A changeable spring is a dangerous thing in this country. It leaves people feeling sun-hungry and reckless and that's exactly when good tans go bad. We're so dying for a bit of vitamin D and even a tiny alteration to our winter pallor that we strip off at the first squeak of sun and expect our complexions to cope. Which they don't. We go red, we go freckled, we go full-on first-degree burns.
While most of our choices today offer high protection, beauty brands don't sell them that way. Instead, they put the emphasis on tan-boosting and sexy textures, and so distract us from boring old sun protection. Yes, we know that skin cancer is far more tedious and our number-one cancer, but no one ever believes it will happen to them. No matter how many times they burn.
With these beauties, however, there's no excuse to fry. Our top five are not only protective, they're pretty too, and ridiculously easy to apply. So really, you've no excuse for the lobster look.
Bioderma Photoderm Bronz SPF 50+, €22, selected independent pharmacies nationwide
This spray oil works to intensify and prolong a tan by stimulating the melanin in your skin. It's not a self-tan. It's a product with very high shields from UVA and UVB rays, but, they promise, you won't be snow-white while using. "I love that they've finally worked out how to get high protection into an oil," said a panellist. "Even if it's only a psychological effect, an oil makes me feel more golden and summery."
Nuxe Refreshing After-Sun Lotion, €20, department stores and selected pharmacies nationwide
Cooling and soothing ingredients are what set after-sun lotions apart from regular body moisturisers, some of which can be so rich that they seal in the heat and keep your skin 'cooking'. This lotion also has 'natural carob powder', which they claim will maintain your tan for up to two weeks. "The smell alone is a summer winner," said one panellist. "Coconut and vanilla. Dreamy holiday."
Lacura Moisturising Sun Spray SPF 15, €3.99, Aldi
This range isn't just brilliant value, it's also award-winning. Aldi's wide range has excellent broad-spectrum protection, which means that it guards against both UVA and UVB rays - the ageing and the burning ones. "This has a nice texture that is light but noticeably moisturising," a panellist said. "Unbeatable value."
Lancome Soleil Bronzer Soothing Protective Milk-Mist SPF 30, €29.95, Lancome counters nationwide
The reason a lot of us love sprays is that you get a finer layer of product on your skin and no heavy, sweaty, sun-cream feel. But not everyone likes an oil. This spray produces a fine spray of very liquid 'milk', that soaks in fast and leaves the skin silky. With oils of argan, monoi, musk rose, which moisturise as well as smelling lovely. "This feels and smells delicious," said one panellist.
Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze Tan Activating Protecting Oil SPF 30, €20.99, available nationwide
They cover all bases in the name of this new-launch sun product, which comes in SPF 20 and 30. It contains an ingredient called Pro Melanin, which Nivea says will boost the intensity of your tan, but it's not a self-tan. There's an after-sun, too, based on the same principle. It's non-greasy and water-resistant. "This smells delightful, and has a nice, dry-oil feel," said a panellist.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine