RealSelf Releases 2019 Sun Safety Report image

According to the 2019 RealSelf Sun Safety Report, only 1 in 10 adults in the US uses sunscreen every day, and almost half (47 percent) of Americans never wear sunscreen, and women are significantly more likely than men to wear sunscreen on a daily basis (15 percent vs. 4 percent).

The report also found that factors like age and location influence sunscreen use. Two-thirds (66 percent) of 18- to 34-year-olds wear sunscreen at least one day a week, compared to 49 percent of adults 35 and older. Adults who live in the midwestern US are significantly less likely than those who live in other regions of the country to wear sunscreen—only 16 percent of adults living in the Midwest wear sunscreen four or more days a week, compared to 29 percent of adults in the West, 25 percent of adults in the South, and 24 percent of adults in the Northeast.

A little more than half (53 percent) of Americans wear sunscreen at least one day a week, and among those, 93 percent apply it to the face. The second most popular body area is the neck (74 percent), followed closely by the arms (73 percent). Nearly one-third (28 percent) of US adults who wear sunscreen say they always or almost always reapply throughout the day. Men are significantly more likely than women to always or almost always reapply (34 percent vs. 25 percent of women), and adults ages 18–44 are two times more likely than adults 45 and older to reapply on most days they wear sunscreen (40 percent vs. 19 percent).

Answer   Total %    Women %    Men %
7 days/week    10%    15%    4%
4–6 days/week    14%    16%    12%
1–3 days/week    29%    28%    30%
Never    47%    41%    54%
Source: RealSelf.com, 2019 RealSelf Sun Safety Report

Although daily sunscreen was found to be low, 65 percent of Americans say they always or almost always wear sunscreen if they plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time, such as while at the beach or during a sporting event. Only 57 percent of adults in the Midwest always or almost always wear sunscreen when outside for extended periods, which is significantly lower than all other regions of the country: West (68 percent), South (67 percent), and Northeast (66 percent).

Among the 47 percent of Americans who never wear sunscreen, more than half (56 percent) believe they don’t get enough sun exposure to need sunscreen. Other top reasons for not wearing sunscreen include having skin that doesn’t burn easily (25 percent) and not liking how sunscreen feels on the skin (18 percent).

Top Reasons for Not Wearing Sunscreen    Total
   %
   Women
   %
   Men
   %
I don’t think I’m exposed to the sun enough    56%    56%    56%
My skin doesn’t burn easily    25%    22%    27%
I don’t like how it feels on my skin    18%    18%    18%
I’m too busy    5%    3%    6%
I want to but forget    13%    16%     10%
It’s too expensive       7%    7%    6%
I can’t find a product that I like       4%    4%    4%
It interferes with my skincare or makeup routine       2%    4%    1%
Other     10%    11%    9%
Source: RealSelf.com, 2019 RealSelf Sun Safety Report

 

Motivations for Sunscreen Use: Prevent Skin Cancer, Sunburn, and Signsof Aging

Among those who do use sunscreen, the main motivations are to prevent skin cancer, prevent sunburn, and prevent the appearance of aging skin. Adults ages 35 and older are significantly more likely than adults under the age of 34 to say preventing skin cancer is a main motivation for wearing sunscreen (79 percent vs. 63 percent).

Women are significantly more likely than men to say preventing the look of aging skin is a main motivation (55 percent vs. 33 percent), and they are also more likely to be motivated by sunspot prevention (44 percent vs. 33 percent for men). More than half of men (52 percent) say preventing the look or feel of a sunburn is a main motivation, compared to only 45 percent of women.

Top Motivations for Wearing Sunscreen    Total %    Women %    Men %
To help prevent skin cancer    74%    72%    77%
Prevent the look or feel of sunburn    48%    45%    52%
To help prevent the appearance of aging skin    46%    55%    33%
To help prevent sunspots on skin    39%    44%    33%
Other    1%    1%    1%
Source: RealSelf.com, 2019 RealSelf Sun Safety Report

 

Men More Likely to Have Annual Skin Check

While women are more likely to wear sunscreen daily, men are significantly more likely to have had a skin check in the past (70 percent vs. 65 percent of women) and significantly more likely to get their skin checked every year (36 percent vs. 27 percent of women). Adults who know someone with skin cancer or have been personally diagnosed with skin cancer are almost twice as likely to have annual skin checks compared to those who do not know someone with skin cancer (53 percent vs. 29 percent).