Sunbathing or Burning?

Sunny Girl

We’ve all seen them, and most of us have been them, the lobsters on the beach desperate, after a long English winter, to soak up every ray of sun without a thought for the UV damage.

The problem is, after months of hardly seeing the sun, and certainly no strong sun, our skin isn’t ready for the real thing.

Those who rush to the beach or pool side immediately after disembarking from the plane and sunbathe for 5 hours straight all too often end up looking like a flaky lobster for the rest of the holiday.

Pain, blisters, difficulty moving, cancelling tours due to the discomfort are the all too common symptoms of the desperate English holiday maker. And the worst part is the tan doesn’t stick. In fact, there is no tan!!!

This seems to be something that people too often forget. If you burn badly you simply peel. It won’t miraculously turn into a tan, it’ll just be red, painful, itchy and flaky. And by the time you get home you’re either patchy or pasty white again.

So what can you do???

First of all, buy a fabulous hat and a few different strengths of sunscreen before you fly away. If you’re very fair and have been indoors since last October, start with at least factor 30, 50 would be better. Plaster yourself in it on the first day of your holiday.

On the second day move down a few factors to 25. How long you stay at this level will depend on your skin type, how long it’s been since your upper legs and tummy had a peek at the sun and how hot your holiday destination is.

Don’t move down to 10 or 15 until you’re sure you’re ok and even then, if you’re going to be lying on the beach for hours move back up to 20 or 25. Anytime you’re stationary the sun literally bakes your skin. If you’re going to the market or touring, then a lesser strength sunscreen should be fine, especially if you wear a chic, wide brimmed hat.

At the end of every day have a cool shower, carefully dry off and then moisturise everywhere. If you have burned a bit (it should only be a bit!) you should immediately apply aloe vera gel or an after sun gel or cream. Moisturising keeps your skin from peeling and effectively locks in the tan, for a little while at least.

And please, please be careful of your breasts if on a nude or topless beach. The skin there almost never (and in most people’s cases absolutely never) sees the sun and it is about as delicate as a baby’s skin. If you want to topless sunbathe smother your lovelies in the strongest factor sunscreen you have. Anyone who has experienced a boobie burn will agree that it’s not fun.

Don’t forget the hat. Your lovely headdress should stay with you anytime you go out. Your face gets more sun than any other part of your body and it is the first part of you that shows your age so spare everyone the leather lines. Stick some day cream (SPF 15 or higher) on and glue that hat to your head.

Building up a tan by carefully controlled sunscreen application is the best way to go. Teemed with a religious attitude towards moisturising, this method almost guarantees a lovely, enviable tan by the end of your holiday. No peeling, no blisters, no pain. Just lovely sun kissed skin. And your older self will thank you for the lack of sun damage.

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