6 Places You're Forgetting to Put Sunscreen
Don't miss these burn-prone hot spots
There’s nothing more annoying than stripping off your bathing suit to reveal angry red marks where the straps shifted and the bottom rode up. But according to experts at Cleveland Clinic, these are exactly the spots that people often miss when applying sunscreen.
Other vulnerable body parts include portions of the face and neck, though any skin that’s repeatedly exposed to the sun can be at increased risk of sun damage or cancer. “For example, a bald scalp is perpendicular to the sun, so it gets hit directly by strong rays,” says Heather Rogers, MD, a dermatologist in Seattle, Washington.
“In my experience, face, hands and neck are the most commonly forgotten places, along with the scalp and ears in men,” says John Anthony, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic.
Adds Jason Reichenberg, MD, a dermatologist in Austin, Texas, “Men tend to get the most sun spots on the trunk and women get them on the trunk and legs, because these areas are traditionally left uncovered when you’re at the beach or out walking.”
The best way to be sure you’re not missing spots is to apply sunscreen before you get dressed. “It will be easier to cover every spot and you’ll avoid getting lotion or spray on your clothes,” says Anthony.
Also, try to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine. “We’re creatures of habit, so teach yourself to apply protection every day, rain or shine, paying particular attention to your face, chest and hands,” advises Rogers.
To stay burn-free this summer, be extra vigilant about slathering these six commonly missed body parts.
1. Ears and eyes. You ears, especially the tips, are sun magnets. Wearing a hat is smart, of course, but when you’re applying sunscreen to your face in the morning, rub it on each ear as well.
Eyelids also are vulnerable, but it’s not exactly practical to put sunscreen there (if it gets in your eyes, it can sting). A moisturizer with sun protection in it shouldn’t irritate your eyes, but sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays are more effective.
2. Left arm and both hands. Even if your arm isn’t hanging out of your open car window, the left one, as well as your hands on the wheel, are more likely to bake in the sun when you’re driving. Even if it’s chilly out but the sun is bright, put sunscreen on the backs of your hands and your arms if they’re exposed.
“If you’re driving a long distance, consider wearing gloves to cover your hands, as well as light-weight, long-sleeved shirt,” adds Reichenberg.
3. Scalp. “Men and women with thinning hair must keep in mind that this area can get a substantial amount of UV exposure,” says Anthony. Wear a hat with a wide brim or use a spray-on sunscreen that can be worked into the scalp. Another option: a powder sunscreen like Colorscience, which is easy to use no matter how much (or how little) hair you have, suggests Rogers.
4. Lips. A hat with a wide brim can shade the whole face, but you still should apply SPF to your pucker. Slick it on after eating, drinking and swimming. Pay special attention to your lower lip. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it’s 12 times more likely than your upper lip to be develop cancer.
5. Back. Often people can’t reach every spot on their own backs, “so they leave irregular patches uncovered,” says Reichenberg. The same happens with the backs of legs. The obvious solution is to have someone else do the applying. When that’s not possible, opt for a spray-on sunscreen that you can aim yourself.
6. Tops of feet. Strolling the farmer’s market in flip-flops or sliding your bare toes out from under the shade of the beach umbrella leaves the tops of your feet vulnerable. Slather them with sunscreen unless you're willing to wear closed shoes or endure the pain.
Related: Test Your Summer Sun Smarts