Itís easy to remember to protect your face from the sunís rays, but your neck also needs to be shielded. Finding and using a high SPF sunscreen is a great way to start. Just make sure to fully apply it to the hard-to-reach areas on the back of your neck. Check your application with a mirror, if necessary. You can even block the sun from your neck by wearing shade hats, scarves, bandanas, or high-necked shirts. Look for fabrics with a UPF rating of 50+ for the most protection. Keeping your skin healthy requires effort, but itís worth it in the long run.

EditUsing Sunscreen for Protection

  1. Apply a high SPF, broad spectrum sunscreen. No sunscreen can guarantee complete protection, but an SPF 100 sunscreen blocks about 99% of the sunís harmful UVB rays. Make sure it is labeled as broad spectrum, so that it will protect you from UVA rays as well.[1]

    • Look for a waterproof or sweat-proof sunscreen as well. Check to see if it will protect your neck for 40 or 80 minutes under wet conditions.
    • For even more protection, rub on a layer of lotion sunscreen. Then, follow it with an application of sprayed sunscreen.

  2. Rub on of sunscreen across your upper body, including your neck. Most people make the mistake of applying too little sunscreen for protection. Be generous when working the sunscreen into your skin. Use your fingers to feel across your neck to ensure that it is entirely covered.[2]

    • Itís generally best to apply your sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun. This gives the sunscreen time to form a protective barrier over your skin.

  3. Re-apply sunscreen to your neck every 2 hours. Sunscreen will eventually wear off and lose its effectiveness under normal conditions. If you are swimming or if you wipe your neck with a towel, then you may need to re-apply even sooner. Just to be clear, a higher SPF does not mean that it lasts longer.[3]

EditProtecting Your Neck with Clothing

  1. Wear a hat with a brim. A standard baseball cap can leave your neck and ears vulnerable to the sun. Putting on a hat with an extended brim guarantees that your neck will be slightly blocked from the sun. A straw hat can provide some protection, but a close knit fabric hat is even better.[4]

    • Some hats come with a reflective underside that actually repels the sunís rays.
    • Itís estimated that your skin cancer risk lowers by 10% for every 2 inches added to your hatís brim.[5]

  2. Don a shade cap. This is a hat that fits close to your head, like a baseball cap. However, it also has long, dense fabric draping from the sides and back. This fabric covers your ears and neck, shielding them from the sun. Buy a shade cap from your local sporting goods or outdoor store.[6]
  3. Wrap a bandana around your neck. Bandanas are lightweight, square pieces of fabric that can be easily folded into a neck wrap. You can tie the ends to the front or side of your neck. Adjust the fall of the fabric until if covers your neck from all sides.[7]

    • If itís extremely hot, soak your bandana in cold water before placing it on your neck for extra relief.
    • If you donít have a bandana, any piece of square fabric can really work the same way.

  4. Wear a high-necked shirt. If you are hitting the beach or swimming, look for a rash guard shirt with a neck that extends a few inches above your shoulders. This will block the sun without overheating you in the process. Many outdoor companies also sell lightweight shirts with extended, sometimes detachable, neck pieces.[8]

    • Check that the top is relatively tight-fitting or it could flop down and expose part of your neck to the sun.

  5. Select UPF clothing. Look for high-neck shirts, bandanas, or hats that are UPF rated. The UPF rating goes from 15 to 50+, with the higher numbers offering more protection from UVA and UVB rays. The UPF rating only holds true if the garment stays dry, though.[9]

    • For example, if you are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time, go with a 40+ UPF rating, as it can block around 98% of UV rays. A rating between 25-35 is a good option for brief periods of sun exposure.
    • Look for a sun wrap, which is a piece of fabric that sticks out from under your hat or d****s over your shoulders. This is a good option to protect your neck.

EditMinimizing the Sunís Effects

  1. Limit your sun exposure between 10am and 4pm. These are the peak periods of UV rays and the time when you are most likely to get burned. If the sun is high in the sky and your shadow is very short, then that heat is likely intense. Try to stay indoors during these hours or spend some time in the shade.[10]
  2. Carry or sit underneath an umbrella. Create your own shade by using an umbrella at the beach or by carrying an umbrella if you are walking around. Look for an umbrella with a high UPF protection rating. To fully cover your neck, lean the arm of the umbrella against your shoulder, so thatís its angled back.[11]

    • Some umbrellas even have vented seams to allow for more air flow.

  3. Pay attention to the feel of your skin. If you are out in the sun and the back of your neck starts to feel painful, then itís time to seek the shade. Your skin might also feel overly hot to the touch. Another sign of a possible sunburn is skin that feels tight, sticky, or stretched out.

    • To test for sunburn, press down on your skin with your finger. If your skin goes from white to red, you may be developing a sunburn.

  4. Treat a burned neck with aloe vera, soy, or calamine lotion. If your neck is red or painful, rub a bit of lotion into the skin. You can also take an OTC medication, such as ibuprofen, to help with the pain and swelling. Stay out of the sun until your neck, and other burned areas, are fully healed.[12]

    • Do not use lotions containing petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine on a sunburn.
    • Make sure to follow dosage or application instructions for any OTC medications or lotions.
    • For some relief, place a cool, damp cloth around your sun-burned neck once or twice a day until it heals.
    • Cover sunburned skin while it heals so that the burn doesn't worsen.
    • If blisters develop, do not pop or pick them. Leave them alone while they heal.
    • If you feel dizzy, weak, cold, feverish, or sick to your stomach, see a doctor.


  • Stay hydrated when in the sun. It will help minimize the burn risk to your neck and skin.
  • It only takes 15-20 minutes for a sunburn to occur.


  • Check that the sunscreen that you use on your neck is not expired or it may not be as effective.[13]
  • Taking certain medications, such as doxycycline, can make you burn more easily. Use extra measures to protect your neck if this applies to you.[14]

EditSources and Citations

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