Even if you make sunscreen a part of your regular routine, there may be some places where you’ve been forgetting to apply it.
“We’ve all had those weird and splotchy tan lines and sunburns,” says Sarai George, M.D. a dermatologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “It’s important to make sure you’re applying sunscreen evenly and everywhere that’s not covered when you go out in the sun.”
A broad spectrum sunscreen protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of harmful rays the sun emits. But it’s crucial to apply it the right way.
“Sunscreen really isn’t effective unless you use it correctly,” George says.
Missing a spot with sunscreen can lead to sunburns and skin damage, signs of skin cancer and melanoma. Here are some places people frequently miss when applying sunscreen.
- Top of the head and the hair line: If you don’t want to use sunscreen to protect your scalp, wear a hat.
- Backs of the ears: You don't have to limit yourself to one type of sunscreen. Use what works for different areas of your body. You can use a spray bottle of sunscreen on your arms and legs and a sunscreen stick to get spots like your face and the backs of your ears. “The best sunscreen is one that you’ll use,” George says.
- Near the swimsuit or clothing line: Ever ended up with a sunburn border around where your clothes or swimsuit stops? “Make sure your sunscreen and your clothes or swimsuit overlap to protect your skin,” George says.
- Tops of the feet and back of the hands: These places are often forgotten and often in direct line of the sun, George says. Make sure you’re not missing these too.
Sunscreen: One part of your sun protection
While sunscreen can help protect your skin, it should only be considered one part of your sun protection plan.
“You can’t use sunscreen as a reason to stay out in the sun longer,” George says. “Instead, think of sunscreen as just one layer of sun protection.”
Follow these other tips to protect your skin from the sun.
- Seek shade whenever possible.
- Avoid the sun during peak hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Wear UV protection clothes.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the sensitive skin around your eyes.
Follow these tips to protect your skin from the sun and lower your skin cancer risk.