sunscreen application mistakes

It’s well-known and frequently talked about that protecting yourself from the sun is crucial in preventing skin cancer and melanoma. Wearing sunscreen and protective clothing and seeking shade are all things we know to do. However, we all make mistakes — including when we’re out and about in the summer months.

To help keep your skin protected, we’ve listed five common mistakes people make in the sun.

1. Visiting a Tanning Salon to Prevent Burning

If you build a base tan, your skin will be used to the UV rays and you won’t burn, right? This is a common misconception. Indoor tanning is a known cause of skin cancers.

By using a tanning bed before you plan to spend a lot of time outside in the sun, you’re exposing yourself just as much — if not more — than you would have just going out into the sun. Plus, when tanning, you don’t use sunscreen.

Never Miss a Beat!

Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!

Message and data rates may apply. Text the word STOP to opt out and HELP for help. Click here to view the privacy and terms.

2. Applying Sunscreen When You’re Already Exposed

It’s not unusual to get to the beach or pool, set up your things, and then apply your sunscreen. Unfortunately, that’s not the right order you should use to go about the day.

Sunscreen should be applied generously about 30 minutes before you step out into the sun. After a half-hour, the UV blockers will have bonded to your skin, offering the best protection.

3. Not Reapplying Sunscreen Frequently

Sure, the sunscreen you’re using says it’s waterproof and sweatproof, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to reapply! After your initial sunscreen application, you should reapply every two hours, and especially right after you’ve been exercising or swimming.

4. Not Using Sunscreen with Enough SPF

You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30. A tan may seem nice, and the oils with lower than 30 SPF will get you there, but avoiding melanoma and other skin cancers is more important to your health.

5. Missing Important Areas On the Body

So, you’ve applied a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 a half-hour before going outside, and you’ve continued to reapply every two hours– you should be safe, right? Not necessarily!

Are you sure you applied sunscreen to ALL of your exposed skin? Commonly missed areas include:

  • Your ears.
  • The sides of your face.
  • The tops of your feet.
  • The front and back of your neck.
  • Your scalp or hairline (especially on receding hairlines, bald spots, hair parts, or if you have a buzz cut).

And don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm that contains SPF.

Are you guilty of any of these sunscreen application mistakes?

Follow these tips so you can be well-equipped to go outside and face the sun with confidence!

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

When you are facing cancer, you need the best care possible. UPMC Hillman Cancer Center provides world-class cancer care, from diagnosis to treatment, to help you in your cancer battle. We are the only comprehensive cancer center in our region, as designated by the National Cancer Institute. We have more than 70 locations throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York, with more than 200 oncologists – making it easier for you to find world-class care close to home. Our internationally renowned research team is striving to find new advances in prevention, detection, and treatment. Most of all, we are here for you. Our patient-first approach aims to provide you and your loved ones the care and support you need. To find a provider near you, visit our website.