While the majority remember to cover up their children, many forget to shield themselves, which is putting them at risk of skin cancer, said Cancer Research UK.
Almost half of UK parents (47%) admit they often forget to use sun cream when outside because they are concentrating on protecting their child's skin, according to a poll.
The survey of 950 parents with children under the age of 18 found 74% always make sure their children are wearing sun cream that is at least factor 15 when they are playing out in the strong UK sun.
But only 38% always apply it to themselves.
Meanwhile, 55% always make sure their child spends time in the shade but less than a third seek it themselves.
And 62% always ensure their child covers up with clothing or a hat, but only 23% take the same precaution for themselves.
"Parents need to practise what they preach and take care of their skin too," said Sarah Williams, of Cancer Research UK.
"Using a combination of shade, clothing and at least factor 15 sunscreen will help protect skin from harmful UV rays."