My husband wants it on record: this is a disaster waiting to happen.
‘If our holiday is ruined and you end up in hospital, don’t say I didn’t tell you so,’ he says.
The reason for all this doom-mongering is a tiny bottle filled with orange liquid.
It doesn’t look much as I hold it up for inspection, but I’m told this is the elixir set to revolutionise suncare.
I’ve been granted an exclusive preview of SunSeal, a ‘gamechanging’ SPF made using a formula you can’t swim, shower or sweat off….for days at a time.
There are all sorts of regulations about what suncreams are allowed to claim, particularly one that’s about to make its global debut in Australia where no SPF can promise more than four-hour sun protection.
However what its makers CAN say is that SunSeal is an SPF made with a ‘second skin’ film that’s proven to last for three whole days on the skin from just one application.
I’m fervently hoping it’s true because tomorrow I’m off to Majorca to turn myself into a human guinea pig.
It’s worth mentioning I’ve got pale, sizzle-prone skin that’s incapable of going brown without a bottle of St Tropez, so sun safety is something I’m pretty hot on.
The suitcases are packed, my husband and kids are ready for the airport and it’s time to get myself SunSealed.
The alcohol-based liquid gives off fumes that make my eyes water when I rub it on my face, but thankfully it only lasts a few seconds.
The sunscreen goes on clear, which makes me nervous about inadvertently missing bits but it leaves a sheen and slightly tacky feel which makes me feel more confident my sample has covered everything.
A few hours later, as my plane hits the sky I’m secretly tickled by the thought of jetting off with my sun protection already in place.
Holiday day 1
It’s 8am in Majorca, the sun’s blazing and loungers are already festooned with towels.
It feels strange not slathering on suncream before heading to the pool.
However it’s very much SPF business as usual with my children, who scream and run as I aim a regular suncream in their direction.
If I only had to endure this every three days instead of every three hours, I’d be delighted.
I spend all day by the pool, mostly under an umbrella because a big part of my brain is shrieking ‘you didn’t put suncream on, idiot’.
I’m wearing a UV monitor which shows, despite my wary shade bathing, I’ve had three times my ‘safe’ exposure.
I’ve not gone pink though.
Holiday day 2
Zero chance of hiding in the shade this morning as the kids are fighting over their new lilos and I’m in the pool refereeing.
At lunch, I’m dismayed to see I have strap marks, which must surely mean my skin isn’t protected.
However closer inspection reveals this isn’t me burning, simply my pre-holiday fake tan rubbing off.
I spend the afternoon sweltering on the beach, weirded out by the fact I’ve not applied suncream on my body for two days.
The UV monitor shows I’ve bust my safe sun allowance by 542%, yet there’s no hint of burning.
Holiday day 3
It’s even warmer today, and I’m fearing for my exposed shoulders as I get talked into the midday aqua aerobics.
Still not a hint of redness by lunch, but I’m not a pretty sight.
My fake tan’s mottled from the pool water, but I daren’t scrub and reapply in case it weakens my sun protection.
Also, my legs are stubbly but I’m not sure I can shave without scraping off my SPF.
(Shaving is fine, I learn later, but you have to be very cautious about applying products over SunSeal as anything containing oil can damage the ‘second skin’ film.)
Later I spend hours in the sea, trying to stop the kids drifting off to Africa in their wretched lilos.
By dinner my nerves are frazzled but my skin certainly isn’t, despite clocking up over 450% of my max sun exposure.
I’m not claiming this Majorcan experiment is a substitute for lab science – or waiting for the official product claims when it launches here next year – but my own experience of SunSeal has been astounding.
It felt less like SPF than a superpower, shielding me from the sun… AND silencing my husband.
I didn’t turn even slightly pink in 72 hours despite the 33-degree heat, and I’d definitely use it again.
It won’t be cheap at around £25 for a 250ml bottle, but considering that would easily last me a week, it might actually save me money as well as a ton of hassle.
The burning suncare questions
What IS this stuff exactly?
SunSeal is the SPF sister to Microskin, a ‘second skin’ camouflage that covers birthmarks for days.
SunSeal uses the same long-lasting base but instead of pigments it contains organic UVA/B filters, explains its inventor Les Pascoe.
‘It dries to a “breathable” waterproof film that adheres strongly to the skin while allowing air through and letting skin sweat normally.’
‘The UV blockers aren’t absorbed into the skin, and it can be used by adults and children.’
How has it been tested?
‘The original Microskin film has undergone extensive lab testing, proving its life even beyond 72 hours,’ says Pascoe.
‘We developed SunSeal in Australia, using a renowned testing company, and the long life of the film exceeded their expectations.’
What happens at 72 hours?
The SunSeal film is unlikely to vanish Cinderella-style, but ‘responsibility’ is the watchword here.
‘The film sheds with the top layers of dead skin and can be affected by high skin oil levels,’ explains David Robinson, SunSeals UK MD.
‘While we know it can remain on the skin for extended periods, there’s always the risk of it starting to wear off faster depending on your skin.’
‘We recommend re-applying more often on areas containing more natural oils, such as the face.’
(I topped up once on my face as I’d used an oil cleanser to shift my mascara.)
Isn’t it likely to encourage irresponsible sunbathing?
‘We’d never say you can wear this and sunbathe as long as you like without harming your skin – even the highest SPF can’t give complete UV protection,’ says Robinson.
For this reason, he recommends using topical sunscreen alongside protective clothing and keeping sun exposure within sensible limits.
‘SunSeal will only come as SPF30 and SPF50+, and because the film can remain on the skin over 72 hours, the UVA/B blockers will prevent a deep tan, so it’s not likely to appeal to that consumer,’ he adds.
‘Fortunately, most people are more interested in looking after their skin so I think it’ll have a very positive reception in terms of sun protection.’
*For information on the Microskin film technology, visit microskin.com which will also have information on SunSeal closer to its global launch in Australia later this year.
Lynne measured her UV exposure with La Roche Posay My Skin Track UV, £54.95, apple.com
– Remember, no sunscreen can fully protect your skin from the sun. SPF should always be used responsibly alongside protective clothing and limiting your sun exposure