So you finally found the perfect sunscreen, bring it everywhere you go and even make sure you don’t forget to reapply. You think you’ve already mastered sun protection down to a T—but think again. Most of the time, we only apply sunscreen on areas that we assume get the most sun exposure, often forgetting about those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. But here’s the thing: Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, can appear anywhere on the body, including areas we neglect to protect from the sun—like the palm of our hands, the top of our ears and even the soles of our feet.
Fortunately, the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer can be easily reduced by taking simple steps to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. When using sunscreen, it’s not only important to know which ones work best for you or when to apply and reapply. Getting optimum sunscreen defense means knowing how much you need to use (an ounce or about a palmful) and making sure you cover all your bases. To help get you started, we’ve listed our best tips and recommendations.
Scalp melanoma is more prevalent in men with thinning hair, but those with long locks and tresses are also vulnerable. Some experts even consider scalp (and neck) melanoma to be the most lethal. To protect yourself, always wear caps, scarves and wide-brimmed hats during prolonged sun exposure.
Tip: Need more protection? Up your defense with a spritz of Rene Furterer Solaire Protective Summer Oil, a nourishing, hydrating and waterproof mist conditioner infused with KPF 90 that protects your locks and scalp from sun, salt, wind and chlorine damage.
The most common types of nonmelanoma skin cancer often occur on our lips, and although they are highly treatable, there’s still a rare chance they could spread to nearby tissues and lymph nodes.
Tip: To protect your kissers, reach for a gloss or balm with SPF like EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 31. This balm is formulated with mineral blockers and antioxidants that protect your lips from UV damage and counter the effects of free radicals.
In men, melanomas often appear on the trunk (legs, in women), and while checking your chest for the ABCDEs of melanoma is easy, spotting strange moles on your back can be tricky. Same goes when you’re applying sunscreen, so enlist a friend to apply sunscreen on your back for you (and check for suspicious blemishes while they’re at it).
Tip: For hard-to-reach areas like your back, consider a spray formula like Coola Sport Sunscreen SPF 30. Infused with broad-spectrum coverage, this clear sunscreen has a soothing and cooling formula (great for inflamed skin!) that also offers anti-aging and antioxidant benefits.
The eyelids are another common site for nonmelanoma skin cancer, accounting for 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancer cases. However, many skip protecting this area as some sunscreens leave a stinging sensation on our eyes.
Tip: To protect your eye area, reach for SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50, a dermatologist-approved under-eye cream that prevents the signs of aging, promotes skin elasticity and reduces hyperpigmentation while delivering broad-spectrum UV protection. Its special formula makes it safe to apply on the sensitive area around the eyes.
According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, a 2013 survey revealed that only 30 percent of women apply sunscreen on their face and other exposed skin regularly. That’s bad news considering 70 percent of basal cell carcinoma occur on the face.
Tip: If you’re not a fan of thick and greasy formulas, reach for a double-duty mineral powder with sun protection like Colorescience Sunforgettable Loose Mineral Powder Brush SPF 30. This water-resistant, mineral-based sunscreen is safe even for sensitive skin and offers broad-spectrum protection while enhancing your skin’s natural glow. It also comes with a retractable brush to make it easier to reapply every two hours.
It sounds implausible, but a rare form of melanoma—acral melanoma—could indeed develop on palms and nail beds, particulary if you have highly pigmented skin (Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans are more at risk). In fact, reggae legend Bob Marley died of this type of skin cancer that developed under his toe nail. While a new study shows that acral melanoma is not linked to sun exposure, there’s no harm in providing UV protection for your hands and nails, especially since both are still susceptible to sunburn.
Tip: After washing your hands, reach for a hand lotion with SPF. Formulated with an innovative blend of botanicals and antioxidants, Supergoop SPF 40 Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckhorn is infused with UV filters to deflect sun damage while keeping your hands moisturized and countering visible signs of aging.