The one place where you're forgetting to put sunscreen

We love summer for a rainbow of reasons -- beach days, outdoor barbecues and summer travel to name a few. While we can't wait to take advantage of these sunny days, it's important to keep the dangers of the sun top of mind.

Even if you think you're pretty good about sun protection, it's crucial to remind yourself that a hat and a few dabs of sunscreen don't cut it. In fact, you can still get burned even in the shade due to UV radiation reflecting off surfaces such as sand or water. And yes, sunscreen does expire. 

To make sure we're fully covered, we chatted with dermatologist Whitney Bowe about her top tips for sun protection and the one place we're forgetting to put sunscreen. 

AOL: Where are some places on the body that people are forgetting to protect from the sun?

Dr. Bowe: Some of the worst burns that I see are on the tops of the feet and on the ears! People just completely forget to apply sunscreen to those areas! I also often remind my patients to use lip balm with SPF to be sure that their lips are protected! Other spots people often miss is the delicate skin on their eyelids and around their brows, along their hairline, under the straps of their bathing suits, and on the back of their necks. 

Are lips more susceptible to sunburns?

Many people don’t realize that, like your skin, your lips can become sunburned. You can even develop skin cancer on your lips, which can be very aggressive in nature and prone to spreading. People sometimes mistake pre-cancers, or full-blown skin cancers on their lips for severe chapping, so they just keep rubbing moisturizer on their dry, chapped lips, but the chapping doesn’t go away. I’ve also seen melanoma on the lip so if you develop any new brown spots, it’s worth a trip to your derm!

Are there any specific ingredients we should be looking out for in products to protect us? 

Yes, I recommend that my patients use lip balm with SPF. One of my favorites is eos active lip balm with SPF 30. It is sweat and water resistant for 80 minutes, which is really important during the hot summer months when we spend so much time swimming and in the heat. Also, the moisturizing shea butter is very nourishing, leaving your lips smooth and hydrated.

What are some other ways we can protect ourselves from the sun? 

I take a 360-degree approach to sun protection. I absolutely encourage my patients to think outside the sunscreen box when it comes to healthy summer skin. For example, I love UPF fabrics for summer. I find that UPF 50+ rash guards and swimsuits have been a game changer for my family because you don’t need any sunscreen underneath the fabric! Also, nicotinamide is a vitamin that has been shown to decrease your skin of skin cancer! I use and recommend Heliocare Advanced, which protects against skin cancer and slows down signs of aging.

Related: At-home remedies for sunburns

At-Home Remedies for Sunburn
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At-Home Remedies for Sunburn

Take a cool bath -- not cold -- to soothe your skin.  Don't use soap, and leave the loofah behind.  You don't need to irritate your skin at all right now!

For some added comfort, try adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to your bath water.  Another soothing option to add is oatmeal: add 1/2 to 1 full cup into the cool bath to soothe your skin.  With all forms of bathing, keep the water cool and don't linger longer than 15-20 minutes or you'll risk drying out your skin.  Always pat dry, do not rub.

Take an aloe vera plant (found easily at your local plant nursery) and squeeze some of the gel out of the leaves onto your burn.  Rub the gel in gently. It causes your blood vessels to constrict, soothing a painful burn.

Yes, you read that right! Take 1-2 small potatoes and blend them until they are in liquid form.  If necessary, add some water.  Once they're completely blended, pat your burn with the mixture and allow to dry. Take a cool shower to rinse the potatoes off your skin.

This one's simple: just like when you have a fever, zap some of the heat from your skin by applying a cool, soft washcloth.  For extra relief, add a dash of baking soda to the water you're soaking the cloth in, and hold gently on your burn.

Soak a cloth in a solution that is half vinegar (try Apple Cider Vinegar), half water and apply to your burn.  There isn't much science behind it, but lots of people swear by this fix!

Tea seems to be a miracle-worker, and not just for your cold.  When you have a burn, try soaking tea bags in cool water and then applying to your skin.  Look for tea that contains calendula, which has soothing properties.  Mint tea is cooling, and will help as well.

Heal your burn from the inside out: hydrate your body.  Drinking lots of water will help you heal, because it replaces moisture that the sun has stolen from you.

Vitamin E isn't just essential for consuming, it can work wonders on your skin topically too.  Break open a capsule and apply the vitamin directly to your burn to encourage the healing process.  One editor of ours has even used vitamin E capsules to make a scar disappear faster -- and it works.


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