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Do we spend more money on haircuts as we get older than protecting ourselves from sun damage and skin cancer?

haircut or skin cancer imageArticle by Fab after Fifty

As women get older they spend less money looking  after their skin and are more likely to think the key to looking good is a new haircut, is the finding of a new poll endorsed by the UK’s only national skin cancer-specific charity, Skcin (The Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity) that looked at attitudes towards sun damage to the skin.

The survey of over 1,000 women in the UK, which was conducted by specialist dermatology pharmaceutical company LEO Pharma in conjunction with Skcin, looked at what gives women their feel-good-factor and how they look after their skin health. The findings reveal that while most women are aware that not looking after their skin in the sun puts them at risk of skin cancer and signs of premature ageing, they aren’t always clued up on the early warning signs.

Charlotte Fionda, Director of Skcin, said: “Every year women in the UK spend around £544 million on anti-ageing creams and £7.98 billion on shoes. We all want to look our best but it’s important to remember that your skin is the accessory that sticks with you no matter which style is in vogue  – and there are  simple steps we can all follow to keep our skin healthy and protect it from sun damage.

Rough patches of skin can be a marker for increased risk of skin cancer

“Warning signs of skin cancer aren’t just about changes to moles. Rough patches of skin can be a sign of a condition called actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, which can be a marker for increased risk of skin cancer. This survey reveals 80 per cent of women don’t know what actinic keratosis is, despite up to 65 per cent of the non-melanoma skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, resulting from it. Actinic keratosis affects around one in ten of us aged 40 or over and this rises to one in four of us over 60.”

The poll also reveals that:

  • Women’s top rated way of keeping their skin healthy and youthful is to drink water (60 per cent), pushing SPF30 sunscreen use into third place (41 per cent).
  • Only six per cent frequently check their skin for changes, which can detect early warning signs of sun damage.
  • More than three quarters of women know that looking older and wrinkles can be a consequence of not looking after their skin in the sun but over two thirds don’t know that actinic keratosis can be too.
  •  80 per cent of women know changes to moles can be an early warning sign of long term damage to their skin caused by the sun but less than half (43 per cent) know rough patches of  skin can be a sign too.
  • Women under 35 spend an average of £260.40 on beauty products and skin care each year compared with an average of £202.80 a year for those 35 and over.

Look and FEEL for skin changes

Dr Vicky Jolliffe, Consultant Dermatologist, The Royal London Hospital, said: “We all want to enjoy summer weather but it’s important to protect your skin. Damage to your skin is cumulative – it’s not just the sunburn you might have experienced over this year’s sunny weather that you should worry about but the ten summers or more before that. Over time this can lead to actinic keratosis. In its early stages it can often be easier to feel than see (they feel rough like sandpaper) so it’s important to both look and FEEL for changes regularly. If you have concerns speak to your GP.”

Charlotte Fionda, Director of Skcin, added: “Many of us worry about premature ageing from sun exposure which causes wrinkles, but sun exposure can also mean you are putting yourself at risk of solar keratosis, which can lead to skin cancer. Investing in a high factor sunscreen that you wear routinely throughout the summer months and at other times when your skin is exposed to the sun, is  one of the best ways to protect your skin – and a bonus is it’s also one of the best anti-ageing products on the market. To find out more about how to protect your skin and check for changes visit

www.checkskinchanges.com and www.skcin.org.”


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  1. Jo Carroll

    August 28, 2013

    I don’t advertise this, as I don’t want loads of ‘cancer survivor’ stuff. But I had skin cancer – a very minor one, so it’s not going to see me off, but it did need getting rid of. Then I had a second – and picked it up early enough to deal with by zapping it with liquid nitrogen (not fun, but better than surgery). I’ve a patch on the back of my leg that I’m keeping an eye on at the moment,

    I know the risks – my cancer is insignificant, barely worth its terrifying title. But does make me at risk from some of the big buggers biting me on the bum.

    So – I slap on cream at the first hint of sunshine. I wear a hat even when it’s cloudy. I check my skin regularly.

    And then get on with life – which is far to wonderful to let skin cancer get the better of me.

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