Parents need to question where that tan comes from

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Why would anyone want to look like a big old tangerine?

I’ve never understood the concept of full-on tanning. You run the risk of turning a funny shade of orange and in time your skin will take on a leathery texture.

If you’re lucky enough to work outdoors, or spend three months of the year in the south of France, your only option is to swan around in a Joan Collins-esque hat and kaftan. Not always possible if you’re a Pompey scaffolder.

But with our peculiar weather, the truly tanned have nearly always had a little help from a sunbed. And that means they are paying for the privilege of looking like that.

Of course not everyone who uses a sunbed over-indulges. There are those who can demonstrate restraint and aim for a glow, rather than a slap-round-the-face Tango effect.

But teenagers aren’t renowned for their powers of reason, or common sense, and that’s why a ban on under-18s using sunbeds is a step in the right direction.

Overuse of these machines can be deadly. Intense bursts of UV radiation can damage your skin. Yet almost 50 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 17 in Liverpool and Sunderland now use sunbeds. I know it can be cold up north, but the sun does actually shine in those cities. Vitamin D is naturally available.

Admittedly there’s a big fat loophole in the newly-established law and that needs looking at. Salons won’t have to ask for ID and the unmanned, coin-operated parlours will remain blissfully accessible.

The already over-stretched local authorities will be expected to take on the role of sunbed superintendents. But there’s an easier way. Parents, it’s your duty to keep a closer eye on what your little loves are getting up to.

If your child comes home with a tan that would make Amy Childs from The Only Way Is Essex green with envy – and you know their school isn’t in Bermuda – it’s a fair bet they’ve been slapping on the fake tan, or going on a sunbed.

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of a bus shelter smoker, or to catch your child in the act as they binge-drink their way through a Saturday night. But there’s no excuse for missing the telltale signs of a perma-tan.