Protecting skin health and the planet

Our partnership with the Skin Cancer Foundation

There’s never a wrong time to talk about skin health, care and protection. And as the northern hemisphere heads into the summer holiday season, it feels like a particularly appropriate juncture. 

We’re also hot on the heels of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May, which serves as another useful conversation starter and opportunity to continue educational campaigns providing guidance to people on how to keep themselves safe.

The annual initiative is the brainchild of the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF), a US-based organization with an international reach, which is on a mission to empower people to take a proactive approach to daily sun protection and the early detection and treatment of skin cancer. Its website is also home to some rather eye-opening facts, including:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70
  • More than two people die of skin cancer in the US every hour
  • Having five or more sunburns doubles your risk of melanoma
  • When detected early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%

Sobering statistics like this are precisely why this year DSM decided to sponsor the SCF’s mobile skin cancer screening and education program: Destination Healthy Skin. This program has enabled the Foundation to provide free screenings to more than 25,000 people over 15 years. The dermatologists who volunteer their time to perform the screenings have identified more than 10,000 suspected skin cancers and precancers and directly saved lives.


Bridging the knowledge gap

Despite initiatives such as these run by the SCF, instances of skin cancer continue to rise across the world. This demonstrates the ongoing need for awareness building and educational campaigns.

The 38-foot Destination Healthy Skin RV travels around the US from May to September, spending two days in each community it visits. It is equipped with two private exam rooms where local volunteer dermatologists perform screenings and, in the waiting areas, program managers answer questions and distribute informative materials and sun protection products.

Among the notable cities included on the 2022 schedule are New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, with events held in many of these destinations to raise awareness and educate those wishing to develop their understanding. 

DSM representatives have also joined the SCF on the road, attending key events where they help to answers questions from the public, including hosting Safer Under the Sun Day, a skin cancer prevention and education awareness event to commemorate the Company’s 2022 sponsorship of Destination Healthy Skin.

Engaging in open conversations with event attendees, DSM has confirmed that there are some commonly held misconceptions; people not realising how often they need to wear (or reapply) sunscreen, not understanding that skin protection is needed regardless of weather, or believing that wearing sunscreen will impact the positive benefits they might receive from vitamin D intake.

The first example is a case in point – a 2015 study in the US revealed that just 14% of men (293 of 2,093 respondents) and 30% of women (582 of 1,940 respondents) use sunscreen daily 1. This is not a problem limited to the US either; a global survey commissioned by DSM showed that almost half (44%) of respondents in France don’t use any sort of protection from the sun and its potentially harmful rays 2 .


Striking a balance between human health and that of the planet

One conversational topic that has grown louder in recent years is the potential environmental impact of UV filters. While this is a valid concern, some sensational, one-sided articles in the media have coloured perceptions on this front by not telling the whole story. In our mind, society would benefit from the media instead focusing on how conscientious consumers can strike a balance between their own health and that of the planet.

With consumer pressure and a move towards transparency in mind, the challenge to industry is to provide solutions for eco-conscious consumers. Working towards this goal should accelerate sustainable innovation and, in the meantime, we should continue efforts to maintain a balance between the health of humans and the planet.

There have also been helpful re-classifications of sun protection products in some regions as part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be required by outdoor workers, such as lifeguards or refuse collectors. Anything that improves accessibility to sunscreen can only be positive, and the repositioning of sunscreen as a necessity as opposed to a seasonal product is significant. 

Making a difference

We like to say that DSM stands for ‘Do Something Meaningful’. As part of our desire to drive change, we are working to get bemotrizinol approved as a new UV filter for use in over-the-counter sunscreens in the US. If this is successful, bemotrizinol will become the first UV filter approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in more than two decades. Stay tuned for our upcoming blog articles to read more on the registration progress.

The development of this product – PARSOL® Shield – is perfect evidence of our strategy to build partnerships through industry associations, collaborating with our customers and governmental leaders in the spirit of working together to benefit the consumers who are going to use the final products. Bemotrizinol would be the first new UV filter approved by the FDA since 1999, and it comes with a better environmental profile vs more traditional UV filters: a great example of how innovation will gradually move towards more eco-friendly formulations while protecting people from the negative effects of UV light.

Innovating to create sustainable products and developing formulation prototypes that encourage consumers to include sun protection as part of their daily routine, so that they can enjoy the sun safely, can have a significant impact on reducing the number of skin cancer cases, such as melanomas.

By combining new, sustainable and effective suncare products, with thoughtful, audience-specific education initiatives, such as our partnership with the SCF, we believe DSM can help to reduce the burden of skin cancer in our society. By joining forces and uniting as an industry, we can seize the opportunity to cultivate a new attitude toward sun protection that boosts both quality and quantity of life. 

Published on 1 August 2022


1.      Holman, D. M. et al. Patterns of sunscreen use on the face and other exposed skin among US adults. JAAD (2015). 

2. DSM’s quantitative online study among 5,600 consumers