Safe exposure to the sun is vital to help the body make vitamin D, but research shows that excessive UV exposure is the reason behind 80% of skin ageing. Today, it is universally accepted that the cumulative effects of sun exposure lead to premature wrinkles, age spots and can cause skin cancer.
As a cosmetic practitioner, the chances are you see the effects of sun damage on a day-to-day basis and many of your patients will be seeking to counter the damaging effects of the sun with a cosmetic treatment. Sun damage is among the most common reasons why patients opt for laser resurfacing treatment.
You will be used to advising your patients on their aftercare following a procedure and this will of course vary depending on which cosmetic procedure a patient has undergone. At this time of year it is also particularly important to make sure that patients understand the extra precautions they should take to minimise sun damage following a treatment and to reduce the risks of future sun damage
As aesthetic practitioners, how can you best advise your patients to stay safe whilst in the sun and particularly after undergoing an aesthetic treatment?
The most important thing you can do is to educate your patients. They should be aware that, of the UV rays emitted from the sun, UVA and UVB rays are the ones which penetrate the atmosphere. 95% of the damage to skin is from the UVA rays and these can penetrate through both clouds and glass. These rays are also present throughout the year during daylight hours, although we may be more aware of them during the summer months. Prevention is better than cure so take the time to educate your patients to be safe in the sun and limit the damage in the first place.
Chris Gill, Managing Director at multi-award-winning skin clinic Good Skin Days adds: ”As a specialist skin clinic we would always strongly recommend that a high quality broad spectrum SPF is worn every day to ensure protection of the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Most of our patients do not realise the importance of protecting their skin not only in summer but also throughout the winter months, as UVA rays are present every day of the year. We recommend our bestselling product Heliocare SPF50 Gel for daily use.”
Next, it is important that you advise your patients at the outset as to the contraindications for the particular treatment they are considering undergoing. For example, since the photosensitive new skin that grows following some aesthetic treatments such as laser treatment can be easily damaged by sun exposure, patients undergoing laser resurfacing need to be aware of this before they undertake the treatment. Severely photo-damaged skin can have a higher incidence of actinic keratosis and skin cancers as well as being more susceptible to pigmentation. It is up to the practitioner to ensure that patients are aware of the dangers and allow the recommended time following a treatment before they expose their skin to the sun.
Here are some more useful tips to help advise patients to stay safe in the sun:
- Incorporate the topic of sun protection into every patient’s initial consultation. Include the importance of using a good quality sunblock and remind them that the UVA rays, the ones which cause most damage, are present all year round and can pass through windows and clouds.
- Inform your patients of the best ways in which they can prepare their skin in advance of the summer months when they are likely to spend more time outside. A sensible guide is to avoid chemical peels and products containing acetic acid and retinoid for around three months before major sun exposure. Keep exfoliating and take care to hydrate the skin.
- Make sure that patients are aware that some ingredients can increase skin sensitivity and are therefore best avoided in the summertime. These include acetic acid and retinoids. Focus instead on hydrating products.
- The initial consultation is also a good time to analyse the current state of the skin to establish which treatments will be most beneficial and to make sure that when recommending a treatment you cover after-care information relating to sun exposure
- Reiterate the standard advise to your patients about how they can minimise future sun damage by using a good quality sunscreen (minimum SPF30) that counters both UVA and UVB rays, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and staying out of the sun where possible and particularly when it is at its strongest from 11am – 3pm.