Last week, we heard from Dancing With The Stars‘ pro Witney Carson about her skin cancer diagnosis—melanoma on the top of her foot, and one of the key places people to forget to cover when applying sunscreen. Not just on the beach either: If you’re wearing sandals or any type of shoe that exposes your feet to UV rays, damage is possible. The feet are just one of the body parts we need to keep on our mental head-to-toe SPF checklist. Here’s the full list of sneaky spots to keep in mind, according to dermatologists.
“I have seen skin cancer everywhere,” says West Palm Beach, FL dermatologist Kenneth Beer, MD. “In my opinion, the most commonly ignored areas are the scalp and lips. People forget to look at their scalp, and sometimes they have so much hair that their dermatologist can’t see the area properly.”
New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD says the scalp is particularly threatening. “Last week I diagnosed a melanoma on a scalp, and today a basal cell on the hairline. Hairlines and scalps are commonly overlooked for fear of affecting one’s hair with sunscreen, but there are many sunscreens now made specifically for scalps, such as COOLA Scalp & Hair Mist Organic Sunscreen SPF 30.” Other options include Sun Bum Scalp & Hair Mist SPF 30 and EltaMD UV Stick SPF 50, which is popular for using down the hair part, as well as on bald heads. “If you do not want to apply sunscreen to your scalp, it is imperative that you wear a protective hat,” says Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill. Look for one with a wide brim and UPF 50+.
For the lips, look for a broad-spectrum lip balm with SPF 30 or higher (many lip sunscreens only contain SPF 15). We like eos The Guardian SPF 30 (a 2022 NewBeauty Award winner) because it offers sufficient protection while also tasting like yummy watermelon. Dr. Markowitz also recommends Vanicream Lip Protectant SPF 30, which leaves a slight white cast on the lips until it fully absorbs so you make sure you covered them thoroughly. Both of these contain zinc oxide as a key ingredient, which Dr. Beer prefers in lip sunscreens (and being a derm in the hot sun of South Florida, he knows what works in sun care and what doesn’t).
Other often-ignored spots Dr. Longwill calls attention to are “behind the ears, on the eyelids, behind the knees, the tops of the hands and feet, and between the fingers and toes.” On the eyelids and behind the ears, Dr. Beer recommends Alastin HydraTint SPF 36, which has a slight tint that blends in well with makeup or also makes it so that you don’t need any at all. “My belief is that most of the sun damage is done early, so preventing damage prior to age 21 or so is key.”
Also a South Florida doctor, Dr. Longwill has diagnosed her fair share of skin cancers over the years, and advises patients to make sure they apply sunscreen every day, even if they are staying home and sitting on the couch. “The UV rays come in from the window in your home, and especially while driving in your car! It is also important to get your annual skin check! Schedule an annual appointment with your local dermatologist.”