May 29, 2017 Cosmetics news

Sun exposure: too many misconceptions, not enough caution!

How are the French doing with their perceptions and knowledge of the hazards related to sun exposure? Do they know everything they need to? Have received ideas persisted? According to a recent survey, despite repeated awareness campaigns over the past few years, there is still a considerable lack of knowledge, and it leads to risky behaviours when it comes to sun exposure.

This survey was conducted by Laboratoires de Biarritz among over 300 French people who have at least one child under 18, and who have recently bought a sunscreen. The results are surprising, even worrying. Indeed, if 97% of respondents consider sun protection an important issue, and 65% feel they are well-informed, misconceptions have actually persisted, and they can prevent the French from adopting all the precautions needed when they expose themselves to the sun.

An important issue the French do not know that much about

• One French person out of two thinks childhood sunburns have no implications during adulthood if they are well-treated.
The right message
Getting sunburnt during childhood considerably reduces your ‘sun resistance' (your defences against the harmful effects of the sun, which you acquire at birth and cannot be renewed). When you reach adulthood, you defend yourself less efficiently, and the risk of skin cancer increases.

• 1 French person out of 3 thinks sunburns make the skin less vulnerable to the sun.
The right message
The more you get sunburnt, the more your sun resistance is reduced, and the less your skin can defend itself properly.

• 1 French person out of 3 thinks they are protected from the sun in the shade or in the water.
The right message
Water provides a sensation of freshness, but it does let UV rays get through the surface. It reflects 10% to 30% of the radiation, and water droplets create a ‘magnifying' effect: caution! Water can actually amplify the radiation received.

Sunscreen products are not really understood

87% of the people surveyed think the information on sun product packaging is understandable. And yet…

• 9 French people out of 10 do not know what the UVA and UVB indications mean.
The right message
UVAs penetrate the skin down to the dermis and are responsible for the photo-aging induced by the production of free radicals. UVBs mainly reach the epidermis, trigger sunburns, and increase the risk of skin cancers.

• 4 French people out of 10 think they cannot get tanned with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF).
The right message
As soon as you are exposed to UVBs, even if you are protected with a high SPF, the synthesis of melanin (the skin's natural brown pigment responsible for your tan), is activated. Getting gradually tanned contributes to better preparing the skin for a more harmonious tan that will last longer.

Safety advice are not followed strictly enough

• 61% of the French do not take into account the indications on the label at all (UVA, UVB, filters, etc.) when they choose their sunscreens. They favour the price, the texture, and the shape. Only 64% of them read the instructions for use on the sunscreens they buy.
The right message
Choose your sunscreen according to your skin's phototype and exposure conditions (season, hours, latitude, duration). For really efficient sun protection, your sunscreen should have a minimum SPF of 30.

• 2 French people out of 3 do not systematically put sunscreen when they expose themselves to the sun.
The right message
The only solution to avoid the harmful effects of the sun is to preserve yourself from its rays. Apply sunscreen on the areas not protected by your clothes.

• 1 French person out of 3 does not systematically put sunscreen on their children exposed to the sun.
The right message
Children are the most vulnerable to the sun. To preserve their sun resistance, it is essential to systematically put sunscreen with a very high SPF on them.

• 7 French people out of 10 do not repeat the sunscreen application after they have had a swim, and 8 out of 10 do not do it either after perspiring.
The right message
To make sure you are always efficiently protected, put sunscreen again after a swim and/or sports activity, and check your skin is dry before you apply it.

We know UV radiation is the main factor responsible for the emergence of skin cancers: as a result, it is essential to keep repeating key prevention messages.

French people and sun protection, a survey conducted by Laboratoires de Biarritz

© CosmeticOBS-L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques
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