three people with bad sunburns make excuses, throw up their hands, and look dismayed

When People Don't Seem to Listen

I’m not going to name names, but not so long ago one of my family members came back from an outing with a bad sunburn. This human was not just a little pink, but a “lotta” red and I was not happy. No, I was ticked off, to be honest. How could this person go out and burn and seemingly ignore everything I believe in with regard to skincare practices? This person has melanoma both sides of their family and yet there was sun baking.

Does anyone care?

I have to admit that my anger soon turned to shame. I felt like a failure. How can I be admonishing an online community regarding sun care and be completely ignored by my own family? Don’t they know that I am an award-winning (minus the “award-winning”) writer for Aren’t they aware that a few people out in computer land actually read my warnings and heed my advice? Do I have that little influence under my own roof?

Why do people still burn?

The anger/shame moments soon became a reality check. This ultimately led me to ask the question, “why?” Why would this happen? Why would someone close to me go out and jeopardize themselves when they know better? It actually began to make me feel very badly. I wouldn’t wish the “melanoma life” on even my worst enemy (not that I have any worst enemies).

I found some answers

So, I asked this person about the sunburn and all I got was a shrug and no communication. At that point, I realized that this was a dead-end and that I probably needed to work on the relationship a bit. With this non-response in tow, I still wanted to know more. Why do people still refuse to wear sunscreen? I began to ask around and came to find out that there are a lot of people who don’t wear sunscreen for a myriad of reasons. Here is what I was told.

  • Sunscreen is too greasy/coats my skin.
  • Sunscreen makes my skin break out.
  • Sunscreen doesn’t work.
  • It’s cloudy.
  • I can’t be bothered.
  • I forgot/I couldn’t find it.
  • It burns my sensitive skin/razor stubble/my eyes.
  • I don’t like the smell.
  • I don’t want those chemicals on me.
  • I don’t like it on my hands.
  • I need to get a base tan.

When your family refuses sunscreen, lead by example

Interesting? These reasons fall into a number of categories from a lack of understanding to inconvenience to discomfort. I am pleased to say that many of these objections can be overcome through education, awareness, and better products on the market. What cannot be overcome is a lack of desire to protect oneself from the dangerous effects of UV rays and at that point, I don’t feel there is much that I can do. I can only do so much. I try to lead by example in those cases and make sure that my message is consistent.

Don't take it personally

I have learned to not take it personally, but continue to care for folks and point them in the right direction. I am pretty sure that there have times in my life that I made risky decisions either through a lack of awareness or a lack of wisdom. It’s like most things, early adopters will practice safe skincare practices as a matter of course and some at the other end of the bell curve may never. Seems to me that those somewhere in the middle will always be open to what I have to say.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.