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Damage limitation

A skin analysis can determine the best sun protection to use – could your clients benefit?

Most of us enjoy the summer months, with the warm sunny weather that hopefully comes with them. At the same time we need to ensure that our skin is protected from damage and is able to protect the rest of the body from the damage that UV can do. There are three types of UV; UVA, UVB and UVC. Each one represents a hazard to us and our skin.

UVC will burn quickly, but is usually stopped by the ozone layer so most of us are not exposed to UVC. It is created in tasks such as arc welding where safety equipment is worn to protect from the damage it can do.

UVB is the primary cause of sunburn and can cause skin cancer. At the same time UVB triggers production of vitamin D. In fact, the skin is a major source of vitamin D for the body. Those with darker skin living in the UK where the UV intensity is less, need to be aware that their skin may not get enough UVB to produce enough vitamin D. UVB also triggers production of melanin.

Melanin is the brown pigment that protects the skin and underlying tissues from the harm that UV can cause. Melanin is the pigment that gives us our tan. The more we are exposed to UVB, the more melanin our skin will produce. The melanin will be pushed into the cells in the lower part of the epidermis. These cells then migrate outwards with new cells, containing more melanin, being formed behind them. The renewal rate of the epidermis is 4-6 weeks so this is the length of time it takes to build a UVB tan, and also the length of time it will take to disappear when we cease to be exposed to the same levels of UVB intensity.

UVA can cause skin cancer. It damages the elastin and collagen fibres of the dermis, these are the components of the skin that give it the strength, elasticity and flexibility; the things that keep us looking young. UVA is one of the primary factors in skin ageing. UVA inhibits the immune system.

For many, their skin problems are somewhat better in the summer months when the UVA light intensity is greater. Exposure to UVA will cause a redistribution of melanin so that there is the appearance of a tan. This is without there being any increase in melanin production with the associated increase in protection form harmful UV rays. This tan will occur quickly but also disappear quickly.

The importance of wearing the appropriate skin protection cannot be emphasised enough. One way of emphasising this to clients and ensuring that they take sun exposure seriously is by using skin measurements to understand the natural sun protection an individual has, and the sun protection factor they need.

Sun protection factors are a multiplication of natural sun protection so the amount of time we would like to be in the sun will affect the sun protection factor we chose. Those with very pale Celtic phototypes may have as little as 2-4 minutes of natural sun protection (the time before damage starts to the elastin and collagen) and will need a high factor for any significant length of time in the sun.

EnviroDerm Services offer a number of different options where you make measurements of your clients skin colour and the device or software calculates the sun protection factor they require. This is based on their skin type and the intensity of sun exposure they are likely to be exposed to.

For further information, email, call 01386 832 311, or visit