You might already know the importance of wearing sunscreen on your neck, back, and arms, but there's one area of the body that often gets overlooked: your nose. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, only one in three Americans rub sunscreen all over their bodies, and less than half apply it to their face. That's something we need to change ASAP. Putting sunscreen on your nose—as well as everywhere else on your body—should be a priority in your sun protection application process. While it might not seem like a big deal, forgetting to protect your nose from the sun's harmful UV rays can actually cause a lot of sun damage in the long run.
The Importance of Protecting Your Nose
The face is one of the areas most commonly affected by skin cancer, and your nose sits right at the center of it.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer-like basal cell carcinomas can be found on parts of the body that get the most sun exposure, like the nose. These high-exposure areas are also prone to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
In their early stages, it can be easy to mistake these for a pimple, scar, or sore, so you must be vigilant with putting sunscreen on those parts and know how to recognize skin cancer or precancerous growths.
If the threat of skin cancer wasn't enough to convince you to protect yourself, remember that scars and damage caused by any facial lesion will be extra apparent because of the nose's prominence on the face. UV protection is the simplest way to keep your skin healthy, young, and unblemished as you age.
So, what are the best practices? Well, it's pretty easy, and we've narrowed it to two simple steps. Read below to see our tips for putting sunscreen on your nose the right way.
Pick a Sunscreen That Works for You
The first step in putting sunscreen on your nose is picking one that you like and that you can incorporate easily into your routine. As we've written before, this is by far your best bet against the sun's harmful UV rays. With diligent application, sunscreen is proven to reduce your risk of getting squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is the second most common form of skin cancer—by about 40 percent. It is also proven to lower your risk of getting melanoma by 50 percent.
But how do you pick the right one? First, you must make sure your sunscreen is a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of at least 30. You can go with a higher SPF, but formulas with ratings beyond 30 have diminishing returns and can lull casual users into a false sense of security. After these basic criteria are met, you can select a formulation that works for your skin.
SPF products are categorized as either chemical sunscreen or mineral sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like avobenzone and octisalate, which absorb UV rays and dissipate them as heat before they damage your skin. Mineral sunscreens, like EltaMD's UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+, contain mineral active ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which act as a barrier to physically block and scatter UV rays before they penetrate your skin. While both are generally completely safe, those with sensitive skin often prefer mineral-based formulas because they are less likely to cause minor skin irritation.
Assuming the SPF is the same and they are used as directed, both chemical and physical sunscreens provide similar sun protection, so it's up to personal preference—texture, scent, convenient packaging, etc.
Test different ones to see what works best with you and your routine. Something lightweight and gentle like EltaMD UV Clear is recommended for daily use.
Get in a Sun Care Habit
Once you've picked a sunscreen, the next step is to build the right routines and stick to them. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you should be putting sunscreen on every day, at least 30 minutes before you go outside, and every two hours after that. It recommends one ounce (think two tablespoons) for a full-body application. However, when covering so much area, it can be easy to forget small but critical areas, like your eyelids or nose. Both of these are worth an extra few seconds to coat well—including the bridge, sides, and tip of your nose, and especially the creases on the sides of your eyes.
And there you have it. Two key pieces of advice for correct application of sunscreen to the nose. Remember, applying to this important area doesn't differ much from how you normally would put on sunscreen—the trick is finding a product you love and making a point of defending yourself daily.