With summertime here and everyone enjoying the sun with outside activities, it’s important to remember to protect yourself from the harmful rays the sun lets off. Let’s talk about the different UV rays, what they do to your skin, how to prevent sunburn, and what to do if you get burnt.
The sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) radiation. When you are exposed to UV rays, your skin tries to protect itself by producing melanin (pigment within the skin). Melanin acts like the body’s natural sunblock by absorbing and redistributing the energy from the UV rays. However, melanin can only do so much and if you’ve been over exposed to the sun, you’ll likely end up with a sunburn.
There are 2 different types of UV rays – UVA and UVB. UVA rays are 95% of the radiation that reaches Earth and are of equal intensity all day long. They also go into the deeper layers of the skin. UVA rays actually alter your DNA cells causing damage to collagen and elastin, which causes fine lines and wrinkles. UVB rays cause damage to the surface area of the skin and are “the skin cancer” rays. The intensity of these rays differs depending on the time of year, day, season, and area on the earth. Typically, UVB rays are more intense between 10am and 4pm in the spring and summer time, they don’t pass through glass but reflect – hitting the skin twice, causing more damage.
Sunburns are not only uncomfortable, but they lead to long lasting damage, including premature aging, sagging skin, sunspots, and wrinkles. Sunburns can range in severity from mild to severe. Mild sunburn usually only lasts up to 5 days. They are tender and red with a little bit of pain. Moderate sunburns can last up to 2 weeks. They are a bright red, hot to the touch, can be swollen, and even small blisters- this is more painful. Severe sunburns are red to purple in color, have large blisters and even have symptoms like chills and nausea. You should be seen by a doctor with this type of burn.
There are different stages of sunburn. Stage 1 (first 1-3 hours): the body has the fresh sun exposure and is increasing blood flow to those areas making the skin pink, maybe swollen, and warm. Stage 2 (first 24 hours): the full intensity of the sunburn takes place, and the skin continues to be red, painful, and uncomfortable. Stage 3 (3-14 days): the sunburn is healing; redness and pain start to decrease, and the skin starts to peel.
Anyone who’s had a sunburn knows it can be painful and the only way to avoid going through that again is prevention. It’s important to always apply a chemical or physical sunscreen when being exposed to the sun. Chemical sunscreens convert UV rays into heat before releasing them from the skin. While physical sunscreens create a barrier that blocks the rays before making contact to the skin. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”. SPF of 30 is advised by The Skin Cancer Foundation. Applying at least a teaspoon of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the skin will keep it protected. AND THEN, reapplying every 2 hours or more if swimming or sweating.
What to do if you get a sunburn
We all know that sunburn can happen by accident. Follow these steps to treat your sunburn:
- Cool down your skin. Try a cool bath/shower or a cool washcloth applied directly to the area. No soap!
- Soothe the skin. Apply moisturizing oils or lotions to the area. Rosemary, arnica, and rosehip are excellent ingredients for soothing. Avoid petroleum, which locks in heat.
- Drink plenty of water!
- Don’t pick! Picking will only make the burn feel worse. Allow those new skin cells to be created and let the skin shed on its own.
- Apply Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect from free radical damage.
At Sisters Salon & Day Spa, we have a variety of SPF and Vitamin C products to help you protect your skin from the sun or relieve a sunburn in case one occurs. Eminence Bright Skin Moisturizer, Tropical Vanilla Day Cream, Lilikoi Daily Defense Moisturizer, and Lilikoi Mineral Defense Sport Sunscreen, Image Daily Moisturizers, and VI Derm Mineral Sunscreen are great options to wear when going out in the sun. When a sunburn occurs, we recommend Eminence Citrus Wash, Lime Refreshing Tonique, Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum, VI Derm Vitamin C Brightening Concentrate, and Image Vital C products to reduce any uncomfortable side effects from your sunburn. If you have any questions, feel free to stop in and visit with any of our estheticians about what products to stay away from with a sunburn or what to use to for sunburn prevention!