There are few things worse than proper sunburn, and I should know. When my parents first emigrated to Rome in the seventies, I was that lily white child on the beach. I can’t remember if sun screen even existed back then, but I do remember the agony of blistered shoulders and skin raw to the touch.
Growing up in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the cult of sun-worshipping was at its height. Women - and men - would lie on foil sun-mats, all the better to intensify the rays of the sun. They would sit with fold-out reflectors under their chins, browning to a crisp. The aim was to go as dark as humanly possible. It worked, of course - but the long term effects were pretty devastating.
Back then, the link between premature ageing of the skin and sun exposure was not fully understood. Which is why I’m so grateful for the fact that my English skin simply could not withstand prolonged exposure to the Italian sun. If I had been able to I would have joined my school friends; instead, I was forced to lurk in the shade. I was teased for my pallor; but had I not been so sun-sensitive, I too would look like a dried-up old prune by now.
The effects of sun-damage take approximately 20 years to translate into wrinkles and sun-spots, which is why it is so important to protect skin right from the start. you are really not doing your children any favours if you don’t protect them properly on the beach.
A light tan is fine - the key thing is to let the skin acclimatise slowly and gradually, and not to allow it to burn.
Over the years I have tried countless brands of sun-tan lotion and I can honestly say the only one worth having is Ultrasun. On holiday this week in Greece with my own children and another family - whose kids are white-haired and paler than pale, we didn’t have a single incident of burned skin.
The ghost children had just one daily application of Ultrasun’s Factor 50 ; mine - who are dark-haired and a bit swarthier - used the once-a-day Clear Sun Protection Sports Gel in Factor 20 - doesn’t smell, doesn’t budge, extremely easy to apply to wriggly small people. They were all in and out of the sea and swimming pool, and not once did I have to reapply - which also makes it extremely good value for money.
I treated myself to Ultrasun’s Factor 20 for body with shimmer , which I fancy added a flash of glamour. Face-wise, though, I stuck to Factor 50 - I’ve come this far without too much sun damage, why ruin it now? This specific face cream doubles brilliantly as a daily moisturiser, even for my over-dry skin.