It has taken me no less than 40 years to realise what health experts have known all along: that sunscreens actually work.
Like many a sun-starved English person (not to mention mad dog), until that point, and ignoring the advice of my elders and betters, I was of the traditional 'make the most of any fair weather and fry' mindset. It might have been the words 'German', 'tourist' and 'August' that finally made the penny drop, but drop, if not for the most politically correct reasons, it finally did. And now, when the sun shines, I'm factor 15-plus all the way.
Is it, though, strictly seemly to spend upwards of £100 for a single tube of sunscreen for the face, not much less than that for a body spray, and then more again for the world's most heavenly after-sun preparations, dry skin and hair oil, tan enhancer...? The list goes on.
That, of course, is a matter of opinion – not to mention budget. But while it is doubtless true that any sunscreen – Boots-own brand, Nivea, Ambre Solaire, and so forth – might do its job perfectly well, Sisley remains purveyor of the loveliest sun-protection products in the world.
Like many a lesson learnt in life, my mother taught me this one, having been a Sisley-phile for as long as I can remember. The delicate aroma of essential oils, including, most prominently, geranium and lavender, that is the hallmark of the name in question, have an effect on my senses that might not unreasonably be described as Proustian.
Sisley sun care is moisturising – heavily moisturising, adding suppleness to even the driest of skin types – lightweight and even the total block is quickly absorbed into the skin. My favourites are Sisley Fluid Body suncream, SPF 30 – it's a delicate mist so very easy to apply – Sunleya, SPF 15 for face and décolletage which I use all year round, Crème Reparatrice for face and body after sun exposure, and Sisley Body Sun Oil, SPF 6 which, given its low protection status, is more of a highly indulgent, cosmetic and – be warned – far from accessibly priced afterthought.