The 9 Most Common Spots People Miss When Applying Sunscreen
Don’t learn the hard way that you skipped a spot.
There are some random body parts you’d never realize could get sunburned until, well, they get sunburned. Large areas like the shoulders, cheeks, thighs, and stomach usually get a lot of attention while you’re applying sunscreen (which is a great thing—don’t stop!), but you might be neglecting a few sneaky, vulnerable places that could cost you down the line. Don’t just slather sunscreen onto obvious, easy-to-reach limbs—you have to protect all the nooks and crannies of your skin. Here, a few commonly missed spots you’ve glossed over with sunscreen for the last time.
1. Hair Part and Scalp
If you’re not wearing a hat and your hair part is left exposed to the sun, it can absolutely burn. Not only is it uncomfortable and detrimental to the vulnerable skin on your scalp, but it can start to flake and itch as it heals. Not interested in applying goopy sunscreen onto your head? Mona Gohara, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, recommends dusting a powder sunscreen onto your hair part to keep it safe from harmful rays ($65; amazon.com).
This spot might not be the most secret, but it often gets overlooked. And don’t just apply here when you’re wearing a strapless bandeau bikini: Cover up with an SPF anytime your neck and chest will be exposed to the sun, whether its going for a run in a tank top or wearing a sleeveless dress to an outdoor party. When you do, apply all the way across your chest, from armpit to armpit (if you’ve ever been burned right around the bra line, you know how important this is).
The skin on your lips is extremely delicate and as susceptible to sun damage as any other area. Keep an SPF lip balm ($3, walmart.com) handy any time you're out in the sun.
4. Hands and Wrists
If you spend a day by the pool reading, think about how easy it is for the tops of your hands and raised bones of your wrist to fry. But this spot can get burned by less obvious sun exposure too, like while you’re driving—yes, even through a car window. Protect those beauties (and keep them looking young) by applying (and reapplying) to the tops of your fingers, wrists, and hands.
5. Tips of the Ears
Include the tops and outer rims of each ear when layering sunscreen onto your face and neck. You might think ears are safely hidden by hair or a hat, but you’d be surprised how easily this very exposed feature can get red and sun-damaged if you’re not careful.
6. Belly Button
It sounds weird, but if you have an innie with any sort of exposed skin, the sun’s rays can reach your navel too. You may have an outie belly button that already gets covered with sunscreen when you do the rest of your torso—or a very deep innie that’ll never see the light—but if you’re somewhere in between, swipe a small amount onto this small, but crucial spot.
7. Backs of Knees
You already know your legs need lots of sunscreen, but make sure you’re getting every inch, front and back. The skin on your legs might seem tougher than your lips or chest, but the sun plays no favorites—there’s nothing worse than coming home after a day outside and realizing the backs of your knees are medium-well.
8. Tops of Feet
Have you ever tried to wear shoes after a nasty foot sunburn? It isn’t pretty. Give the tops of your feet and ankles a thorough dosing of sunscreen before heading outside barefoot or in open-top shoes.
Pay attention to your eye area, being careful not to miss the eyelid and brow bone. Use a sunscreen stick ($24; amazon.com) to avoid liquid running into your eyes (especially if you’ll be swimming or sweating). Beyond SPF, wear a hat and properly protective sunglasses (The American Optometric Association recommends finding a pair that blocks 99 or 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays.) Lily Talakoub, MD, encourages people to stay away from metal-rimmed shades, which can absorb rays and heat and exacerbate skin pigmentation.