• Julia

Sunbathing: how I maximise pleasure and reduce risks

Summer is here. And we waited for it for years and years (ok, months, but it felt like years!): we endured weeks of cold blistering wind, incessant downpours of rain, and even hail. But the warm sun is shining again in the firmament and the air is vibrating with a sultry bass note. Summertime at last, and it’s hard not to show some skin and bask in the heat o’ the sun for hours. The way I tan is particularly important to me, because my aim is to maximise relaxation and minimise the side effects such as sunburns.

[Disclaimer: This is not a medical article and must not be treated as such. For tips on safe tanning consult medical authorities and/or your doctor.]

1. The right sun cream: I use SPF50+, UVA, high protection for fair and sensitive skins. This is a must for me after I read an article on Cosmopolitan which advised its readers to ensure their sunscreen had “the term ‘broad spectrum’ or the UVA logo plus the word ‘high’” . I also always make sure my sunscreen has no perfume in it to prevent allergic reaction. Since I’m often sunbathing in the park or in my room and have a blanket or picnic rug underneath me, most of the sun cream is absorbed or often wiped, so I reapply regularly, especially when I turn, to the parts that have been in contact with the blanket. This is the main reason I opt for 200ml or larger tubes because when I factor in the regular reapplication of the cream, it's more cost effective and affordable.

Garnier Sun Cream - SPF50+ for sensitive and fair skin

2. The right time for tanning: I choose my tanning hours carefully. I never tan between 11am and 3pm, and if I can, it’s always between 4pm to 6pm or 5pm to 7pm depending on the month. I like the golden tinge of the sun near its set. It feels like sunrays turn to orange and golden powder and slowly fall and stick to things and bodies.

Female skater leaning against the brick side of the river, whilst golden sunset rays cover her body

3. Sunglasses: I need my sunglasses, because I look good in them and—it may sound weird—they make the colours prettier. When the sun is directly shining on my face, due to the overexposure of the light to pupils, things become almost black and white with no dominant colour that I can identify. Sunglasses help me see the world with clarity and give it a dominant colour. I love my Oliver Bonas rose gold sunglasses because the brown/yellow tinge makes the world look unimaginably fresh and very close to how I imagine summertime to be when I miss it in winter.

4. Music to sunbathe to: For me, summer is more imagined than lived. And when it comes, it often fails to live up to my expectations. With music, however, the world is fixed and enhanced. My summertime music should invoke the sunset-soaked image of a sultry New York street with people in tank tops and clammy skins chilling to the boombox playing A Tribe Called Quest’s Can I Kick It or something similar. What I think of the summertime is something essentially urban or suburban, chill, friend-centred, youthful. My Spotify playlist consists of hip hop and R&B soundtracks from the movie The Wackness (the cinematography in this film actually defined my nostalgic imagination of summer), Summertime by Kat Edmonson, and Jimmy Scott’s Nothing Compares 2 U (watch it here)—you get the gist.

topless man and woman romantically sitting on a rooftop, watching the town covered in rays of sunset

5. Minimising distractions: I don’t like reading when sunbathing. I think reading distracts me from appreciating the experience in its fullness. What do I do instead? Nothing. I lie there and stay mindful of colours, the heat wrapping my body, the music adding enhancing layers to the already perfect reality. I may look at my phone and WhatsApp my friends and that’s it. I feel serene, weightless, warm, and without worry.

6. The feeling of awesomeness: Throughout these tanning sessions I become positively enamoured with the world around me and my own body. I fully realise how sexy, beautiful, and carefree I am, and how sublime is the world in the summertime. And with these lingering emotions and mindful thoughts I end my tanning session.

Woman sitting on the beach, her back to the camera, wearing a black thong, and done with her tanning session, feeling relaxed and anxiety-free.