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Sun Care: Man's Best Friend

By: Jennifer Linder, MD
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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In the past 20 years, however, these same types of images have begun to reappear, only they are now focused on the ‘perfect’ male image. Younger men now paying more attention to their hair, skin and appearance in general, and although comparing oneself to any manufactured vision of perfection is fruitless and counterproductive, this cultural shift has at least helped to increase the use of moisturizer with sunscreen and antioxidants. It has also opened the door to the possibility of sparing this younger generation from the increasing instances of basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma skin cancers in the future.

American men live an average of 73 years and are now, thanks to a slumping economy, working longer than ever. In this increasingly competitive employment environment, men have begun to seek out cosmetic services more frequently. According to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, there has been a 17% increase in cosmetic procedures for American men. That is more than one million procedures in 2007. And according to another beauty trend report from Information Resources Inc., the men’s facial skin care market hit $76.5 million in 2005. This revenue will undoubtedly increase as the desire for healthy, younger-looking skin grows in importance for men.

As skin care professionals, this knowlegde should be used to your advantage to educate your open-minded male clients on the real dangers of skin cancer and the simple preventive measures they can take to guard against it.

Paradigm shift

According to the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance and Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program, an estimated 34,950 men died of melanoma in 2008. The men at the highest risk of developing melanoma are those aged 55–64, followed closely by those 65–74. This group is made up of the men who grew up with macho cultural stereotypes and are typically less open to the discussions of skin care and sunscreen.

You would then expect men aged 75–84 to be even more deeply entrenched in representations of what is considered masculine, and they are, unfortunately, the demographic with the highest melanoma mortality rates in the United States. These statistics make it clear that the use of daily sun protection should be differentiated from the use of typical age-control products focused on women and younger men.