As Summers Get Hotter, ‘Sunxiety’ Is on the Rise

Increasingly hot and sunny summers are giving consumers “sunxiety” — and it’s impacting their sunscreen preferences.

As extreme heat continues to affect much of the United States, a new study has found that anxiety about the sun and its harmful effects — or “sunxiety” — is growing among consumers and driving preferences when it comes to sunscreen.

The study, conducted by leading behavioral research company Veylinx, analyzed the sunscreen-related behavior of 1,609 U.S. consumers in June 2024.


Among the respondents, the study found that while 71% enjoy moments in the sunlight, 38% of people never feel fully relaxed when they're out in the sun as a result of its potential to damage skin and cause skin cancer. More than 60% meanwhile report burning very easily, and 41% express concern specifically about skin damage.

When it comes to usage, the study reveals that 30% of respondents apply sunscreen daily during the summer, and 21% apply it five or six times per week. The majority of consumers are looking for strong sun protection, with 65% of consumers saying they prefer sunscreens with an SPF greater than 40.

Just 27% use sunscreen year-round, however, and 32% apply it only on sunny summer days despite the fact that the sun can cause damage all year-round, even on cloudy days.

When it comes to specific products, those with anti-aging benefits drive a 49% increase in demand, followed by hydrating products (33%), and those with vitamin C (23%).

The most preferred consumer brands include Neutrogena (41%), Cerave (38%), Coppertone (35%), Olay (33%), Supergoop (17%) and Target’s Up & Up brand (14%).

And it seems consumers are concerned with their environmental impact as well as sun protection, as 27% choose reef-safe sunscreens and those interested in these products are willing to pay 14% more for them. However, only 16% choose sustainable packaging, and they are unwilling to pay more for it.

The results align with a recent Google Trends report which found that “sunscreen,” as well as “what does skin cancer look like,” are being searched more than ever in the U.S. — suggesting that increased education about sun safety and protection is needed as climate change continues to worsen.

What does skin cancer look like?


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with roughly one in five Americans developing skin cancer in their lifetime.

Rates have been rapidly rising over the past 30 years, doubling from 1982 to 2011 and increasing by 31.5% between 2011 and 2019.

As a result, knowing how to spot skin cancer is perhaps more important than ever, particularly because catching it as early as possible makes it far easier to treat.

According to the American Cancer Society, there are different things to look for depending on the type of skin cancer. When it comes to melanoma — one of the deadliest types of skin cancer — you can use the ABCDE rule: this stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving.

When using this rule, check to see if a beauty mark or mole is asymmetrical, meaning one side or part doesn’t match the other. Then, check to see if the edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred. Next, check to see if the color is consistent throughout or whether it differs, including shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.

While melanomas can also be small, check to see whether a spot’s diameter is larger than one quarter inch across. Lastly, check to see if the spot is evolving in size, shape, or color.

Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are meanwhile more common and less deadly than melanoma, and they’re most commonly found on the body parts that get the most sun exposure — including the face, head, and neck.

Basal cell carcinomas may look scar-like, have red and raised patches that may itch, have small translucent bumps, have pink growths with raised edges, and have open oozing or crusted sores.

Squamous cell carcinomas may meanwhile have rough red patches that may bleed or crust, have raised growths, have open oozing or curated sores, or have growths that look like warts.

But not all skin cancers look like these descriptions, so be sure to contact your doctor if you find any new spots, particularly if they look different from the others on your body, don’t heal, have redness or color or swelling that extends beyond the edges of the spot, itch or cause pain that doesn’t go away or returns, or change in texture or appearance.

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