Survey results for

May/July: Sun Protection Survey

Many of us will either be preparing for or coming back from holidays abroad and attending summer festivals and barbecues, spending much of our time in the sun when possible over the summer holidays. On occasion the dangers of too much sun exposure can fall to the back of your mind. From burnt skin and sun damaged skin, to skin cancer, the sun can bring with it all sorts of problems if you are not protected.

Following our survey on Sun Awareness in September 2016, we launched our Sun Protection survey a year later to gain further insights into how our members protect themselves in the sunshine. The vast majority of those that participated in the survey were female (85%), between the ages of 41 and 50 (28%), and classed themselves as type 2 on the Fitzpatrick scale (white, fair skin tone, usually burns and tans with difficulty) (43%).

Sun protection

Of all those who completed the survey in full, 88% did use some form of sun protection. Nivea was the most commonly used sun cream (24%) followed by Garnier Ambre Solaire (11%). Sun Protection Factor (SPF) was what influenced the vast majority of people when purchasing sun cream (66%) with price being the next most important factor (15%). The vast majority of participants favoured higher factors of SPF, with SPF 31-50 (37%) and SPF 21-30 (32%) being the most popular choices.

Interestingly, a quarter of participants decreased the level of the SPF they used as they became more tanned, with 67% remaining loyal to the same factor even after developing a tan. Close to half only used SPF when it is sunny (45%) with only 13% using it every day. Most applied their sun cream 2-3 times a day (60%) with just over a quarter only applying once a day (27%).

19 participants in the survey who didn’t use an SPF were asked why they chose not to use it. Most stated it was because they didn’t spend much time in the sun (27%) with 17% stating it’s because they are too expensive.

Other forms of protection

As well as using SPF, many used other methods of protection to stay safe in the sun. Sunglasses (80%), clothing cover-ups (60%) and sunhats (54%) were some of the most popular items chosen to keep the sun off their bodies, with close to three quarters choosing to sit in the shade regularly when the sun is at its hottest.

Sun exposure

The remaining questions were answered by all participants. Over a third stated that they spent 2 weeks to a month in the sun on average each year (33%), with 22% spending 1-2 weeks in the sun, and a further 22% spending up to 3 months in the sun each year. Participants were then asked what outdoor activities they carried out in the sun on a regular basis. Gardening was the most popular (58%) followed by dog walking (29%). Over half answered that they did use SPF when doing activities outdoors (53%) with around a third choosing not to use it while outdoors.

Skin Cancer

Almost all who took part in the survey had not had any form of skin cancer, with only 50 participants stating that they had experienced one of the conditions listed (including Basal cell carcinoma, Actinic Keratoses, Superficial spreading melanoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, Nodular melanoma and Lentigo maligna melanoma). Around 58% of those that had experienced one of those conditions received a diagnosis in less than 6 months, and 82% received that diagnosis from a doctor. Most believed their skin cancer was caused by excessive sun exposure (46%), exposure to sunlight without sun protection (36%), or due to their large number of freckles or moles (26%).

Vitamin D

With Vitamin D being a frequent topic of conversation in the news recently, we wanted to know whether vitamin D levels were a concern to our members, to which opinion was quite evenly divided. 51% stated that they were not a concern, with 49% answering that they were a concern. Most understood the importance of sun exposure in moderation to maintain good levels of vitamin D (76%), with 85% stating that they would consider taking a vitamin D supplement in order to boost their vitamin D levels. A third of participants were currently taking vitamin D supplements at the time they took this survey, with close to 20% being prescribed vitamin D in the past.

Very many of those who responded to the survey said they would like to be contacted regarding the results of this survey. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this survey.

If you're interested in a detailed analysis of the results for these surveys please contact us.