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When It Comes to Skin Care, With Age Comes Wisdom

Views on Skin Care: A Survey of Adults Ages 18 and Older

A new AARP survey reveals older adults are better than young people at taking care of their skin — and women place greater importance on skin care than do men.

spinner image Cropped studio portrait of an attractive mature woman showing the healthy skin on her face and hands.

The national survey shows that having healthy skin is important to most people, yet they may lack awareness concerning the good habits needed to maintain healthy skin. In general, women and those ages 50 and older place greater importance on habits for having healthy skin, including drinking enough water, following a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. While 88% of adults over age 50 believe they do extremely or very well in taking care of their skin, 81% of those 18–34 and 80% of those 35–49 report the same.

What concerns adults most about their skin is dryness (37% of men; 42% of women), under-eye circles (20% men; 42% women), wrinkles (22% men; 38% women), and sun damage (27% men vs. 31% women).

To get information on skin care, people most often perform online searches (43%), followed by seeking out the expertise of medical professionals (41%). Also common is turning to family (28%) or friends (27%). As people get older, they tend to rely more on professionals and less on social media and other online information.

The majority of Americans (58%) typically spend less than $50 a month on skin care, but 18% of adults pay more than $50 a month, or at least $600 a year. Men are more likely than women not to invest any money in skin care (31% vs. 14%). Tracking with those levels of investment, 33% of men report no skin concerns, while only 19% of women surveyed say the same.

Based on the findings, the AARP report suggests it’s important for consumers to understand the accuracy of product claims and to have easy access to reliable information about best skin care practices.

The Need for Awareness and Action on Sun Care and Skin Cancer

One-fifth of U.S. adults will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, yet new AARP research shows that many people aren’t doing enough to protect themselves.

Only 37% of adults use sunscreen, the national survey of Americans 18 and older found, and one-quarter of all adults say they never do. Men are more likely than women (32% vs. 20%) to say they skip sunscreen altogether.

At 54%, wearing sunglasses is the most common way people fend off harmful rays. Nearly half (46%) protect themselves by staying in the shade. Other protections in use to varying degrees include wearing clothing that reaches your ankles (41%), wearing a baseball cap or sun visor (34%), wearing a long-sleeve shirt (21%), and wearing a hat, such as a wide brimmed one, that shades face, ears, and neck (27%).

Tanning for Appearance

Skin-protection habits could be influenced by attitudes toward tanned skin, associating it with good health and youthful looks. About four in 10 respondents say most of their friends think getting a tan is a good thing (41%). Many say a tan makes them feel better about themselves (38%), and tanning makes them more attractive (37%). Adults ages 18–34 are more likely to view tanning favorably than older Americans.

As people age, their awareness of skin cancer increases, although that awareness varies by gender.

While 80% of adults age 65-plus say they are extremely or very knowledgeable about skin cancer, the survey shows just 50% of those 18–34 felt the same. Men are more apt to believe skin care myths, such as the idea that sunscreen is not needed in the winter or on a cloudy day, or that skin cancer is not really a concern for people with darker complexions.

Prevention Practices and Awareness

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of adults of all ages say they are worried about skin cancer, but just one-third (38%) say they never do skin self-exams. Younger adults and men are less likely to check for potential problems than older people and women.

Americans are wising up to the risks of tanning beds. Just 25% of respondents have used a sun lamp, tanning booth or bed. Of those who had, 75% report no longer doing so.

The AARP report highlights the need for more education about the value of alternative tanning products, regularly using sunscreen, and performing regular skin self-exams.


The Views on Skin Care study was conducted by ANR Market Research Consultants for AARP among a sample of U.S. adults ages 18 and older. The national sample was weighted by region, race/ethnicity, education, age, and gender according to 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates. The survey interviews were conducted from September 14 to October 3, 2023 by phone, averaging 17 minutes. A total of 1,500 interviews were completed.

For more information, please contact Teresa A. Keenan at For media inquiries, please contact External Relations at