Seeing The Light
There are plenty of PSAs and UV-blocking
technologies these days, but do consumers
really understand that application of
broad-spectrum protection needs
to be a daily pursuit? Photo: LaRoche-Posay
ABOR DAY WEEKEND, the unofficial end to summer
in the U.S., has passed. Vacations at the beach,
pool or lake are over. Consumers have packed
away the swimsuits and most likely tossed aside
their bottles of sunscreen, too. Even diligent sunscreen wearers are slacking off a bit—as if turning
the page on the calendar decreases the harmful
effects of the sun.
It doesn’t. The sun never takes a break. Come
September, consumers may be exposing less skin overall to
sunlight, but they remain in the dark when it comes to the
importance of daily protection. Faces, arms and hands are
still exposed to the sun’s rays year-round, regardless of the
season. And it is everyday UV exposure that adds up, say
“Everyday sun exposure builds up and can increase your
risk of developing skin cancer, not to mention wrinkles and
other signs of premature aging,” said Catherine Lair, director
of marketing for Eucerin at Beiersdorf, Inc. “Even on a cloudy
day, 80% of the sun’s rays still reach your skin, so sun protection needs to go beyond the beach and be incorporated into
your daily skin care routine. Many people don’t realize that
little things like walking your dog, driving in your car, window shopping and similar activities can cause sun damage.”
Dr. Amy J. Derick, a dermatologist based in Barrington, IL,
echoed that sentiment.
“We are exposed to UV radiation every time we step outside, and it penetrates through window glass. In the U.S.,
most people have increased sun damage on the left side of
the face—the driving side. This is from daily incident UV
light exposure. Even cloudy days and cooler weather can
pose risk of harmful UV exposure.”
Many experts contend consumers are much more knowledgeable about sun exposure facts like these.
“In general, over the last decade, the general public has
gained a better understanding about the potential harm of
UV damage. They are starting to appreciate that message
thanks to various public health campaigns,” said Dr. Steven
Q. Wang, member of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s photobiol-ogy committee and director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Basking Ridge, NJ.
Add to that a steady influx of products boasting UV protec-
tion claims (see chart below), and one would think that
Americans are a pretty sun-savvy bunch.
But why then is skin cancer the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than one million skin cancers diagnosed annually? And why are there more new cases of skin
cancer each year than the combined incidence of cancers of
the breast, prostate, lung and colon?
It’s the difference between knowing and doing.
“In terms of taking that message and practicing it, we still
have more work to do. Knowledge does not always translate
to proper behavior,” noted Dr. Wang, who will speak at the
Florida Chapter of the Society of Cosmetics Chemists
Sunscreen Symposium this month.
Statistics from a study released by Neutrogena in mid-June
confirm that behavior, as 80% of adults agreed that sun exposure can de deadly, but only 27% reported using at least 1oz.
of sunscreen (the dermatologist’s recommendation). Furthermore, a whopping 70% of adults reported getting sunburned
at least once a year.
According to Dr. Wang, the vast majority of consumers
understand that massive UV radiation is bad for their
health, “but they forget or they prefer to tan,” he said,
pointing to the perception that tan skin connotes health
and an active lifestyle—a far cry from the Victorian Era,
when pale skin was in vogue.
“Consumers in the U.S. still love to tan,” added Janice Lee,
Between 2004-2008, there was a
steady rise in the number of new
global beauty and personal care
product launches with a UV
2006 2007 2008
Source: Mintel Global New Products Database