Balsam Alabassi and Lorna Bowes explain how sunscreen works to protect skin from UV radiation
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the differences between UVA and UVB radiation and the varying effects that environmental factors such as UV and pollution have on the skin. Aesthetic practitioners need to ensure that they are giving their patients the right information and advice on sun and skin protection. When discussing sun protection as it relates to aesthetic practice, there are a number of different topics that need to be covered: what is ultraviolet radiation and what effect does it have on the skin; what skin conditions can be exacerbated by exposure to UV rays (a subject not covered in this article); what ingredients can provide adequate protection from the sun; ingredients that are also photoprotective; and what amount of sunscreen should be applied and how frequently.
The vitamin D debate
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming an increasing problem, as we become more aware of the risks of exposure to the sun. In a 2008 study, Holick showed that sunlight is the main source of vitamin D for humans, as it is very difficult to derive adequate vitamin D from food, and we rely on UVB photons to synthesise vitamin D3.22 Sadly, the use of sunscreens does have a negative impact on vitamin D3 synthesis, and it is important to be aware of the importance of vitamin D when advising patients on sun protection. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with rickets, growth retardation and osteoporosis, as well as increasing the risk of certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.2 To avoid this, it may be advisable to recommend that patients take a daily supplement of vitamin D.
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