When we apply sunscreen, most of us usually start with the face; it’s easy to remember because it’s right there in front of you. Arms and legs usually get SPF love, too, and most of us give the back and shoulders attention when we know we’ll be swimming.

But, if you’re headed out for a day of fun in the sun, there are other areas that are exposed, too—areas you might not even think about, but should, because missing them can lead to sun damage. Here are some sunscreen application tips to ensure you’re sun-safe from head to toe.

Heads Up

Research shows that traditional sunscreen application (that is, covering the face, arms, and legs) doesn’t fully do the job when it comes to protecting skin from sun damage. When you’re thinking about applying sunscreen, you need to take it from the top.

That’s right, start with the top of your head. The scalp is just as vulnerable to sunburn as anywhere else, and that’s not just the case for people who don’t have hair. Anyone with close-cropped hair, shaved hair, or even just a part in their hair should apply sun protection to that exposed skin. We do realize that applying a thick, heavy cream in your hair isn’t a wise option; this is where a lightweight spray sunscreen formula can be a real asset. (Wearing a hat also helps.)

Check Your Neck

Even if you have long hair or are wearing a high-collared shirt, if you’re out for a long day of adventuring, your hair and collar can shift (or you might pull your hair up if you get warm). It’s best to protect the back of the neck even if you don’t think you need it.

Tips and Toes

We don’t mean manicures and pedicures, but the tips of your ears and your feet. The tops of your ears are often an afterthought, but they see a lot of sun exposure, even when you’re wearing a cap, and not just during all-day outdoor activities. Any time spent out in the sun (even waiting for a bus or walking from your car to the office) puts those tender ears at risk. Remember, the phrase “my ears are burning” should be figurative, not literal.

As for your feet, anyone who’s had a sunburn there knows how annoying and painful it can be, because you generally cover up that skin with socks and shoes. If you’re going out barefoot, with sandals, or even with a mostly closed shoe with an open cut-out design, slather on that sunscreen. If you’re worried about your footwear sliding off after you apply, choose a non-greasy option that sinks right into skin.

Worried about sun protection for your eyes? We’ve got that covered, too.

Now you’re ready to go. Keep this info as a mental checklist, so the next time you venture outdoors, all of you can have a good time!

References for this information:
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2017, ePublication
Medicine, July 2017, pages 444–447
British Journal of Dermatology, February 2015, pages 475–483