The current study tested whether self-affirmation or self-compassion exercises, shown to increase message acceptance, could maximize the benefit of a UV photo intervention on skin protection cognitions. College women (N = 167) were randomly assigned to: (1) view a UV photo or Black and White (no-UV) photo of their face and (2) write a self-affirmation, self-compassion, or neutral essay. Participants who saw their UV photo reported healthier cognitions, including greater perceived vulnerability and intentions to protect skin. Within the self-compassion condition, participants who saw their UV photo were also more likely to take the sunscreen packets offered. However, neither self-affirmation nor self-compassion enhanced the effect of the UV photo. Within the UV condition, women who completed these exercises had similar (and occasionally less healthy) cognitions and behavior as those who wrote a neutral essay. The benefits of self-affirmation and self-compassion in conjunction with health messages may be limited to higher risk groups who experience more message defensiveness than the current sample.