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Think you’re covered when it comes to sunscreen? Surprise: most of us aren’t using it correctly.
One study showed that most people apply only 20-50 per cent of the amount of sunscreen they actually need. Plus, we often miss many of the most sun-sensitive spots. Men are even less likely to apply sunscreen correctly, putting them at increased risk for many skin cancers.
Remember, when you’re out in the sun, most people need to apply around seven teaspoons of sunscreen to their whole body. To avoid feeling and looking like a 1970s lifeguard, apply half as a first layer, wait a few minutes and then apply a second coat.
Back: Didn’t get someone to put sunscreen on your back and ended up with a patchy burn from all those spots you couldn’t reach? The back is the most common site for melanoma for Kiwi men.
Face: With 70 per cent of basal cell carcinomas (the most common form of skin cancer) occurring on the face, you can bet this is a prime area for protection. Don’t skimp — use at least a teaspoon’s worth of sunscreen. Worried about breakouts? Look for a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic and wash your face as soon as you’re out of the sun.
Nose: Ok, so technically it’s part of your face. But as it represents 24 per cent of all non-melanoma skin cancers in women (making it the most common site for women), the nose deserves its own shout-out.
Ears and scalp: These body parts are especially high-risk, making up 28 per cent of all non-melanoma skin cancers in men and 20 per cent in women. Honestly, when was the last time you put sunscreen on your ears? Top tip: always wear a wide-brimmed hat.
Legs (and feet!): Do you skip putting sunscreen on your feet and legs? That’s no good, especially because the legs are the most common spot for melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) in women.
Forearms and hands: The forearm is the second most common site of melanoma in women —and a common place we forget to apply sunscreen. Not to mention, your hands can often give away your age. Like your face, your hands are exposed every single day, so give them a little love with a daily moisturizing SPF – yes, that goes for men, too!
Lips: A common location for squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, your lips need protection, too! Protect them with lip-gloss or balm that contains SPF 15-30.
Edges of clothing: One of the most common places we forget to apply sunscreen is right at the edges of our swimsuits or clothes. Be sure to actually move your sleeves, straps and collars when applying sunscreen so you get full, even coverage.
Remember, daily use of sunscreen can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer. Slip, slop slap and wrap this summer!
This article has been published with the permission of the author, who used the following sources:
Cancer Society New Zealand, DermNet New Zealand, American Academy of Dermatology
Stokes, R. and Diffey, B. (1997), How well are sunscreen users protected?. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, 13: 186-188. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0781.1997.tb00227.x
The information published here should not be taken as medical advice, or as an endorsement of the author. At Fidelity Life, we try hard to make the information we publish accurate and helpful to you, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy and we aren’t liable for any action you take as a result.