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How To Properly Apply Sunscreen: The Forgotten Spots

how to apply sunscreen

As we reviewed last week, the three factors that can most harm your skin are smoking, alcohol, and the sun. While the first two are simple to avoid, the sun isn’t as hard to keep away. The trouble being obvious: you can’t stay inside all day, and why would you? The outdoors are fun and healthy for your lifestyle. Last week we discussed the most important defense for your skin: sunscreen. We helped explain exactly what SPF is, the different types of sunscreen, and how exactly it works. However, because we think it’s extremely important to get our point across, we’d like to talk some more about protecting your skin, some of the most commonly forgotten spots, and what to do in case you do get burnt.

When applying sunscreen, no matter the spot on your body, always be generous with the amount you apply. Never skimp. Skimping leads to burning. Secondly, apply your sunscreen 15 – 30 minutes before you head outside. Sunscreen takes time to be absorbed into your skin in order to work properly. If you apply it after you’ve gone outside, you’re potentially exposing your skin to the hot sun for over 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes can make all the difference.

As well, always reapply sunscreen after about two hours of exposure. The way UV sunscreen works is by trapping the high-energy sunray photons and absorbing them into their structure. It then re-emits the energy as a harmless form. The sunscreen’s structure can only last so long before it begins to deteriorate. Reapplying will assure that the sunscreen doesn’t wear off before it’s completely deteriorated. Furthermore, the more intense the sun, the harder the sunscreen has to work. So while on a cloudy day you can get closer to 3 hours with the same sunscreen, on a very sunny day, you may want to reapply closer to an hour or an hour and a half.

When applying sunscreen, make sure to pay attention to these commonly missed spots


It’s funny to even think you could forget about applying sunscreen to the part of the body that applies the sunscreen. It’s not that people forget the hands, but more that they assume, because they were using their hands to apply sunscreen that they don’t need to go over with extra detail. That’s the mistake. While fingers and palms may be covered, the backs of the hands are often ignored. Make sure when you finish applying sunscreen to the rest of your body, you use a generous amount on the hands.


The intricacies of the ear can make it a hard spot to fully cover, but one worth paying attention to. Burning just small pieces of the ear can create a lot of irritation if missed. However,  try not to use large gobs of sunscreen on the ear.  You don’t want to accidentally clog or irritate the ear canal or the function inner parts of the ear. Rub a small amount on the hand and rub the outside of your ears generously.

Behind the Knees

One of the worst spots to forget, the area behind the knees can be extra painful when walking, running etc. The back of the knee and the calves should be concentrated on together. Make sure to add a good layer of sunscreen too as the back of the knee skin can be very sensitive.

The Feet

Similar to the ears, the feet are intricate enough that you may miss a few spots if you don’t really pay attention. Burning your feet can be an extremely painful situation. Do not skimp the sunscreen when applying to the feet, make sure to use a lot. Often the feet have the most sensitive skin because they’re covered up much more than other areas, so keep this in mind when applying sunscreen.

Back of the Bicep

The back of the arm up to the armpit is a very hard spot to reach. Unlike the back, which you absolutely need someone to apply sunscreen too- the back of the arm is reachable by yourself. However, because it’s an awkward position, many people miss parts of the arm causing intense burning. While you can be extra meticulous when applying to this part of the body, it may be wise to have a friend help you along with the back.


Though many bald men have experienced the curse of a burnt head, men and women with thinning hair often forget to cover the exposed parts of their head. Many times a strong part in the hair can also be left exposed to the hot sun. In these cases, it makes combing the hair a torturous process. If you have exposed area, dab large quantities of sunscreen on them and rub them in. Don’t worry about rubbing it into the hair it won’t damage it.

As much as we advise you to wear sunscreen and to protect your skin, more likely then not, you’ll experience some burning throughout the year.

Here are a few tips to help your burnt skin heal faster

Stay Hydrated

First, drink plenty of water. We cannot emphasize this enough. When you burn your skin, the sun has basically taken all of the hydration from your skin and sucked it out of you. Your skin is burnt because it is dehydrated. Any way to re-hydrate the skin is a good measure to help. So obviously drinking a lot of water is going to be the first step.

Use Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a natural succulent species that secretes a white, moisturizer-like liquid. In fact, it’s better than moisturizer and is a really great tool to help revitalize skin and keep it from being too irritated. Apply generous amounts of aloe vera to your skin and let a thin layer stay on top of the skin by not rubbing it in all the way. This will help prevent the skin from drying out and becoming more irritated.

Use Regular Moisturizer

After your damaged skin has improved a bit and  seems to be healing, use moisturizer to help treat it. This will be the final step in rehydrating your skin and getting it back to its original state.

Finally, when skin starts to peel- do not pull it off, you can end up exposing unhealed skin. Rather, let it peel off naturally. This may be more uncomfortable, but it will ensure that your skin will heal correctly.

When skin is beyond damaged, there are still potential solutions. Dr. Dayan and his team can help revitalize your skin with collagen-promotion and by removing the damaged skin from your body. For more information, contact Dr. Dayan today and make an appointment for better-looking, healthier skin.

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Steven H. Dayan, M.D. FACS is a world renown facial plastic surgeon who has helped over 30,000 patients reach their goals.

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