A reckless approach to sun care is putting huge numbers of Brits at risk of skin damage, premature ageing and melanoma, new research reveals.

Nine out of ten women admit they have underestimated the strength of UK sunshine. Four out of five have suffered a bout of sunburn as a result and more than a third (38%) have sustained multiple episodes of sunburn — which dramatically increases the risk of skin cancer.

However, what really alarms experts is that the new research — conducted for Japanese skincare specialists Hada Labo Tokyo[1]  — shows that two-thirds (65%) suffered sunburn despite having applied sunscreen.

GP and TV medic, Dr Hilary Jones notes:

This is a very important take-home message, we not only underestimate the power of the sun when we’re at home, we also underestimate what is needed to protect against sunburn.

Everyone knows the risks of sun damage. There are almost 17,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer and around 2,300 preventable deaths every year, and those numbers are rising steadily. Millions of pounds are spent on awareness campaigns, yet there continues to be a potentially lethal gap between awareness and actions.

Dr Hilary Jones, GP and TV medic


High-risk habits leading to skin damage

The new Hada Labo Tokyo real-world research highlights the dangerous extent of women’s high-risk habits:

  • Only a third (34%) of those surveyed use a sunscreen every day.
  • Almost half (47%) took fewer precautions against sunburn at home than when they’re away.
  • On high-risk sunny days, 47% use only one application of sunscreen.
  • 36% only use sunscreen when it’s hot.
  • 10% of women never use a sunscreen in the UK.

A number of factors are driving this:

  • On average, we miss 10% of our face when applying sunscreen.
  • Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Protection should be reapplied every 2 hours.

Experts believe another hugely important factor is how pleasant a product is to use. Skin expert and make-up artist from Hada Labo Tokyo, Gina Akers explains:

Gloopy textures, chemical smells, ingredients which irritate sensitive skins and products that leave the skin feeling greasy can all factor into our reluctance to use sunscreens effectively.

Gina Akers, skin expert and make-up artist, Hada Labo Tokyo

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Workplace Wellbeing Professional is an online magazine featuring news and analysis on a broad range of employee wellbeing topics, focused on a UK based audience.