WHO IS THE FAIREST OF THE BEACH? WHEN NAKED, WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT IN THE EYES OF THE SUN

7.2

With the harsh UK weather - extreme cold or wet alternating with extreme heat, Brits have to know how to cope with it all. I mean, have you ever seen a Brit carrying an umbrella or wearing a coat even?When it comes to summer, though, Italians know how to be cool.

A survey commissioned by Lastminute.com revealed that Britons are the biggest beach bores of Europe. When they are on holiday by the sea, they spend ‘only’ a quarter of their time by the beach or by the pool (while the European average is 34%) Italians (14%) and Spaniards (16%) like to engage in shenanigans. Brits, on the other hand, are very reserved and even a little prudish, considering that more than a third admits to being embarrassed if their partners go topless.

Italians are apparently unbeatable (19%) when it comes to running to the beach in the morning to get the best sun lounger, beating the Spanish (13%) and Germans (12%).

Not to mention socialising (or even flirting) with their beach buddies. Here Italians win hands down (42%) followed by Germans (35%), while shy Brits tend to hold back here and stay in the shade. Italians are shameless too, in taking sneaky photos of the best-looking beach babes. The Spanish are just as bad with both nationalities standing at 6% for this activity. Italians stand at 32% for taking selfies at the beach, but the Spanish take the lead on this one with 38%.

Everybody knows that Italians are obsessed with their appearance and spend a long time in front of the mirror before leaving the house in the morning.

In fact, statistics show that before the summer, 21% take to the gym, 13% go on a diet and 10% spray on the fake tan so they won’t be the palest of them all at the beach! Rather charmingly, Brits, on the other hand, are the least vain: their vanity index is on a par with the Germans at the lowest in Europe. Where Brits stand out is in their ignorance in deciphering the (to be honest) confusing sunscreen labels. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has discovered that only one out of ten Brits know that the SPF written on sun creams refers only to UVB rays and not UVA. Protection against UVA rays is rated by stars and not numbers (1 to 5, where five is the highest protection), but not many people (and that’s not only in Britain) know this.

And, the biggest surprise is to come as there is another field where Britain beats Italy and I bet nobody can guess what it is. Well it’s this - when it comes to pure, safe, clean beaches, it seems the whole of Europe has something to learn from the Brits. Out of 632 bathing areas tested in 2014 for the EU’s annual bathing waters quality report, 631 were reported satisfactory (the odd one has now been closed), while out of the 5,507 Italian bathing areas only 5,200 reached what is considered to be a satisfactory standard and 247 failed.

Considering that Britain was once described as ‘the dirty man of Europe’ because of the sewage pumped into coastal waters, it’s quite an achievement.

ALL ABOUT THE SPF

The SFP rating system was invented by the Austrian scientists Franz Greiter in 1962, but there are at least three more scientists who claim to have got there first: the Australian Milton Blake, who created a sunburn cream in his kitchen in 1930; Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal; and Benjamin Green, a Florida Physician who invented the first cream to protect the US army from sunburn in South Pacific.

There are two types of sun rays. UVA, which do not cause sunburn but penetrate in the skin causing skin cancer and wrinkles. The UVA factor is measured in stars (1 to 5).

The UVB rays can cause sunburn and damage the skin. The SPF (15, 30, 50) measures this kind of ray.

The SPF systems measures the length of time a sunscreen will protect you until from burning. For example, if your skin become reddish/burnt after 15 minutes and you apply a 15 SPF cream, this will prevent the burning 15 times longer (5 hours).

SPF-15-30-50 Guide

15- 1/15 of the UVB rays get through to your skin - blocking about 93%.

30- 1/30 of the UVB rays get through to your skin - blocking about 97%.

50- 1/50 of the UVB rays get through to your skin - blocking about 98%.

Lastminute.com commissioned a survey to One Poll who polled 6,000 adults at the end of May. Among them 2,000 were British, 1,000 Italians, 1,000 Spanish, 1,000 French and 1,000 Germans.