Michelle Monaghan Is the Queen of Sun Protection

The actor and skin cancer survivor has figured out the secret to easy sun protection—and you should copy her moves.

Michelle Monaghan attends the premiere of Netflix's "El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie" at Regency Village Theatre on October 07, 2019 in Westwood, California
Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic/Getty Images

After being diagnosed with skin cancer in her 30s, Michelle Monaghan doesn't mess around when it comes to sun protection.

The actor first discovered a mole on her leg with the help of her husband, Peter White. "My husband is from Australia, where they have a high incidence of skin cancer and receive a lot of education about it," says Monaghan. "He was very familiar with the ABCDEs [a mnemonic that helps you recognize skin cancer by seeing if the mole or growth is Asymmetrical, has Border irregularity, Color variation, a Diameter greater than a pencil eraser, or is Evolving in size, shape, or color] and noticed a mole on my calf that worried him." (

At the time, Monaghan knew very little about skin cancer; she didn't even have a dermatologist, she says. "My husband encouraged me to get a skin check for months and then finally put his foot down and I went."

At first, even Monaghan's dermatologist thought the mole was "probably fine," she says. But they removed it anyway and analyzed the mole for skin cancer cells, just to be safe. "Turns out, it was melanoma," she says. ICYDK, melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, but if it's caught early, it's usually curable, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Since then, Monaghan says she's been much more committed to protecting her skin. "I grew up on a farm in the middle of the country and I didn't wear a lot of sunscreen—I just ran wild and had a lot of fun," she shares. "Now, every morning, I shower, apply deodorant, brush my teeth, and then put on sunscreen no matter what."

Curious about the rest of her beauty routine and skin-care tips? Here's how she keeps it cute with sun protection top of mind.

Her No-Fail Sun Safety Strategy

"Find an SPF that eliminates steps in your routine. I love EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Sunscreen (Buy It, $33, dermstore.com). It's chemical-free, hydrating, and tinted, so it acts as my moisturizer and sunscreen and gives me nice, even coverage."

"I don't put foundation on top because I like to see my skin. Instead, I just apply concealer where I need it. I'm obsessed with Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer Broad Spectrum SPF 25 (Buy It, $73, nordstrom.com). It has the best coverage and goes on really easily. Then I put Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick (Buy It, $18, glossier.com) on my cheeks and my lips. And then I apply Moroccan Magic Organic Lip Balm (Buy It, $4, target.com) I'm a lip balm fanatic and I love this [one]!"

How She Gears Up for Outdoor Activities

"Everyone in my family is super active so I keep EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ Sunscreen (Buy It, $29, dermstore.com) on my kitchen island. No one has any excuse not to apply it before we head out (although I am a nagger about it). I also wear a bandana around my neck so that it and my chest are covered—I think it's quite chic."

"When I'm surfing, I wear a rashguard vest and even leggings; I really don't want to expose my skin any more than I have to. And when I'm in the pool I wear the Top Knot hat. It has an elastic opening for your top knot or high ponytail to go through it and it dries really fast. My daughter loves it, too."

"But if I'm poolside or traveling, I wear a Janessa Leoné straw hat. I've kept it collapsed in a bag for like 12 hours and it still looks amazing." (

She Doesn't Skimp On Regular Skin Exams

"I err on the side of caution and head to my dermatologist anytime I see something that looks off. If there's a mole that my derm thinks is probably okay, I say, 'Well is there any reason not to take it off? Let's just do it.'" (Here's exactly how often you really need to have a skin exam.)

"There's minimal scarring if you just biopsy a mole. But I can tell you from my experience that, should you wait too long, you will have a much more substantial scar. And that, unfortunately, will be the least of your worries."

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