This experiment compared the effectiveness of health-based versus appearance-based messages on university students' intentions to protect their skin against the sun's damaging rays. One hundred thirty-four Ss completed a measure of appearance motivation, then responded to 1 of 3 essays about tanning and skin cancer. One essay described the health risks of excessive sun exposure, one essay discussed the deleterious effects of tanning on physical appearance, and a control essay described the process by which tanning occurs. Overall, the essay that dealt with the negative effects of the sun on appearance was most effective in promoting intentions to practice safe-sun behaviors. However, the appearance-based essay was effective primarily among Ss who were low rather than high in appearance motivation.