Nearly two-thirds of Americans use anti-aging products as part of their daily skincare routine, yet only 11% wear sunscreen every day and, incredibly, almost half (46%) never wear sunscreen, according to the recently released 2020 RealSelf Sun Safety Report.
We tend to think that fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation are an inevitable part of aging. In reality, they’re mostly caused by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) light, a process that’s called photoaging. Basically, much of how we define aging when it comes to the appearance and health of our skin is the result of our lifestyle. How much? Research pegs it about 90%.
The flipside of that is that it’s completely preventable. All you need to do is limit your exposure to the sun during peak hours (10 AM to 4 PM) and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, whether you’re spending significant times outside or not.
More encouragingly, while daily sunscreen use remains low, the RealSelf report also revealed that 64% of U.S. report that they always or almost always wear sunscreen if they plan to be outside for an extended period. Women are more likely than men to wear sunscreen on a daily basis (16% vs. 6%) and when they’re outside for an extended period (67% vs. 62%).
Men, however, are much more likely to reapply their sunscreen (53% vs. 35%). They’re also more likely to get regular skin checks than women (46% vs. 37%).
Every year, more than 96,400 people will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and about 7,200 will die from it, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Another three million-plus are diagnosed with one of the other two types of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
In almost every instance, skin cancer is treatable—as long as it’s detected early. That means thoroughly checking yourself at least once every couple of weeks and having a board-certified dermatologist do it annually.
The top motivations for using sunscreen, according to the RealSelf report, are preventing skin cancer (71%) and preventing signs of aging (46%). Among the 46% who said they never wear sunscreen, more than half (55%) believe they are not exposed to the sun enough to need it. Among the other excuses cited: 22% said they don’t get sunburns easily, 15% don’t like how it feels on their skin, and 14% intend to wear it but forget to apply it.
More Americans are using makeup products with built-in SPF compared to a year ago (29% vs. 25%). Moisturizers with SPF are also gaining in popularity (56% vs. 51% in 2019).
The survey was conducted in March among 1,997 U.S. women and men ages 18 and older.