Thursday 28th May 2015


To mark the launch of our sun safety campaign, Shunburn, we carried out a poll of young people between 13-24* and found that over a third (38%) don’t use sun protection in the UK because they don’t believe the sun here is strong enough to damage their skin.

We also found that close to a fifth (18%) of young people admit to deliberately burning in order to ‘kick start a tan’.

The lack of sun safety awareness in this age group is a worry because recent figures that show that, over the last 30 years, incidences of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, have risen faster than any of the current 10 most prevalent cancers. Around 37 people are diagnosed every day in the UK, a total of 13,300 a year. In the 15 to 24 age group it is the third most common cancer in females and the sixth most common in males across the UK.

  • We asked young people about their sunbathing habits abroad and found that 50% of people spend more than 2 hours a day sunbathing in direct sunlight when on holiday
  • 20% of 13-24 year olds admitted to not using sun cream on holiday because it would stop them getting a deep sun tan
  • Worryingly, 45% of those polled admitted to not using sun cream on holiday because they simply ‘forgot’ to apply it
  • Over 1 in 10 (14%) of people aged between 13-24 said that they found applying sun cream in public ‘embarrassing’
  • When it came to perceptions of natural beauty, 71% of those asked said that being bronzed was the most attractive look, compared to under a third (29%) rating being ‘pale and interesting’ as being the most attractive look.
  • A fifth of those polled (20%) didn't know that it is illegal to use sunbeds if you are under 18 years old.

Siobhan Dunn, Chief Executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said:

With the Great British Summer upon us, we are calling on all young people to make sure that they cover up from the harmful rays of the sun. The sun in this country can cause damage to skin just like the sun abroad. It is the sun damage done to your skin when young that could lead to skin cancer in later life. It is of course important to enjoy those lazy summer days but it is vitally important to avoid getting your skin burnt by the sun.  It takes just a few minutes to apply suncream or cover up. Those few moments could save someone from the devastating and life changing experience of a skin cancer diagnosis.

A free sun safety teaching pack which fits in with the National Curriculum can be downloaded at

Find out more information and read up on our 5 sun-safety tips!

*Teenage Cancer Trust survey conducted in May 2015 of 283 people aged 13-24 years old