Aside from safe sex and safe savings, there is one thing every woman should practice, regardless of her age – safe sun. I believe, genetic and dietary factors aside, that it is one of the reasons why Japanese women generally have such beautiful skin and rarely look their age.
This year has been dubbed the anti-wrinkle year. It is the year I have become really aware of them, and the year I have become obsessed with preventing and/or getting rid of them, and by default, it is the year I have become a sun protection maniac. After all, one can never be too careful, and having run wild under the African sun in my youth is probably not helping.
Summer in Japan is brutal. The relentless heat and humidity are a force to be reckoned with. Over 2,000 people have ended up in hospital due to heat stroke so far. That is how hot it is. A blistering, sweltering furnace of hell. Constant sweating makes you feel uncomfortable, as sticky as toffee, not to mention being bad news for your makeup, which melts right off.
Sweating, of course, does not help makeup (ever). I always wonder how the Japanese girls manage to keep looking so glamorous and well made-up even in the unforgiving heat and humidity. I swear they must have a lower body temperature and thus sweat less, or else they reapply makeup like mad things throughout the day. It’s one of those great unsolved mysteries of the universe.
You may well be starting to understand my need for both a parasol and a sunhat, which I also use in conjunction with the highest SPF sunscreen I can get my paws on.
I love my cute parasol, and I love the fact that most women here use them, making it the done thing. I never feel like I can use it in the UK as I often (probably mistakenly) feel like people are staring at me and thinking, “Who is that weirdo?”
I also secretly love the fact that it allows me to channel my inner Victorian lady on a daily basis. Although I adore corsets just as much, it is rather difficult to integrate them into everyday life. A parasol on the other hand, not so much.
This is my third year of being a parasol aficionado, but it is the first where I have bought what I have labelled “my Japanese granny hat.” It’s not fancy, and would be sent away in shame from Ascot, but it’s adorable, and more importantly, has a wide brim to hide from the sun’s rays. I have a great fondness for it and do not really care what anyone might think.
After having seen it paired with sunglasses, a co-worker said, “I like it. It has an air of Breakfast at Tiffany’s about it.”
I like to think I’m tapping into my inner Audrey Hepburn glamour, but the truth is probably something closer to being the poor cousin.
Don’t worry, I will never go as far as wearing a visor – also a popular accessory of Japanese ladies during this season.
First it was a parasol, and then it was a hat. Who knows what it will be next year? Long cotton gloves perhaps. We shall have to wait and see.
My trusty parasol
My Japanese granny hat