Who buys sunscreen, but forgets to use it? Go ahead, raise your hand. I know. Count me as one of the millions of Americans who buy sunscreen and it languishes in whatever cabinet I threw it in.

The CDC is out with their yearly PSA of we have to protect ourselves against sun exposure. An overwhelming majority of melanomas – the deadliest form of skin cancer – and non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Protecting yourself is easy too. Sunscreen, shade, hats and sunglasses. All are simple fixes to protect yourself from an increased risk of skin cancer.

How big of a problem is our lack of using sunscreen? 40 percent of men and 27 percent of women never use sunscreen on their face or exposed skin when outside for an hour or more.

Yeah, count me in the 40 percent. I was outside pressure washing the house just two weeks ago. You know the project you think ‘ah, this might take an hour?’ Three hours later in direct sun equaled one hell of a burn.

Stupid? Damn right. Hopefully, I learned my lesson.

Sunscreen Study

So, we know the numbers of people who don’t use sunscreen. How about the data on those that do. According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 30 percent of women regularly apply sunscreen, while just 14 percent of men do.

Anecdotally, the discrepancy between the two sexes is being put down to the skin creams she buys. Most have some level of SPF protection in them.

Note to men, start raiding your SO’s supply of skin creams. You get the benefit of any SPF, your mug could stand some moisturizer and you delay the midlife crisis of getting wrinkles.

Outside of the numbers of people not using sunscreen is a concerning data point of people who do slather it on.

40 percent of users were unsure if their sunscreen offered broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Dermatologists recommend it, yet there’s the disconnect on consumer education.

To clear the air and protect your skin, the Environmental Working Group has released its 2015 sunscreen guide.

Spray-on versus lotion

Great, not only do I forget to use sunscreen sometimes, I’m also grabbing the wrong kind. The EWG explains the pitfalls of spray-on sunscreen:

“Aerosolized droplets could push sunscreen chemicals deep into the lungs where they could irritate lung tissue or pass into the bloodstream. As well, the FDA says it lacks data to prove that sprays provide the necessary thick, even skin coverage on dry skin, let alone a wet kid.”

Well, that’s horrifying. Lotion it is.

sunscreen benefits

SPF Levels

SPF 70. 100. It keeps getting higher. According to the FDA, SPF benefits max out at 50. The SPF 100 you bought? It’s not twice as effective as SPF 50. Dermatologists say the difference is negligible. Instead of thinking your lotion is armor against the sun, add a hat or a bit of shade to the equation.

What can you do to have a burn free summer? Try to limit sun exposure. That doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit and work on your audition tape for the next hoarder reality show. A nice shade tree or beach umbrellas work.

Re-apply the correct sunscreen every few hours. It may say it lasts all day, but why risk it?

Broad-spectrum protection. When you are picking up a bottle, remember you want UVA and UVB protection.

Sunscreen doesn’t just help prevent painful sunburns. Using it cuts your risk of skin cancers and keeps the wrinkles and signs of aging away.

It’s a win-win. The 40 percent of men and 27 percent of women who never use sunscreen. It’s time to zero out those two numbers.


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