Slip, slop, and too sticky
The higher SPF the better, especially for those of us who spend most of our time slaving away indoors. Photo: Andrew Quilty
I hate sunscreen. Always have done. I know I should slip, slap and of course slop, and I know it's dangerous and silly not too. I know it's Setting a Bad Example to the Children. And I know it's almost un-Australian into the bargain. But I can't help it. Whenever summer rolls around, I'm at the back of the queue when the vile stuff gets doled out.
I hate the slippy-sloppy feel of it, hate the way it sticks me to my clothes. I'm a man who's learned to like lotions - on my cheeks or chin, or heels, or various sore points - but sunscreen has always been one step beyond.
And I've suffered for it in the past. God, how I've suffered. I have photos - but I'm not sharing - of me face down one night on a Mediterranean bed with pinker-than-pink legs and back, punctuated by whiter-than-white buttocks.
Ever since I was a kid I've burnt and peeled and yelped and refused like a big idiot, and since adulthood I've become even less inclined to apply, all because of body hair, which makes things even stickier.
It's even got to the point where I've stopped going to the beach. I know it's dumb - this is Australia - but it all got a bit much. Sand sticking to me everywhere, all the clutter you have to lug there. No thanks.
''A well groomed man today likes to have a slight tan,'' one expert writes. Not me. Pale and interesting will do. And I'll just stay indoors all summer long. But the other week I had a revelation.
The family were invited to the Gold Coast. While Mrs Man Scaping investigated the spa, the kids and I hung out by the pools. It was very, very nice and I even enjoyed the beach. The ocean was warm, the sand soft and the sun - even straight after breakfast - was hot, so sunscreen was applied.
So this year I've decided to enjoy the summer, enjoy the outdoors, find a sunscreen that I like and use it. I have little choice - you can find the statistics on skin cancer mortality just as easily as I can - and the higher SPF the better, especially for those of us who spend most of our time slaving away indoors.
Thankfully most people have already got the message. The builders over the road from me are slathered in it. Surf lifesavers and cricketers have shown the way with zinc cream.
The sun screens lying around our house all seem a little unmanly in their packaging, if you ask me, and I want one that isn't ladylike. I asked around to see if anyone could make any suggestions, and it seems that sunscreen makers have tumbled to everyone's dislikes. They all seem to be trumpeting the fact that their sunscreens dry at speed and don't feel greasy.
Spray on sunscreens might just be the go, especially for the hairier man. Guinot's skin care expert Laura Pritchard recommends the company’s Spray Bronze SPF 15.
“With men’s skin tending to be more oily, this sun screen is fantastic because it is oil-free, leaving no greasy heavy feeling on the skin, but providing good sun protection. Plus the fact that it is in a spray, makes it quick and easy for application which men also prefer,” she says. And Laura had some other advice. “People need to be aware that sunscreen should be applied every hour to maintain the level of the SPF, for true protection.”
And there's another warning from Ken Lee of Nivea, who says most sun damage occurs during incidental sun exposure. ''UV rays reflect off almost every surface and can reach you through glass, such as your car or office window,'' he says. ''Even if you're in the shade, you will still be absorbing UV rays.'' So even the deskbound need some everyday sun protection.
Meanwhile, back at the beach, Nivea's Sun Kids Swim and Play SPF30+ is designed for children but works well on adults who've not got out much recently. It's also water resistant for four hours.
Nivea also do a spray - Ultra Beach Protect SPF 30+, which dries pretty quickly, even on the hairiest of backs.
Banana Boat Sport Dry Touch SPF 30+ is water resistant and dries fast and their Every Day SPF 30+ is a good choice for daily use. Lastly - and just because the PR person sent a coconut shell and string bikini top along with it (I have photos of me in that, too) - I should mention Le Tan's Coconut Oil SPF 30+ which smells lovely and their Sports Gel SPF 30+, which has a scent that reminded me of fly spray but is waterproof, fast-drying and non-greasy.
Those are just a few that have passed by my desk lately and don't look or smell too girly. There are of course scores of others.
What about you? Summer's just around the corner. Are you going to skulk indoors, or slap on the (non greasy, quick drying, spray-on) sunscreen (plus hat and T-shirt) and get out there? I know I am.