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The 5 places most people miss with sunscreen

Most Australians know the importance of protecting ourselves from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun. After all, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and are encouraged to ‘slip, slop, slap’ from childhood.

Unfortunately, even if you’re regularly applying the right amount of sunscreen, it can still be easy to miss a spot and leave patches of skin vulnerable to sun damage.

In 2017, the University of Liverpool presented a study where 57 men and women were asked to apply sunscreen to their face. Researchers took photos of each participant before and after their sunscreen application using a special camera that made the sunscreen appear black. On average, people missed 9.5% of their face.

This study is just one example of how easy it is to unintentionally neglect certain areas when applying sunscreen. If we’re missing nearly 10% of our face, imagine how easy is to miss parts of the body — a far greater surface area of skin.

With that in mind, here are five places that many people forget or miss with sunscreen:

The skin around your eyes

The study mentioned above found that the most commonly missed areas when applying sunscreen was the eyelids at 13.5%, and the inner corner of the eye and bridge of the nose at 77%.

This is particularly worrying when you consider how thin and delicate the skin around the eye is, and how frequently this area is exposed to the sun. In fact, according to the University of Liverpool, 5-10% of all skin cancers occur on the eyelids.

Not only does this data reveal how important it is to apply and reapply plenty of sunscreen to the eye area, but it also reinforces the benefit of other methods of sun protection, like wearing a hat and sunglasses.

When purchasing a hat, remember to choose one with a broad brim that shades the face and neck from the sun.

When it comes to sunglasses, select wrap-around styles that sit close to the face. Be sure to check that they meet the Australian Standard AS1067:2016 and choose a category 2, 3 or 4.

Your lips

Much like the eye area, the skin on your lips is thin, delicate, and repeatedly exposed to the sun, making it vulnerable to sun damage.

The good news is that protecting your lips from the sun is easy. Simply choose a lip balm with SPF30 , and remember to reapply regularly. Not only will this protect your lips from harmful UV rays, but it will also ensure that they’re moisturized and less prone to chapping.

The tops of your hands

Whether we’re typing away on our keyboard at the office, holding the steering wheel to drive, or even turning the pages of a novel while lying by the pool, we are constantly using our hands — yet they rarely get the sun protection that they deserve.

The hands are one of the first places to show signs of ageing like age spots, wrinkles and thinning of the skin.

If you’re someone who regularly uses hand cream, why not swap your regular lotion for one that contains SPF30 ? That way you’re not only moisturizing the skin but also protecting yourself from the sun.

You may wish to consider stashing a smaller bottle or roll on in your bag, on your desk, or somewhere visible where you will remember to regularly apply it.

The tops of your ears

It can be easy to forget to apply sunscreen to the ears, especially the top of the ear, as it is such a small area of skin. Unfortunately, unless you’re wearing a hat with a brim, the tops of your ears will always be exposed to the sun’s rays when you’re outside.

Anyone who’s been burnt in this area can attest to how sensitive this area is, so remember to cover your ears the next time you’re applying sunscreen.

Your neck

Much like the hands, the neck and the top of the chest are especially vulnerable to the sun and susceptible to damage and premature ageing. Even if you’re being sun smart and wearing a top that covers your shoulders and arms, the neck and the top of the chest are often exposed.

When you apply sunscreen to the face, eye area, and ears, be sure to apply extra on your neck (including the back!) and any parts of your chest that will be exposed to the sun during the day.

Don’t forget

In addition to the five spots mentioned above, here are a few extra areas to watch out for that are often missed during sunscreen application:

Your feet

Your toes

The backs of your knees

The parting of your hair/your scalp

Your midriff if you’re wearing a cropped top

The centre of your back (ask a friend for help!)

Your belly button



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