• Alarmingly, nearly one in five Brits would go on holiday to a warm climate without packing sun protection, thinking they’ll be ‘fine’ without it.
  • Of those who do use sunscreen, nearly one in 10 only do so when they sense they ‘might’ be burning, despite 76% admitting that getting burnt has a negative effect on their holiday.
  • The research, conducted by O2 to mark Skin Cancer Awareness Month, found that sunscreen (17%) is the most forgotten item when heading to the beach or pool, while mobiles are the top item people prioritise taking with them on holiday (65%).
  • In a bid to highlight the importance of sun safety this summer, O2 – the only major network operator to offer inclusive EU Roaming up to 25GB as standard – has partnered with The British Skin Foundation and Green People to merge smartphones with sunscreen and create a limited-edition smartphone accessory complete with a built-in sunscreen to remind holidaymakers to ‘top up’ whilst soaking up the sun.

New research reveals concerning behaviours among British holidaymakers striving for a tan, with 6.4 million admitting to avoiding sunscreen*. The research, conducted by O2 to mark Skin Cancer Awareness Month, found that nearly one in five (18%) would go abroad to a warm climate without packing sun protection, thinking they’ll be ‘fine’ without it – with this feeling higher amongst men (24%) than women (12%).

Other reasons for Brits neglecting to wear sunscreen while away include forgetting or not buying any while on holiday (24%) and alarmingly, some even doubting whether it works (5%). 17% of those visiting the pool or beach admit to having previously forgotten sunscreen compared to just 8% forgetting their mobile phone**.

The research also found a surprising 7% deem sunscreen unnecessary as they have black or brown skin – which is a misconception commonly believed, with almost one in 10 (9%) of the general population thinking those who have skin of colour do not need sunscreen.

Among those who do apply sunscreen, nearly one in 10 (8%) only do so when they feel they ‘might’ be burning, despite 76% admitting that getting burnt has a negative effect on their holiday. Furthermore, two in five (39%) admit to frequently forgetting to reapply sunscreen throughout the day*** – even though guidance from the British Skin Foundation suggests reapplying at least every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating****. Of those who do remember to apply sunscreen, a third (33%) only apply it to select areas such as their arms, face and shoulders, opposed to a recommended full body application.

Despite 90% of Brits thinking it’s important to protect their skin*****, only two in five (43%) always wear sunscreen while on holiday, with 65% stating they prioritise packing their mobile phone over bringing sunscreen (57%) when jetting off into the sun.

Interestingly, 85% of individuals who frequently forget to apply sunscreen while on holiday expressed a desire for a product that could assist them in remembering, with 16% indicating that they would be more diligent with their sun protection if they had a product to remind them. In response, O2 has partnered with The British Skin Foundation and organic skincare brand Green People to create a limited-edition smartphone accessory complete with a built-in sunscreen tube, to help people protect themselves effortlessly throughout the day.

Available in selected O2 stores and inspired by Hailey Bieber’s viral Rhode ‘Lip Case’, the chic phone accessory features a handy 10ml tube of Green People’s best-selling SPF30 sunscreen, ensuring users will have an emergency ‘top up’ to hand.  Naturally unscented and enriched with over 60% organic Aloe Vera, Green People’s SPF gently soothes sensitive skin whilst it protects and contains Berry Wax to provide a splash of water repellence. 

Christian Hindennach, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “The findings from this study are truly concerning, with 6.4 million people admitting to dangerously avoiding sunscreen. That’s why we’ve partnered with The British Skin Foundation and Green People during Skin Cancer Awareness Month to create a smartphone accessory as a helpful prompt to ‘top up’ whilst on holiday. Whether you’re chilling by the pool or on the go this summer, we’ll have you covered both with free EU roaming up to 25GB and a helpful reminder to keep protected when in the sun.”

Green People founder, Charlotte Vøhtz, said: “We all need to protect our skin from the sun every day, so it’s a concern to know that so many are choosing to only use SPF once their skin starts to burn or not to apply it at all. Don’t let sunburn steal your summer memories. Make SPF your priority!”

Lisa Bickerstaffe, Head of Comms at The British Skin Foundation, said: “At the BSF we know that UV rays damage the skin and can potentially cause health problems in the future, so we’re proud to work together with O2 on this initiative by providing expert advice on sun safety to educate the public.”

The limited-edition free mobile phone accessory are available at selected O2 stores across the country, while stocks last, including London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast, so people, regardless of their mobile provider, can grab one ahead of the holiday season. Members of the public simply need to head to a participating O2 store and say “don’t get burnt” to a staff member at the till to get theirs.

For more sun safety tips, visit The British Skin Foundation’s website here.

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