After the hottest weekend of the year so far, Nigel Griffiths, the consumer affairs minister, stressed that suntan lotions must not be seen as fashion products and should be available at the lowest possible prices.
Mr Griffiths said he had written to manufacturers and retailers urging them to bring down the price. He wants them to follow the example of the Co-op supermarket chain, which announced two weeks ago that it was cutting the price of Britain's top-brand sun protection creams and lotions - including Ambre Solaire, Nivea and Piz Buin.
A Co-op spokesman said sun lotions and creams would be reduced to cost price until the end of the summer - for example, a bottle of 200ml Piz Buin Sun Lotion 25 usually selling at pounds 12.29, will be pounds 6.39.
The Labour MP Fraser Kemp - whose wife Pat suffered skin cancer after playing as a child without any sun protection - welcomed the move. "There desperately needs to be a cut in prices because sun creams at the moment are just too expensive for some families," he said.
A spokesman for Cancer Research said there was a long way to go in persuading people to alter their sunbathing habits. He added: "Anything which encourages people to protect themselves for the lowest possible price is to be applauded."
Weather forecasters yesterday predicted that the hot spell would continue for a few days. Temperatures in many parts of Britain eclipsed those in Nice and the Canaries. The hottest points recorded on Saturday were in Norfolk and south London at 25C (77F).