feminine sport | Photo: Shutterstock

As the sapphire waves arch and break against an apricot horizon, there's a growing cadre of women carving their marks on the glassy surfaces of the ocean, punctuating the hallowed history of surfing with their tenacity.

Though it is a sport founded on unity with nature and communion with the sea, surfing bears its own set of unique challenges, particularly for women.

We live in an era where the voices of female surfers resonate louder than ever, reverberating across the swells and pushing against the tide of convention.

We distill the wisdom of these sea sirens into a comprehensive guide.

In the ceaseless dance of waves, female surfers not only find joy but also express their resilience, their strength, and their freedom.

Join us in this journey as we uncover the top ten tips to empower every woman who heeds the call of the surf.

Surfing: women have specific needs when it comes to riding waves | Photo: Shutterstock

1. What to Wear? Wetsuits vs. Swimsuits vs. Bikinis

When it comes to surfwear, function meets fashion.

Swimsuits and bikinis, while trendy, often pose issues in terms of proper coverage in cold-to-cool water and during wipeouts.

When choosing a bikini, opt for one designed for water sports.

Wetsuits, with a range of thicknesses and cuts, provide warmth, protection against the sun, and a secure fit.

For tropical climates, spring suits (shorties) or long-sleeved rash guards paired with bikini bottoms or board shorts could be the answer.

Remember, comfort and confidence in your attire equate to better wave performance.

2. How to Do Your Hair

Dealing with hair while surfing is an often overlooked challenge. Saltwater, sun, and wind can wreak havoc on your hair.

Long locks can be troublesome while surfing. A simple ponytail or braid is ideal for keeping hair out of your face.

However, opt for the French braid if you want to up the ante. It keeps the hair together and minimizes tangles.

Alternatively, consider a surf hat.

Post-surf, rinse with fresh water and use a deep conditioner or a DIY vinegar rinse to counteract the harsh effects of salt.

3. Skin and Hair Protection: Pre and Post-Surf Rituals

The surf can be an intense environment for your skin and hair.

Pre-surf, slather on a generous amount of broad-spectrum, water-resistant, reef-safe sunscreen.

Zinc oxide-based creams offer the best protection. Reapply every two hours or after heavy sweating or surfing.

For hair, a pre-surf leave-in conditioner or coconut oil treatment can work wonders.

After surfing, rinse thoroughly and reapply moisturizer and hair treatment.

4. Avoiding Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Female surfers can be susceptible to UTIs due to the bacteria in seawater. Spending extended periods in wet swimwear can increase the risk.

To prevent this, change out of your wet surfwear promptly after surfing and opt for shower-friendly sandals in communal showers.

Drinking water helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract, so stay hydrated.

Urination before and after surfing and probiotics or cranberry extract supplements can also help ward off UTIs.

Women surfing: swimsuits can be a comfortable option in warm water lineups | Photo: Shutterstock

5. Manicure and Pedicure Treatments

For female surfers, the manicure and pedicure question is more about practicality than aesthetics.

A pretty manicure might not withstand the surf. If you still want some color, try durable gel polishes or nail wraps.

For foot care, regular exfoliation to remove callouses and a moisturizing regimen post-surf are suggested.

Do keep your nails short to avoid injuries.

6. Shaving vs. Waxing

While waxing provides a smoother finish, it can cause heightened sensitivity, itching, and discomfort when the saltwater hits freshly waxed skin and after it dries.

Shaving, a more practical option, is gentler on the skin and should be done at least a day before hitting the waves.

Apply a moisturizer afterward to minimize irritation.

Surfing: always protect your skin and hair before and after your session | Photo: Shutterstock

7. Managing Menstruation

Fear not the surf during your period.

Menstrual cups are an eco-friendly, secure option for water sports. They create a seal, preventing leaks.

Tampons are also a popular choice - just make sure to use one with the appropriate absorbency.

These are more practical options than pads, which aren't viable in water.

For those uncomfortable with internal products, period swimwear, a leak-proof alternative, is now available.

Always follow the appropriate hygiene practices, changing your menstrual product immediately after your surf session.

8. Surfing with Breast Implants

While there's limited research on this topic, many surfers with implants haven't reported any complications.

Choose an implant size proportional to your body for balance.

Ensure a proper recovery period post-surgery, usually about six weeks, before hitting the waves.

As always, consult with your doctor before resuming physical activities.

Women surfing: menstrual cups and tampons are the best option for managing period | Photo: Shutterstock

9. Conditioning and Strength Training

Surfing demands a strong, flexible body.

A balanced mix of cardio, strength training, and yoga can help prepare your body for the surf.

Exercises targeting core strength, balance, and upper body endurance are particularly beneficial.

Regular swimming can also help condition your body for prolonged periods in the water.

10. Connecting with Other Female Surfers

Last but far from least, connect with fellow female surfers.

Join local surf clubs or online communities to share experiences, ask for advice, and build friendships.

You will find camaraderie and a wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

Surfing is as much about community as it is about catching waves.

Like any journey, it is a deeply personal experience that brings unique challenges and rewards.

Embrace the surf, cherish the ride, and celebrate the power of women who dare to brave the waves.


Words by Anna Islington | Surfer and Author

Top Stories

Surfers tend to think they perform better than they actually do.

In an emotional message shared on his social media accounts, Filipe Toledo announced his withdrawal from the remainder of the 2024 Championship Tour season.

Barron Mamiya and Caitlin Simmers claimed the 2024 Pipe Pro at Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii.

Local charger Tiago Stock claimed the 10th annual Capítulo Perfeito at Carcavelos Beach, Portugal, by defeating Rob Machado, Dylan Graves, and Balaram Stack in the final.