You could say we're sun worshipers. Our moods ebb and flow with the changing weather, and as far as we're concerned, a dose of sunshine is as good as a cup of coffee. But as uplifting as a sunbath is, the damage we're doing is ultimately irreversible. This is something we're sure you're aware of, but the sad truth is that when you dive deep into sun protection, the facts aren't always well-known. Take, for example, sunscreen. We all know to apply (and re-apply) the UVA/UVB shield, but are we applying it correctly? According to top dermatologists: no. Even if you faithfully apply sunscreen every day, chances are you're missing spots on your body that you haven't even given a second thought. It's scary, really, because these often missed spots become popular areas for skin cancer. Where are these areas, you ask? Keep scrolling to find out.
I'm personally guilty of not applying enough sunscreen/missing spots on my back, so much that I've already had three mole removals (not fun, by the way). This handy long-handled tool from Xen-Tan is technically a sunless tanning lotion applicator, but it's perfect for sunscreen application, especially if you don't have someone around to help you rub it in.
Dr. Sandra Kopp of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC says that the lips are a commonly missed area. Carry a balm with you everywhere you go so you always have it on hand (and consider incorporating it into your everyday beauty routine). "Remember to use a chapstick with SPF to prevent skin cancer on the lips, which can be aggressive if it occurs," she explains.
Have you ever felt the sun beat down on your head to the point where you were left with a red scalp? Doctors Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields note that this area is often overlooked. If potential greasy hair is keeping you from applying sunscreen to your scalp, try this mineral powder SPF from Peter Thomas Roth. What's more, it'll even act a bit like dry shampoo when you apply it! Just be sure to re-apply after getting your hair wet. Says Kopp, "For men or women with thinning hair, it is especially important to remember hats or sunscreen, as their scalp is getting exposed daily and it is not an obvious area one would notice skin cancer on their own."
Dr. Kopp also notes that these areas are often overlooked, leaving room for increased UV exposure throughout the years, leading to sun damage and, in worst cases, skin cancer. This sunscreen from Cane + Austin is super sheer, eliminating the annoyance of thick, greasy lotion.
This stick may be made for a baby, but the design makes it a little more enjoyable to apply to your ears than rubbing lotion inside them.
Your hands are very indicative of your age, but if you've neglected to shield them from the sun for most of your life, there's a chance they could look even older than they are (scary, right?). Rub some sunscreen onto your hands (and body) every day, no matter the weather (the Kardashians swear by it). Same goes for your tootsies—remember to apply sunscreen all over your feet including the bottoms.
Skin cancer underneath your nails is also something that's overlooked and not given enough attention. An early sign of skin cancer underneath the nail is a dark stripe from the base to the tip of the nail and is most common in darker skin tones. If not detected early enough, it could advance, creating a lesion underneath the nail, which could then eventually lift the nail. Do yourself a favor and apply sunscreen on your nails and toenails, and if you frequently keep them polished, each time you remove the color, remember to give your nails a thorough inspection. (A clear polish with sunscreen is actually a plus, like Orly Sunscreen for Nails Top Coat, $8.)
So how can you become proactive about preventing skin cancer? Getting an annual body scan at the dermatologist is incredibly important so that they can identify problem areas before they become full-fledged skin cancer. According to doctors Rodan and Fields, early signs of skin cancer and things to watch out for include pimples that do not heal, a new growth, something that is bleeding, a mole, or skin that is changing. And of course, slather sunscreen on every day (yes, even when it's cloudy out).
What's your favorite type of sunscreen to use? Tell us below!