Your mother was right: You should always wear sunscreen.
And it’s an axiom that the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) keeps repeating over and over again as a way to ward off skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to its website, the AAD says that one in every five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.
The AAD (which seems mainly to exist to tell people to put on sunscreen every few hours … so it’s pretty much like your mother) offers this helpful piece of advice on the sunscreen FAQ portion of its website:
“Sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race.”
Now, let’s say you’re in a store ahead of that Caribbean vacation you’ve been planning since January and you’re looking at a shelf of different sunscreen products with varying levels of SPF (sun protector factor).
Which one are you going to pick?
A couple of years ago, the average consumer probably would have gone with an SPF 15 and not thought anymore about it, or maybe even an eight if they were looking to get seriously tanned. But a new study by The NPD Group says those days are over, and it’s all thanks to a growing shift in consumer consciousness that is seeing more and more shoppers focused on and more “well-versed in health and wellness.”
You might be saying to yourself that this is just sunscreen we’re talking about here, right, so who cares?
Well, the sun care market — which includes makeups and lotions that offer some form of SPF protection — accounted for $1.4 billion in sales over the past year. That’s a lot of sunscreen.
And NPD’s study found that, when consumers are buying sunscreen, they want more and more protection.
“Sun care looks to be the next beauty growth area to emerge as consumers move from a singular focus on correction to a broader focus on care,” Karen Grant, NPD’s global beauty industry analyst, noted.
Sun care products with a 30-or-higher SPF are also seeing the largest growth in the marketplace, while sun care products that offered lower protection levels have actually been declining over the past two years, NPD’s study finds.
From June 2014 to May 2016, skin care products with a 20 SPF have seen a 5 percent decline in sales, while sunscreen products with a 15 SPF have seen sales drop by 8 percent; inversely, 30 SPF sunscreen has seen a 9 percent sales spike over that time. Sales of 45 SPF sunscreen have grown by 29 percent, and 50 SPF sunscreen sales have shot up 31 percent over that time.
When it comes to makeup — arguably the most essential beauty product for any woman — the sales discrepancy was even more pronounced. Sales of makeup that contains 20 SPF skin protection properties have dropped 15 percent over the past two years, while 30 SPF makeup has seen a 43 percent sales rise. Additionally, 50 SPF makeup has grown by 96 percent, and 40 SPF makeup protection seems to hit the consumer sweet spot at the moment because its sales have grown a whooping 168 percent in the past two years.
In the past 12 months alone, sales of sunscreen with SPF of 40 to 50 have totaled $36 million, while sales of makeup products in that SPF range more than doubled to $14 million. That’s a whole lot of cash.
“From what they eat to what they put on their bodies, consumers are becoming more focused and well-versed in health and wellness,” Grant noted. “Consumers today are more proactive and less reactive when it comes to managing their wellbeing. This attitude also translates to the beauty consumer, whose emphasis today weighs less on fixing an issue and more on preventing one from happening in the first place.”
In other words, consumers are really looking to buy “healthier” products.
“For more than a decade, all the news in skin care was about serums and technology, but today, the focus has shifted to cleaner, simpler and lighter products. The growth in products with higher SPF ties into today’s mindset and is connected to other emerging care formats, including oil, water, milk and clay,” Grant said.
And just because the AAD hasn’t reminded us all to put on sunscreen again for a little while now, here are some helpful sunscreen applying tips offered on AAD’s website:
- Broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays is essential.
- SPF should be at least 30, if not higher.
- Your sunscreen should be water-resistant.
- Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.