Despite advancements in sunscreens and self-tanners, millennial women remain unconcerned with protecting their skin from the sun. A recent RealSelf survey revealed more than 70 percent of women ages 18 to 34 still aren’t wearing sunscreen regularly.
Of those surveyed, 78 percent of women ages 18 to 24 said they “never” wear sunscreen or only wear it “while at the beach.” Women in the 25 to 34 range fared only slightly better: just 27 percent said they use SPF five or more days per week.
These stats must disappoint dermatologists, who cite daily sunscreen use as the #1 way to keep skin healthy. This lack of SPF has contributed to a rise in skin cancer cases, 90 percent of which are caused by exposure to the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5.5 million cases are diagnosed each year, with one in five Americans expected to develop skin cancer at least once in their lives.
Related: Sun Damage Overview
For the image conscious, cancer isn’t the only worry: an estimated 90 percent of skin aging can be attributed to sun exposure. This damage accumulates over time, so people often don’t see the effects until it’s too late. This may be especially true for the 70 percent of women ages 25 to 34 who report not using any skincare products designed to fight signs of aging.
Especially during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, doctors on RealSelf urge everyone to brush up on their knowledge of SPF and how to use it. Dermatologic surgeon Dr. Susan Van Dyke offers these five tips for keeping your skin safe:
- Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30-50: “There’s no need to go above 50. A 50 SPF blocks 98 percent of the UVB light, while SPF 100 will block 99 percent. The level of benefit to either is contingent on applying enough and reapplying frequently.”
- Put it on before going in the sun: “Apply one-half hour before going outside to give the skin time to absorb it.”
- Use at least an ounce to cover exposed skin: “Research shows that many people put on about half the amount of sunscreen they need, so be sure to lather it on. And don’t forget to use lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.”
- Reapply every two hours: “The active ingredients in sunscreen break down when exposed to UV light. You need to keep reapplying as the ingredients lose effectiveness: every two hours; more often if you sweat or swim.”
- Don’t rely on sunscreen alone: “If you really want to save your skin, the best approach is to use sunscreen, cover up with hats and sunglasses, and seek shade.”
Ready to contact a doctor? Find one near you.