Here’s why our sunscreen habits are concerning

57% of men and 41% of women rarely or never protect their skin

With summer just around the corner, many people are gearing up for lazy days by the pool, lakeside retreats and outdoor barbecues. With all this time spent outdoors, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is essential.

A recent survey revealed a surprising trend: Nearly 1 in 3 Americans (28%) admit to rarely or never wearing sunscreen, with more men (57%) than women (41%) neglecting their skin’s protection.

Sunscreen is crucial in preventing skin damage and cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Despite this, the survey from NCSolutions found the primary reasons for sun protection slip-ups include forgetfulness, laziness, the belief that one’s skin is immune to sunburn and the perception that sunscreen is too expensive.

While dermatologists recommend year-round sunscreen use, more than half of Americans (52%) reach for the SPF only when summer rolls around, and 59% skip it on cloudy days, according to the survey.

But sunscreen shouldn’t be reserved just for beach days or boat outings. Anyone over 6 months of age should wear sun protection every day, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“We get a lot of sun exposure just going about our daily lives,” dermatologist Dr. Melissa Piliang told the Cleveland Clinic. “Often, when we’re out and about, we may lose track of time, run into a friend at the grocery store or end up having to be outside longer than we expected, which could result in more sun exposure than we expected.”

Long-term effects from sun exposure are a concern, with 58% of Americans worried about developing skin cancer. Women (52%) express more concern than men (46%) about this potential health risk, the survey reported. Despite these concerns, 81% of Americans do not get annual skin checks.

When shopping for sunscreen, survey participants said they prefer Aveeno, Banana Boat, Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and Neutrogena. However, according to the survey, nearly 1 in 3 (31%) opt for the least expensive option or what’s on sale.

Price isn’t the number that matters, however. SPF is. For day-to-day use, be sure to pick a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, according to Hopkins Medicine. If you spend time outdoors, choose a product with SPF 60 or greater.

By making sunscreen a nonnegotiable part of their routine, Americans can reduce their risk of painful sunburns and long-term skin damage while enjoying their day outdoors.