Think you’re covered when it comes to sunscreen? Surprise: most of us aren’t using it appropriately. One study showed that most people apply only 25-50 percent of the amount of sunscreen they actually need. Plus, we often miss many of the most sun-sensitive spots. Extra important? Men are even less likely to apply sunscreen appropriately, putting them at increased risk for many skin cancers.
Remember, when you’re out in the sun, most people need to apply just under a shot glass’s worth of sunscreen to their whole body. To avoid feeling like a 1970s lifeguard, apply half as a first layer, wait a few minutes and then apply the second coat.
Didn’t get someone to put sunscreen on your back and ended up with a patchy burn from all those spots you couldn’t reach? The back is the most common site for melanoma in men and in women aged 15-29, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
With 70 percent of basal cell carcinomas (the most common form of skin cancer) occurring on the face, you can bet this is a prime area for protection. According to a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD), 30 percent of us skip sunscreen on our face, even when we’re applying it elsewhere. Don’t skimp — use at least a teaspoon’s worth of sunscreen on your face. Worried about breakouts? Look for a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic and wash your face as soon as you’re out of the sun.
OK, so technically it’s part of your face. But as it represents 24 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers in women (making it the most common single site in women), the schnozz deserves its own shout-out.
Your Ears and Scalp
These body parts are especially high-risk, making up 28 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers in men and 20 percent in women. Honestly, when was the last time you put sunscreen on your ears? Protect both spots with carefully applied sunscreen and rock a broad-brimmed hat. (Windy? Make a cute chinstrap; I like to use beautiful grosgrain ribbon!)
Your Legs (and Feet!)
In the JAAD study mentioned above, 40 percent of respondents copped to skipping their legs when they’re applying sunscreen to other areas. That’s no good, especially because the legs are the most common spot for melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in women.
Your Forearms and Hands
The forearm is the second most common site of melanoma in women — and the place we forget to apply sunscreen 35 percent of the time. Not to mention, your hands can often give away your age. Like your face, your hands are exposed every single day, so give them a little love with a daily moisturizing SPF.
Don’t forget your kisser! A common location for squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, your lips need protection, too! Protect them with lip gloss or balm that contains SPF 15-30.
The Edges of Clothing
One of the most common places we forget to apply sunscreen is right at the edge of our swimsuits or around straps. Be sure to actually move your straps when applying sunscreen, so you get full, even coverage.
Remember, daily use of SPF of 15 or greater can reduce your risk of skin cancer by 40-50 percent.
So, slather it on and get protected!