Friday 12th August 2016

Our new research has found that young people's carelessness when applying sunscreen means they're still burning regularly in the sun.

We've found that 16 in every 100 young people has been burnt more than 10 times in their life. Worryingly, getting painful sunburn, just once every 2 years, can triple the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The research asked burning questions about which bits of the body young people forget to protect when they're in the sun and the results make painful reading. In the survey of 1,000 13-24 year olds, it was found that: 

  1. 1/3 burn their neck, because 'I forget to put sunscreen on it' (32.2%)
  2. Nearly 1/3 burn their back, because 'I can't reach to put sunscreen on it' (30.4%)
  3. 1/4 burn their arms, because 'they're in the sun more so I don’t think I need sunscreen' (23.4%)
  4. 1/5 burn their feet and ears, because 'I forget to put sunscreen on them' (20.1%) (17.8% - ears)

It seems that painful sunburn and peeling skin are the unpleasant side-effects of an overwhelming desire for a bronzed complexion. Nearly 3/4 (71%) said that 'Tanned and sunkissed' was a better look than 'pale and interesting' and almost 1/5 (18%) admitted to deliberately burning to 'kick start a tan'.

Singer and TV star Jake Quickenden is the face of Shunburn, our sun safety campaign. He knows a thing or two about looking good, but he also knows from personal experience how risky the pursuit of a tan can be.

His mum was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2001 after years of sunbathing. She has made a full recovery, but the experience has changed Jake's attitude towards the sun.

Jake said:

I love having a tan, but the lobster look isn't the best! When you understand the risks of getting badly burnt, it just doesn't seem worth it. I would urge young people to take my advice and get that sunscreen on. And if you really must have a tan, go for the healthy option and fake it, like me!

Jake's recommendation is very timely as skin cancer is on the rise in the UK, with more than two 15-34 year olds being diagnosed every day, making it the second most common cancer in this age group.

Susie Rice, Head of Education and Awareness Programme for Teenage Cancer Trust, said: "Skin cancer is on the rise across the UK, so it's important that young people know how to protect themselves and enjoy the sun safely. It's so worrying to see that young people are getting burnt frequently, as we know that repeated burning can cause problems over time. We want young people to really think about those bits they normally miss when putting on their sunscreen this summer."

We're encouraging young people to follow these 5 key sun safety steps:

  1. Stay out of the sun when it's at its strongest between 11am and 3pm
  2. Cover your skin so it's not exposed to the sun
  3. Wear a hat to keep the sun off your head and face
  4. Apply generous amounts of sunscreen at least SPF 30 to clean, dry skin before going in the sun and remember to reapply if you go in water  
  5. Wear sunglasses to protected your eyes