Tuesday, 07 November 2023 11:06

Beating the Burn

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The importance of protecting skin from the sun to avoid its harmful effects is one of the most commonly shared skin care sentiments. Still, many clients admit that they do not consistently apply sunscreen daily, and even if they do, most do not reapply throughout the day, which is just as critical. Whether skin becomes sunburned or not, unprotected sun exposure can truly cause long-term, severe damage to skin and overall health. It is critical to begin exercising safe sun care practices at an early age, but it is never too late to incorporate sun protection into one’s daily routine. Knowing how sun damage occurs, how it presents itself in skin, and how to effectively practice sun care is vital.  


Many people, including experts, have trouble differentiating between the biological signs of aging in skin and the signs singularly induced and accelerated by sun exposure. Though the end results of either factor may appear the same, biological aging is determined by age and genetics, and it can be accelerated or slowed through various dietary and lifestyle habits. Sun damage is differentiated by being caused by exposure to ultraviolet light sources solely, which leads to accelerated aging in skin by permanently altering skin’s structure. When unprotected skin is repeatedly exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, it produces melanin, which acts as a natural protection or sunscreen by absorbing the energy from ultraviolet rays and depositing it on skin in the form of dark spots and freckles.1 This type of damage occurs throughout various layers of skin beyond the surface, including the dermis, or the deepest layer of skin, and it can take years before this damage becomes visible.  

There are three types of ultraviolet rays to be aware of: ultraviolet A, B, and C. Ultraviolet A rays have the longest wavelength of ultraviolet rays, and as a result, penetrate skin on a deeper level, damaging proteins in skin like collagen and elastin. 

Ultraviolet B rays have a shorter wavelength than ultraviolet A rays, and though they do not penetrate as deeply into skin, they contain a higher amount of energy. As a result, they are the primary ray associated with sunburns and cause damage to the DNA of cells. There is a consensus amongst experts that ultraviolet B rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers. 

Ultraviolet C rays have the shortest wavelength of ultraviolet rays and contain the most energy. Historically, it has been taught that the earth’s ozone layer prevents ultraviolet C rays from reaching the earth. However, recent studies contradict this concept and show that they do penetrate the ozone. As a result, there are major implications regarding ultraviolet C rays and their impact on the health of the environment and on skin.2 Exposure to these rays may also occur through man-made sources like specific lamps and lasers, such as those used to sanitize materials of harmful microbes.  

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  1. Yale Medicine. (2022, October 28). Photoaging (sun damage). Yale Medicine. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/sun-damage#:~:text=It%20happens%20when%20ultraviolet%20(UV,damage%20surfaces%20and%20becomes%20visible  
  1. Herndon, J. M., D. Hoisington, R., & Whiteside, M. (2018). Deadly Ultraviolet UV-C and UV-B Penetration to Earth’s Surface: Human and Environmental Health Implications. Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International, 14(2), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.9734/JGEESI/2018/40245 
  1. Sunburn. The Skin Cancer Foundation. (2022, January 28). Retrieved March 15, 2023, from https://www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/sunburn/  
  1. NCI Dictionary of Cancer terms. National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2023, from http://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/melanocyte  
  1. Gregg, Náosha. “Inflammaging Skin: Causes, Effects, and How to Prevent IT - Glamour.” Inflammaging Skin: Causes, Effects, and How to Prevent It, 2022. https://www.glamour.com/story/inflammaging-skin.  
  1. “How to Treat Sunburn.” American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed March 15, 2023. http://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/treat-sunburn.  

Brian Goodwin is an award-winning international educator for Éminence Organic Skin Care. As a master medical aesthetician, master herbalist, and consultant, Goodwin leverages over 10 years of spa industry experience to bring fun, engaging education to spa professionals around the world. Voted “Favorite Brand Educator” in DERMASCOPE’s 2019 Aestheticians' Choice Awards, Goodwin delivers influential trainings which continue to raise the bar for professional education and garner worldwide peer recognition. Goodwin embraces every opportunity to share his passion and guide industry professionals on their path to success. He has educated and consulted to more than 2,000 distinguished spas and has notably been invited to deliver keynotes at major industry events across North America.  

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April 2024

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