Face masks are becoming increasingly popular for outdoor use among people keen to protect their skin from sun damage. While sunscreen is effective too, the protection it offers diminishes over time and in some circumstances a physical barrier is better.

Fishing is a classic example of this. Many anglers spend long periods on the water often dealing with reflected light coming off the water’s surface. Our friends over at Tackle Village always use polarized sunglasses to minimize the impact of this reflected light as well providing protection from the direct sunlight.

Masks, too, are a key part of our sun-protection arsenal. 

The new generation of face masks for sun protection go by a bewildering array of names—gaiters, buffs, neckerchiefs, and many more. Basically, we are talking about the same thing: a thin, breathable, stretchy tubular cloth garment you can stretch over your face or head to provide protection from the sun. With the modern polyester and spandex fabrics used in their construction, these are suitable for wearing even in warm conditions. They are super light, cheap and can be scrunched or folded into a very small space.

How to wear a mask when fishing.

A favorite way to wear a mask among fishermen and women is like a balaclava with the buff covering pretty much all of the face except the region around the eyes and sunglasses. This only really leaves the tips of the ears exposed, so we recommend wearing a hat, either a cap or broad-brimmed , and slip on on some sunscreen too.

And if we end up stepping into some shade, we’ll just roll the mask down so that the garment sits around our neck as a lightweight scarf—in all but the hottest conditions this is not uncomfortable and means we don’t lose or misplace the buff. That’s just a preferred way, but there are plenty of other ways in which a neck gaiter can be worn to provide protection and convenience for both men and women.

To skip or not to skip the sunscreen.

At times, the face mask is sometimes better than using just sunscreen as it offers added protection and in certain circumstances it may be more comfortable. Sometimes when baiting a hook, a fisher may want to avoid sunscreen getting on our hands or gear as it can impart a smell that may turn fish off. Some of the liquid-based sunscreens are not great in dusty areas when windblown particles can stick to the sunscreen which is why we love a broad-spectrum brush-on powder instead! This is also when the gaiter becomes our best friend for sun protection. And this method of protection is equally suited to hiking, boating, hunting or any kind of outdoor activity.

Of course in most situations sunscreen is your first line of defense against UV rays and we of course use it daily, but a face mask is another layer of protection that achieves similar aims in preventing sunburn and protecting your skin from the short, medium and long-term impacts of sun exposure.

The only thing to remember at the moment is while they offer great protection against the sun, buffs are not adequate protection for preventing the transmission of COVID 19. The best fishing face mask that we recommend actually has little holes around where it covers the mouth which is great for breathability and not fogging your glasses, but not for disease control! So before you bait your next hook, grab a mask and make sure to follow these five skincare tips when you’re out on the water.