Being comfortable (and safe) in your own skin

Although summer break for many Americans is inconceivably more than half over, there are still many vacations, barbeques and outdoor games to be had. While you’re enjoying the sunshine, make sure you’re being nice to your skin. This is of particular concern to men, who on average spend more time outdoors for both work and play than women. Unfortunately, men also appear to be less aware of the risks of sun exposure and do less to protect themselves when they’re outside. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, white men over 50 are the demographic with the highest rate of skin cancer, and men in general are less like to take precautions or to quickly deal with skin issues when they do develop. Do men just care less about taking care of themselves? The results of a 2006 study about the prevalence of sun-care products in popular U.S. magazines suggests that part of the issue is simply lack of awareness. Analyzing summer issues of the magazines, the researchers found that 77% of advertising for sunscreen and similar products occurred in women’s magazines, while publications targeting men such as outdoor recreation magazines included such ads only once every six issues on average. There’s a self-perpetuating cycle of public perception that men don’t care as much about their health, and then less information targeting men with products and suggestions that can help them avoid serious health issues.

I’m not suggesting that sunscreen is the ultimate solution to skin diseases such as melanoma. But certainly, using the appropriate kind and amount of these products is one of the best ways to protect yourself if you’re going to be outside. Other simple suggestions: don’t leave home without a hat and sunglasses, and when possible wear a long-sleeve shirt to better protect your arms (wear sunscreen anyway). For some helpful tips on when, where and what type of sunscreen to use, take a look at this page from the Skin Cancer Foundation: One important note is that clouds don’t keep all of the sun’s rays from reaching your skin – so get in the habit of wearing some sunscreen daily, no matter what the weather is like. Equally important is being aware of changes in your skin such as moles and sores that could be symptomatic of cancer or other serious diseases. Some helpful tips on what to look for can be found here: When you spot changes or irregularities, be sure to see a doctor right away. Finally, help your family and friends by encouraging them to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun and to perform regular self-examinations to catch any problems early. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and don’t forget to take care of your skin!


“Men and Skin Cancer: Solving the Knowledge Gap.” The Skin Cancer Foundation. 2010.

“BU dermatology study says sunscreen advertising doesn’t reach men.” BU Today. June 7, 2006.

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.


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