Getting sunburnt once every two years can triple the risk of skin cancer but 46% of people surveyed in Scotland will take the risk, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
People in Midlands and Wales are more likely to burn deliberately (60%) while the UK average is 40%, the survey found.
The poll also showed that young people aged 18-35 were more than twice as likely as their parents aged 55+ to believe that burning in the sun will result in a quicker tan.
One in ten are planning to sunbathe in the UK without lotion, and men are almost twice as likely as women to avoid protection.
The number of people diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, in the UK is on the rise with around 35 people being diagnosed every day.
Carol Goodman, skin cancer nurse specialist on the Macmillan Support Line, said: “This new research shows that despite being aware of the health risks people are still burning themselves in the sun in order to get a tan.
“As we start to look forward to summer after one of the coldest winters yet, it is alarming that staying safe in the sun is not a priority for many people.
“Sunburn will cause serious damage to your skin which can lead to cancer. A diagnosis of malignant melanoma can be just as fatal as some other cancers.
“It is vital to protect your skin when out in the sun by using sun tan lotion, wearing sun protective clothing (including hats and sunglasses) or staying in the shade between the hours of 11am and 3pm.”
Judy Duddridge, 45, a skin cancer survivor, said: “I spent many summers in Dubai, and for years I sizzled under the Middle Eastern sun with little regard to sun protection.
“I used to want my pale skin to be golden brown so I mainly spent my holidays sunbathing, I only ever used sun tan lotion now and again and getting burnt wasn’t something I worried about. Looking back I just wasn’t sun aware.”