Factors Affecting Sunscreen Habits

Factors Affecting Sunscreen Habits

In an effort to better understand where sunscreen education and awareness programs are most needed, the Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE), a nonprofit aimed at reducing the incidence of melanoma, conducted an independent national survey of 1,016 adults. The poll inquired about the frequency of sunscreen application by season, sunscreen preference and opinions about free public sunscreen.

The survey revealed the following areas of concern:

  • 86% of participants use sunscreen “always” or “sometimes” during summer months, but September is when most put the sunscreen bottles away, with 41% of participants reporting application rates of “never” in fall.
  • There is less sunscreen use in southern states despite warmer climates. Though the region may experience as many as 246 days of sun each year, only 35% of respondents said they use sunscreen “always” in the summer months, dropping to just 14% during winter.
  • A lack of sunscreen use among African-Americans, even in summer months. Of the African-American respondents, 32% reported “never” using sunscreen in summer and 67% reported “never” in the winter. African-Americans accounted for 36% of those who said they don’t need sunscreen. (A recent Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology study, published July 2016, found African-American patients were most likely to be diagnosed with melanoma in its later stages than any other group studied.)

Other notable findings include:

  • Men using sunscreen “always” in the winter showed a slight increase over fall, from 12% to 20%, whereas women remained the same at 13%.
  • Women were twice as likely as men to report that they “always” use sunscreen year-round (8% of women vs. 4% of men).
  • 51% of survey participants said they would use free public sunscreen if it were available to them.
  • Participants overall preferred a sport or water-resistant sunscreen (36%, on average) or a major brand (22%). Those in the Northeast and West were somewhat more likely to prefer an all-natural or organic sunscreen than those in the Midwest and South.

“This survey revealed a lot about Americans as it relates to the high rate of melanoma in this country. For MFNE, it is a call to action, showing where our education and awareness programs can be most effective and demonstrating desire for free public sunscreen throughout the country,” said the MFNE’s executive director, Deb Girard.

Photo copyright Getty Images.

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