Sunburn and sun damage are insidious, coming over you slowly, like the creeping realization that you’ve squandered your youth and abandoned your dreams. Luckily– at least with sun exposure– you can start all over again tomorrow, by looking after your skin and minimizing exposure to harmful, ageing rays.
I recently talked with Abi Cleeve from UltraSun, which makes high-quality, non-greasy, full spectrum suncreams. For a sunscreen zealot like me, this is what’s known as very exciting. I’m the one among my friends who goes to the beach and sits wearing a hat, under an umbrella, with a towel draped over my legs and zinc oxide on my nose. Put me in a room to talk about how to protect my pale, white epidermis and I’m in heaven.
Abi talks passionately about the importance of using good sunscreen – the kind that blocks not only UVB rays (the ones that redden skin) but also UVA rays (the ones that penetrate to the lower layers and contribute to or even initiate development of cancer). Both kinds are bad news if you prefer to not look like an old leather handbag.
But even if you are religiously using sunscreen – you are aren’t you? Every day? – you may like me be surprised to discover there are areas you’re likely missing. I thought I was thorough but when I got a screening that looked at UV damage to my face, it was obvious there are spots I regularly overlook.
Check this list to discover the places you are missing. You may not be able to actually recapture your youth, but you can stop photoaging in its tracks.
10 places you’re forgetting to put sunscreen
- The cups of your ears aka the pinna – You may remember the tops of your ears, but do you apply cream to the little rounded hollow that leads to your ear canal? That tiny bowl catches light every time you step outside, whether at the seaside or the bus stop.
- For women: The back of calves – It’s easy to forget the backs of your legs, which show from underneath skirts. This is another area that can get exposure throughout the year, not just during sundress season.
- For women: Décolletage – There’s something about crepey brown cleavage that has a whiff of cigarettes and post-divorce bitterness. I tend get red on my chest even through my clothes, so I keep a bottle of suncream in the bathroom and put it on before I get dressed.
- For men: Bald spot – Most men just want to forget it’s up there. But it is, basking in the sunshine, unprotected and vulnerable. Help it, even if your man won’t.
- Hairline – We get used to applying sunscreen to our faces, but it’s easy to stop short of the hairline. Go right up to your roots, and if you have a wide parting, dab some along that line too.
- The upper lip – This area, marked by your philtrum, is a little shelf that can catch the light. In my face scan, it was dotted with freckles – little bits of sun damage.
- Lips – Yes we want red lips, but it’s better to rely on our favourite lipstick rather than making them red and sore from sun damage.
- Under the eyes – The skin below your eyes is thin and delicate. Sun damage here means fine wrinkles, and even sunglasses let in light at the sides. I like to use UltraSun’s UV mineral eye protection SPF30, which contains antioxidants and my good old friend zinc oxide – and also brightens the undereye area. You just need a drop.
- Hands – They see the sun every day and provide telltale signs of ageing. Therefore they need a slather of suncream every day. Don’t forget the knuckles – especially important if you’re driving.
- Tops of the toes – When you break out the sandals, spare a thought for the top of your tootsies, which will be like little weisswurst ready to sizzle in the pan. Nobody wants a good pedicure ruined by red peeling skin.
Do you apply sunscreen every day? Got tips for avoiding sunburn? I’d love to hear your stories.
I was provided Ultrasun products to try. All opinions are my own.