Two days into my holiday I let myself get myself get hideously, horribly burnt. I didn’t even realise it was happening; I was laboriously applying sun screen every 45 minutes (laboriously because I was using products with SPFs of 30 and 50 and that shit goes on like treacle) and sucking down more fluid than a thirsty fresher. That is, until about 4pm when suddenly I sat bolt upright and realised that a good proportion of my skin was crimson. Like really red. Redder than a king crab with carpet burn. Aesthetically, the tan lines are an absolute disaster. The day I got myself broiled at Typhoon Lagoon I was wearing a triangle print bikini top and the contrast is spectacularly bad. It’s a good thing I own a lot of V-necks because there’s no way I can wear anything else for a good few weeks without looking conspicuously two-tone. Similarly, my luminously white arse was now competing with the red glow of the surrounding sunburn on what I like to call ‘the under-buttock’. Once some of it started to go brown, my entire back end started to resemble a giant, fleshy Neopolitan ice cream. I’d love to have taken a picture as a lesson to everyone else but frankly putting naked photographs of myself on the internet is just not something I can bring myself to do. (Talking about getting a bikini wax and the outsize Rampant Rabbit I once accidentally bought in a fit of drunken lunacy is totally okay though.)
Having said that, I have been talked into putting up this image that my holiday buddy Carla took of me just after we’d come in from under the sun (and I’d changed into a different shaped bikini). Let it be a lesson to you all:
I admit I’m not looking my best, but yup, those are real tears, folks. Real tears and gallons of aloe vera gel. I am one sore-ass fucker. Except my face, astonishingly, which didn’t burn at all throughout the entire holiday, although it’s hard to see in this frankly DEVASTATINGLY ATTRACTIVE photograph because of the light. Honestly, if this isn’t capable of launching a thousand ships I have no idea what will. I might get it framed. I was actually so burned that I was used as a sort of mobile poster child for proper sun protection; two days after this photo was taken we went on a boat trip to swim with some wild manatees – which was absolutely amazing, by the way, if you’re ever in Florida get in touch with the guys at Fun 2 Dive – and our guide, Captain Joe, made me stand on the the prow of the boat to show his partner across the bay, Captain Bill, my flagrant disregard for the sun and its terrible potency. “But I was using factor 50!” I bleated feebly, “every hour!”
“Gee, that’s some A-Mazing sunburn you got there!” one middle-aged lady shouted across to me, ignoring my protests. “What were you doing, baking? You need to use some sun cream! Brody? BRODY. Get out here now, there’s a girl out here with some A-Mazing sunburn! You need to get yourself some aloe to go on that. It looks mighty sore. Like really sore. Is it sore?”
I put my face not burning down to the incredible mineral SPF 30 I was using from Jason. It’s quite thick for a second or two when you get it out of the tube, but then it melts a bit and goes in quite easily. Weirdly, I used a Soltan SPF 50 on my body (the Jason stuff is non-clogging so I wanted to save it for my mug to avoid holiday break-outs) and ended up looking like this, which proves it’s not just the SPF that matters but the quality of the product too. After all, there’s less than 1% difference in the amount of UV rays blocked by SPFs 30 and 50 (but more like a 5% difference between SPFs 15 and 30). These mineral sunscreens aren’t necessarily more expensive than your bog-standard sun cream, but they are so much more effective, kinder to the environment and also won’t break you out into a zit monster when you’re on holiday.
Once you’ve been totally dicked on by Soltan’s inadequate sun protection, aftercare is very important too. Even if you haven’t burned, moisturising is essential after you’ve been out in the sun, otherwise one day y’all end up looking like dehydrated beef briskets. I had Americans left, right and centre telling me to go and get myself some ‘aloe’, complete strangers in the queue for the rollercoaster advising me how to soothe my poor, sore skin. They were right though, it’s bloody good.
Please, learn from my mistakes! Spend your money on a high-quality, mineral SPF 30 sunscreen rather than a cheaper one with a higher SPF. I’d really recommend Jason – I wish I’d used it all over my body instead of just my face – but I’ve heard great things about Badger Balm’s range too. Use SPF 30 even if you don’t burn; UV rays will still penetrate your skin, accelerating the ageing process and increasing your chances of getting skin cancer. And nobody wants that.