- We're not saying that sunbathing is bad and that you should stay in the dark in Gran Canaria. That's daft, and there's plenty of evidence that moderate exposure to sunshine is good for you. It definitely makes you feel better.
But you should be careful as the sun in Gran Canaria is African and nasty sunburn ruins holidays.
The important steps to a safe suntan
- Bring a high SPF suncream for the first few days and another (SPF 15+) for later on.
- Look for a cream that says full or broad spectrum on the bottle as it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.
- Apply sun cream at least half an hour before going out in the sunshine so that it can soak in and even out.
- Use about a shot glass' worth of cream per person.
- Reapply suncream every couple of hours and every time you come out of the water.
- Always use SPF 30 on the burny bits: Nose, forehead, knees, the skin by your bikini strap.
- Don't sunbathe between 10.00 and 15.00 as it's when harmful UV rays are at their strongest.
Using a tanning bed to 'start your tan off' off or 'top it up' once you get home is a bad idea. Sunbeds don't help your skin get used to the sunshine and they are bad for you.
Lex says: SPF 30 is great because higher SPF creams are thick and hard to apply and only offer a slight increase in protection.
Day One: Danger Day
You arrive, you unpack, grab a towel and head for a lounger. Hours later you've gone crimson, everything hurts and you feel sick. It'll be days before you can go out in the sun again. Whoops.
We see so many people sitting in the shade with red skin after a first-day mistake. It's why we say use a strong cream until you've got used to the sun.
Also, just take it easy for the first day or two; you've got all week to enjoy the sun. Spend an hour in the sun one day one and increase your exposure slowly.
We recommend retiring to the terrace and drinking cocktails under an umbrella. An early holiday hangover is better for you than sunburn (and fades faster too).
The day-on, day-off system
Your skin needs time to recover from sun exposure so plan your holiday activities so that you get a day in between each day by the beach or the pool. And wear and hat and sunglasses when you are out and about.
This system allows you to develop a suntan during your holiday and spend time exploring the wonderful island of Gran Canaria (the place outside the hotel gate). Here's a list of 10 great places to start.
Lex says: A suntan is a consequence of a great holiday and not its main purpose.
Think of the children
Adults who burned badly as kids are far more likely to develop skin cancer so please cover your kids in sunscreen and use a rash vest when they are swimming.
We say that if you see a sunburned kid by a pool or on the beach, then you should be the person to pester their parents. It's that important.
Alex says: Sun cream is cheaper in the UK than in Gran Canarias so bring your own. Pack it in the suitcase or it'll get confiscated.
What if it's too late
Ok, it happens. You fall asleep or ignore the advice and get burned. It's not the end of the world and you can do a few things to make it better.
After-sun creams don't do much, but a simple moisturiser containing Aloe vera definitely soothes red skin. Slap it on and let it soak in until your skin can't take any more.
Or go local and use Aloe vera juice straight from the plant. Here's how to recognise and prepare Aloe vera gel.
Alex says: Aloe vera gel from the centre of a leaf is great on sore skin. Just cut out the fleshy bit and wash it to get rid of any yellow sap from the skin, then crush and apply.
Enjoy the Gran Canaria sunshine and remember that the best tans are the ones you get slowly and without going red.