An anonymous questionnaire was given to a convenience sample of 253 beachgoers on Galveston, Tex, public beaches during the summer months of 2004 to evaluate use of lip protection against UV radiation (UVR) damage. Beachgoers used significantly less (P<.0001) UVR lip protection (47%) than UVR skin protection (78%). Of individuals using UVR skin protection, 100% of those surveyed indicated that they were aware of the risk of skin cancer from UVR exposure, whereas 75% using lip protection were aware of the risk of lip cancer (P<.0001). In those using both lip and skin protection, concern about UVR damage to skin was much greater than was concern about damage to the lips (81% vs 61%, P=.0003). A significantly higher percentage of women protected their lips from sun exposure than did men (61% vs 20%, P<.0001). Ten percent of men expressed concerns about the masculinity of lip block use (ie, that it is perceived as a product used by women), compared with no women (P=.03)
The most commonly cited obstacles to UVR lip protection were forgetting to bring or apply products with a sun protection factor, lack of concern about UVR, and bad taste. Comfort issues, appearance issues, and altered food and drink flavor were also found to be obstacles to use. Whereas changing levels of concern about UVR and concerns regarding the masculinity of lip block may be complex issues, taste, comfort, and appearance are all modifiable factors. Research with the goals of improving materials and vehicles used in lip block seems warranted, because this approach could increase the rates of lip protection in the future. Educating the public about accelerated nonchronologic lip aging may be another approach to improving UVR lip protection.