Reading Time: 3 minutes

Usually, I’m not the sort of person who likes lying around sunbathing. I find it quite tedious laying about and generally uncomfortable being in the sun for long periods. I normally prefer holidays that take in lots of sights, experiences, tastes, smells and visits to historic places, to churches, museums, mountains, rivers etc. But this year I just can’t be bothered. It takes a lot of effort to plan visits especially with kids. Suddenly laying about doing nothing seems like heaven.

So lets get on with the serious business of professional sunbathing. My wife has this sunbathing lark organised like a military exercise, with a plethora of different bottles and creams. We have with us factors 2, 4, 8, 15, 25, 30, 35 and 40. We have cream, extra waterproof for kids, sticks, hypo-allergenic and sprays. Then of course we have after-sun creams and moisturisers to prevent the hard earned tan falling off again.

The scientific process of melanocyte production in the lower epidermis is not something that should be rushed into lightly. The most dangerous time for anyone venturing out from beneath the dark veil of darkness that is England out into the serious ultra violet bombardment that is just about everywhere else, is the first couple of days. This is a time for the big guns, the factor 40 and 30 should be loaded and readied for action. This helps the skin soften up a bit for the real barbecuing that comes later.

Special attention should generally be paid to those areas that don’t see the sun very often. Of course, being English this is just about everywhere. But if exposing extra flesh by wearing swimming trunks, bikini etc, some very white flesh needs higher protection for longer.

After a week in this sun, my skin needs little more now than a factor 4 applied regularly. The sun doesn’t seem to be burning any longer although we have been keeping out of the sun during the hottest part of he day. Of course, the English are not used to Siesta time, if the sun is out at noon, hiding inside and going to sleep may mean missing the sun altogether. I think this is what gave rise to the expression ‘only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’. Even at temperatures of 42 degrees C in the shade, 55C in the sun, most of the English are still outside, roasting their tits off.  Mad dogs indeed.

One question I am left asking is ‘Why do the light skinned people of the western world think they look better with a sun tan?’ I am exactly the same, but acknowledge that despite being slightly darker in colour, I’m just as moderately unattractive as when I was anemic looking.Of course colour does make shape and form appear differently – just look at the same car in different colours. But with people, there seems to be another factor. “You look healthy,” remark people upon seeing your newly acquired sun tan. “Healthy? I have just tortured my epidermis in intense ultra violet rays for a week, inducing premature epidermal ageing and likelihood of cell malignancy, how is that healthy?,”

But we all look at people with a tan and think they look healthier, happier, like they have done something good somewhere nice. They are more attractive, seem more successful, etc.etc. I wonder how far back this goes? It is merely a product of the late 20th century society as wealthier people started to travel abroad, with film stars linking the sun tan to exotic locations.. or does it go back further still to travelers arriving from distant lands offering greater diversity to the gene pool within the same race.

Just occasionally there are people I think look better white than brown. Occasionally higher beauty lies in the subtle combination of skin tone and eye colour, sometimes pale is much more beautiful in individuals offering a delicacy and purity that is intimate and alluring.

Personally though, I’d rather be brown as I am totally impure and it can disguise the fact I haven’t shaved for a few days.