The One Spot That Everyone Misses When Applying Sunscreen

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We hope that by now, given all we know about how it protects us from sun damage and skin cancer, you’re slathering on your SPF on a daily basis. But chances are even if you’re diligent, you could be missing a key spot: around the eyes.

At a recent British Association of Dermatologist’s Annual Conference, researchers from the University of Liverpool released findings from a small study about how we apply sunscreen and the places we miss when we do. Without giving participants any instructions prior to, they asked a group of 57 women and men to apply sunscreen to their faces. Then, using a UV-sensitive camera, they captured the places the participants missed.

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The most common missed spots? Around 13 percent of participants missed the eyelids and about 77 percent missed the area between the corner of the eye and the bridge of the nose. It’s easy to see why—anyone who’s ever gotten a dab in their eye knows that the stinging sensation is no joke. But that misapplication could have serious consequences. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancers on the eyelid account for five to 10 percent of all skin cancers.

So how do you make sure you’re covered without winding up getting the formula in your eyes? Dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. suggests using different products around your eyes that are more suited to the area’s unique needs. “Try using a sunscreen stick around the eyes, which provides a barrier so that SPF lotion doesn’t run in the eyes and irritate.” she says. (We like this coconut sunscreen stick from the Women’s Health Boutique). She also recommends dusting on a powder sunblock like Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush on Sunscreen SPF 50 ($64, sephora.com) to help prevent any painful reaction—and which can easily be reapplied throughout the day.

The report also recommends wearing sunglasses as well to double up on your sun protection in the eye area. Look for sunglasses with a label that reads “UV absorption up to 400 nm,” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements,” which means that they block at least 99 percent of UV rays, according to recommendations from the American Cancer Society. That super-vulnerable skin around your eyes will thank you.

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