We all know that we should put on sunscreen every time we are out in the summer sun. But there are some important parts of the body we often miss.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
When is the last time you put sunscreen on your ears? These are among the places that people most often forget to apply sunscreen, says dermatologist Jennifer Lucas, MD.
“Common places people miss are going to be the ears, your eyelids, your lips, your scalp, the top of your feet or places near the edges of clothing, such as straps,” Dr. Lucas says.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are the major cause of skin cancer. Doctors believe that people can avoid most skin cancers by taking steps to protect themselves against the cellular damage these rays cause.
Here are 5 places that you’re probably forgetting to put sunscreen:
Research has found that ears are the third most common location for skin cancers. Skin cancers can occur on any part of the ear, including the conchal bowl (middle part of your ear), an area that is relatively protected from the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation says.
The best way to protect your eyelids is to wear sunglasses. But if you’re trying to avoid tan lines on your face, use an eye cream that contains sun protection factor (SPF), a sunscreen stick and/or one of the mineral sunscreens/sunscreen with physical blockers – titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, Dr. Lucas says.
A lip balm that contains SPF will protect your lips. Be sure to reapply frequently if you eat or drink. Skin cancers of the lip most frequently occur in fair-skinned men older than age 50. The lower lip is about 12 times more likely to be affected, owing to its greater exposure to sunlight, the Skin Cancer Foundation says.
The tops of your feet
A thick layer of dead skin cells protect the soles of our feet against the sun’s ultraviolet light. But the other side of your feet faces the sun directly when we’re wearing flip-flops and other skin-baring shoes. That makes this area especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
Your hair is only so-so protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Your scalp – especially if you’re bald – directly faces the sun, much like the tops of your feet. If you don’t want to wear a hat, be sure to put on some sunscreen.
“It may make your hair greasy and goopy, but you need that layer of coverage actually touching the skin,” says Dr. Lucas. “You may prefer a gel based sunscreen to more effectively cover and protect this area.”
Sunscreens are very effective when used properly. Follow these guidelines to get the most protection:
- Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection), water resistant sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. The number indicates how well the product protects from the burning rays of the sun.
- Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before you go outdoors. If you wait to apply sunscreen until you hit the beach, your perspiration makes your sunscreen less effective.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours while you are outdoors, even if the product’s label says “all day.” Reapply sunscreen if you are getting a lot of sun, swimming or perspiring heavily.
- Cover all exposed areas, including your face, neck, and the back of your hands.
- Apply a generous layer of sunscreen. Smooth it on rather than rubbing it in. It takes 1 oz of sunscreen, which is a shot glass or golf ball amount, to cover an adult’s body.
- Apply sunscreen under makeup.