Water Baby

Polaroid series: Surfer Sophie Hellyer talks us through cold-water swimming, her sport essentials and the stories they hold

By Sophie Hellyer

I’ve lived by the ocean for most of my life and I’ve always enjoyed documenting my coastal adventures with photos. I remember getting my first Polaroid camera when I was 16, around the time I first got sponsored as a surfer by Roxy, and I took all kinds of pictures on my travels. I rediscovered a few of those snaps recently – I love how imperfect and unique they all are. Seeing them again reminded me how exciting the medium is: there’s nothing quite like the thrill of waiting patiently as a Polaroid image develops in the darkness of your coat pocket before you can finally pull it out and see the results.

Although I no longer surf as regularly as I used to, I still try to spend at least a few minutes in the sea each day – even if it’s bitterly cold and most people would rather be tucked up by the fire! Being in the ocean helps me to feel recharged and gives me a sense of routine. A few years ago, I started a community called Rise Fierce which aims to inspire other women through cold-water swimming. I’m a bit of a safety nerd at heart, so whenever people message me to ask for recommendations or tips, I usually respond with a bit of a ‘Safety Sophie’ vibe. You’ll see what I mean…

Polaroid series Sophie Hellyher surfing suncream

When you spend as much time in the ocean as I do, it’s super important to protect your skin. When I was younger, I didn’t take sun protection very seriously and I remember one year, surfing in Indonesia, I got burnt so badly I couldn’t get out of bed for days. Since then, I’ve tried just about every suncream on the market, but the one I really trust is REN’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF30. It has a discrete matte finish and it lasts well in water. My skin is really sensitive, especially around my eyes, and its naturally derived formula doesn’t cause any irritation for me. Other suncream brands I use are Sunbum, Green People and Tropic. On an ethical note, I always try to buy products and packaging that are cruelty-free, vegan and made from recycled plastics, and I try to share these things with my followers on Instagram because I’d love it if this kind of ethical consumerism became commonplace.

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