9 Crucial Places You're Forgetting to Apply (and Reapply) Sunscreen

·6 min read

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Knowing skin cancer is the most common and preventable cancer is terrifyingly empowering. We hold the power in our hands to protect ourselves with a bottle of sunscreen, a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses, and long-sleeved clothing. But sometimes, we skimp on the SPF. We dispense a hefty dollop of sunblock and slather it everywhere we can, not realizing we are forgetting crucial areas in the process, like the back of our legs, hands, and top of feet.

Until we're able to easily dip our whole bodies in vats of sunscreen so every spot of our bodies are protected, we created a checklist for you to keep in mind every time you apply sunscreen. These are the places dermatologists have noticed their patients miss when layering SPF onto their faces and bodies.

As a result, these areas have become common locations for skin cancers, says Rhode Island-based board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Tiffany Libby. "I don't think patients intentionally skip these areas, but rather no one's told them how important it is to remember to apply sunscreen to these also vulnerable areas," she explains.

Well, that's where we come in. Let's go head to toe, shall we?

Scalp 💆🏻

Starting from the top of your head, be sure to coat where you part your hair with SPF, as well as your hairline, Libby says. Not only will you be protecting your scalp from skin cancer, but you'll also preserve the health of your hair. "UV rays can make hair brittle and appear frayed," New York City board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla previously told Allure. "Sunlight is drying and can lighten hair simply from exposure."

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Try a transparent facial sunscreen, like the Allure editor-favorite Sonrei Sea Clearly Gel Sunscreen, or a sun-protecting hair mist, such as the Coola Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 or Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30. Or you can simply top your head with a hat. We always love a good bucket hat for its wide, face-shielding brim.

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Eyelids 👁

Board-certified Chicago dermatologist Jennifer Choi has noticed her patients often skip sunscreen on and around their eyes because the product can bleed into their eyes and cause stinging. However, covering this area with SPF is crucial as eyelids are a common site for skin cancer diagnoses. "We see many basal cell skin cancers develop on the lower eyelid margins," she continues.

To avoid irritation and SPF running into your eyes when you sweat, cosmetic chemist Ginger King recommends seeking out a physical sunscreen in a balm form, such as Green Goo's Solar Goo, as opposed to a chemical one or one in lotion form. It will stay put much better. Be sure to layer the sunscreen onto your eyebrows, too, Libby adds.

"Of course, sunglasses always help because you are not only protecting the eyelids, but you are also protecting the eyes," King also notes.

Lips 👄

A frequently missed area for sunscreen among the patients of Robert Finney, board-certified dermatologist at Entière Dermatology in New York City, is the lips. (Libby also lists them off as a commonly skipped place.) "This is concerning because it has been shown that if you get skin cancer on the lip, it can behave more aggressively than other areas of the body," he explains.

The easiest way to avoid getting squamous cell carcinoma on your lips is by swiping on an SPF-infused chapstick frequently throughout the day. Be sure to give your lower lip extra love as it gets hit with the most sun, Finney notes. Our product pick: the Thrive Causemetics Sunproof Intensive Lip Balm SPF 24.

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Ears 👂🏾

Another high-risk area for aggressive skin cancer that Libby mentions is the ears. Just because you believe your hair is covering them is doing the trick to protect them from the sun, they're still exposed to UV rays. "We see many skin cancers on the ears, including the rims of the ears, earlobes, and even inside the ears," Choi adds. Behind your ears is just as susceptible to skin cancer, too, so don't forget to run sunscreen on that area too.

In addition to SPF, wide-brimmed hats yet again come in handy for shielding this part of your body.

See the video.

Neck 🙅🏿

When you're slathering sunscreen on your face, are you also bringing some down to your neck? Choi's patients often forget to, jumping straight to their arms and chest. Stop doing yourself this disservice. Don't neglect your neck.

The back of your neck is also an important spot to remember — no matter what length your hair may be. "Believe it or not, we see skin cancer here even in [people] with long hair," Choi says.

Hands 👋🏻

Choi and Libby agree the tops of the hands are often overlooked and have become one of the most common places for skin cancer. "People either apply it here and then wash it off, so it's no longer on or effective," Choi theorizes. "People also forget to apply it here, even when they’re just driving. UVA rays go right through windows year-round."

Face or body sunscreen will do the trick, but hand creams spiked with SPF also exist. We love the Unsun Hand Cream SPF 15.

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Feet 👣

Greasy sandals may seem unpleasant, but the tops of your feet need to be protected from the sun too. "Many people come in with sunburns or tans with visible lines from their sandals," Choi points out. "We see skin cancer here too." Libby even agrees, so make your feet an SPF priority.

Back 🏃🏾‍♀️

Okay, you may be putting sunscreen on your back and shoulder before you leave the house, but these areas are often forgotten when people reapply two hours later, Choi says. For the same reason, skin cancer is also commonly caught on shoulders and backs. In this case, a little help from your friends for those hard-to-reach places can help prevent cancer.

Lower Legs 👖

One of the most common sites for melanoma diagnoses in women is the back of the legs, Choi shares. "They think they don't get that much sun on the legs because it's lower down on their body," she continues.

For this very reason, Supergoop recently launched Glowscreen Body SPF 40, which has a subtle shimmery finish, to encourage people to add the back of their legs to their sun-care routines.

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In addition to all this, Libby has a less specific but crucial addition: the edges of your clothing. Because of this, she recommends putting on sunscreen — preferably with an SPF of 30 — before getting dressed to make sure you don't skip anywhere.

Read more about sun care:

Now, see an Olympic surfer's entire routine in action:

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Originally Appeared on Allure