6 Spots You’re Probably Forgetting When You Apply Sunscreen

Don’t feel the burn—make sure these commonly missed areas get the sun protection they need.

You don’t need to be a doctor to know what the most important anti-aging and cancer prevention step in your skincare routine should be: Applying sunscreen. (Even just a sunscreen moisturizer is better than nothing.)

“Nothing decreases the aging process as powerfully as sunscreen,” says Zenovia Gabriel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Newport Beach, Calif.

Plus, sunscreen prevents skin cancer, the most common form of cancer, which is especially key now that skin cancer rates are on the rise. Between 1994 and 2014, nonmelanoma skin cancers in this country increased by 77 percent, and in the past decade, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed yearly increased by 47 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

While vanity might make it easy to remember to put sunscreen on your face (which you should do daily year-round, using a nickel-sized amount, Dr. Gabriel says), there are some not-so-obvious spots on the body that can be easily overlooked when you’re applying sunscreen, leading to sunburn and increasing your risk of skin cancer. Here are six spots to put on your sunscreen radar—just be sure you’re not using expired sunscreen.

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The tops of your feet

Hanging out at a pool or the beach? Heading to the farmers market? Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the tops of those feet and toes, which need as much sunscreen love as other parts of your body. “I see frequent feet sunburns with sandal or shoe pattern marks there,” says Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, who has a private practice in New York City.

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Your eyelids

Your eyelids and medial canthal areas—the corners of your eyes closest to your nose—have the thinnest skin on your body and the least amount of protection from UV rays, Dr. Gabriel says. While sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection can help, you should also wear sunscreen to protect that delicate skin, as eyelid skin cancers account for 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers, per the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Fortunately, most sunscreens are safe to use around the eyelids, but because this area of the body is so sensitive, you want to use a little more caution. For that reason, Dr. Gabriel recommends using mineral sunscreens made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, as they won’t cause the eyes to sting as much as chemical sunscreens—and if you’re confused about all these types of sun protection, study up on the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. You can also use mineral SPF powders that serve as double duty for protecting the eye area.

And if you get sunscreen in your eyes? “It’s not dangerous, but you should flush the eyes with water as soon as you can,” Dr. Gabriel says.

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Your scalp

Your hair will protect you from UV rays, right? Don’t count on it. “Your hair does provide a bit of protection, but it’s important to wear a hat as well, which also protects the ears, face, and neck,” Dr. Gabriel says. If you’re not into wearing hats, look for sunscreen powders and scalp mists.

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Your hands

One of the first places your body shows signs of aging is your hands, Dr. Gabriel says. In fact, one study revealed that you can tell a person’s real age just by looking at their hands. Whether just hanging out outside, driving, or working by windows, your hands, like your face, receive constant sun exposure. So put sunscreen on them daily, even if you’re not spending bona fide time outdoors. And any time you wash your hands (or do a sweaty activity or swim), reapply sunscreen on those hands (look for handy contraptions like HandiGuru refillable wristbands, which make it a cinch to have sunscreen at your disposal). And while it may sound goofy, wear gloves when you’re driving, even in warm weather, Dr. Krant says.

RELATED: We Put 50 Different Sunscreens to the Test—These Are the 10 That Really Work

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Your neck and chest

While you might remember to use an SPF moisturizer on your face, you’re most likely skipping your neck and exposed chest areas. No more. “These areas attract substantial damage from the sun’s rays and aren’t as easy to rejuvenate as people to expect nowadays,” says Dr. Krant, adding that even if you wear a hat, it won’t shade the chest enough.

As you age, this will lead to leathery, sun-damaged chest skin that’s hard to repair. And although skin cancer is possible on any part of the body, it’s common in the chest, especially in women, and if you need any type of surgery, the results are often not pretty. “This is an area known for making pretty bad scars after surgery,” Dr. Krant says.

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