Why won't men use sunscreen?

It's October. It's getting hotter. You know you should be doing it, but you're probably not.

The latest data on the percentage of Australian men using sunscreen shows that only 29 per cent of us (that's less than a third, Maths Boy) compared with 45 per cent of women, are likely to wear sunscreen on a summer weekend.

When used regularly and applied properly, randomised studies have shown sunscreen is effective in reducing the incidence of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

The risk of being diagnosed with melanoma before age 85 is higher in men (1 in 14) than in women (1 in 23). According to the latest ABS data, 69 per cent of Australians who die from melanoma are men.

Need any other reason to slip, slop, slap? If the health implications don't motivate you to apply some of that white stuff, what about male vanity?

Earlier this year, an Australian study found daily use of sunscreen significantly slows the ageing of skin caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays.

The world-first study of 900 young and middle-aged men and women showed that after four-and-a-half years, those who applied sunscreen most days had no detectable ageing of the skin.

They also had 24 per cent less skin ageing than people who used sunscreen only some of the time, if at all.

The Queensland Institue of Medical Research study was led by Queensland Australian of the Year, Professor Adele Green, in collaboration with investigators at the University of Queensland's School of Population Health.


"This has been one of those beauty tips you often hear quoted, but for the first time we can back it with science: protecting yourself from skin cancer by using sunscreen regularly has the added bonus of keeping you looking younger," Professor Green says.

"And the study has shown that up to middle age, it's not too late to make a difference."

Ever since I was a kid I've hated that gloopy, sticky feeling. Even now, with face stubble and leg hair thrown in for good measure, it sometimes gets a bit much.

But wife pressure (she's doing it, I should) and kid pressure (we're doing it, Dad), plus a growing appreciation of the power of the Australian sun, has changed my mind.

Do you wear sunscreen? Is it health or vanity that motivates you? And if not, why not?