Study shows millennials not using sunscreen due to low self-esteem

A simple application could be the different between life and death, but a new study says one generation isn't using sunscreen and the reason might surprise you.

Millennials are not using sunscreen, according to a study conducted by Oregon State University. They're not slathering on the SPF, at least, in part due to low self-esteem and high rates of narcissism.

"Basically, they asked them questions about their beliefs of sunscreen applications," said Dr. Fade Mahmoud.

Dr. Mahmoud, with the T.W. Lewis Melanoma Center for Excellence didn't partake in the study, but is all too familiar with cases like these.

The study included 250 college students, most between 18 and 23 years old. It measured their sun safety knowledge, including questions about sunscreen effectiveness and tanning motivation.

"I think the authors in the study found that participants that had low self-esteem and a high level of narcissism actually exhibited an addiction behavior in tanning," said Dr. Mahmoud. "They look at tanning as being beautiful. It gives them confidence while the participant with high self-esteem actually tanned less."

Researchers found no evidence that increased knowledge about sun safety leads to lower levels of addictive tanning, but Dr. Mahmoud says knowledge is power and could save lives.

"As a society, we have to move away from the narrative that tanned skin is associated with better health, with youth, with beauty. And that's not true. The fact is, tanned skin is damaged skin," said Dr. Mahmoud.