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A Deeper Look at Sun Damage

March 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
A Deeper Look at Sun Damage

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The one aspect of the esthetic industry that will never change is the fact that everyone’s skin ages. There will always be a need for the correction of the visible signs of aging and, although there are now numerous treatment options available, the first step in treating any skin concern is determining what is happening within the dermis and epidermis that is causing the symptoms. It is well known that ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the No. 1 cause of visible aging, hence the popular term “sun damage.” By identifying the breakdown that occurs when the skin is exposed to the sun’s damaging rays and which ingredients can be used to limit or repair this breakdown, more deliberate treatment and product choices can be made.

Understanding sun-driven changes

External factors, such as sunlight, are responsible for many of the visible changes that take place in the skin. Although some minor alterations would occur regardless of a client’s amount of sun exposure, research indicates that up to 85% of visible aging is due to external factors.1 Client complaints regarding this damage are plentiful, and developing an understanding of how and when these changes take place will assist greatly in treatment. The following are among the most common presentations of cutaneous sun damage.

Deep wrinkling. This is not associated with the normal—or intrinsic—aging process; fine lines are normal, deep wrinkles are not. The sun’s UVA rays penetrate deeply into the dermis and cause the breakdown, disorganization and cross-linking of collagen. Cross-linking refers to what occurs when collagen fibers break down and fuse back together in a crisscross pattern. This process leads to reduced support and structure and, in the end, deep wrinkling. In addition, collagen and elastin breakdown is accelerated by an overproduction of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes. Important MMP include collagenase and elastase, which break down collagen and elastin, respectively. Studies have found that MMP are increased within minutes of UV exposure, making any time spent outdoors potentially destructive to the skin.2

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Ingredients That Address Sun Damage

 

Ingredient

Mechanism of action

Presentation(s) treated

Preventive

Corrective

Sunscreen agents

• Reflect or absorb UV radiation

•Wrinkling

•Coarsening

•Dehydration • Hyperpigmentation

X

X

Retinoids (retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, retinol, retinyl palmitate, etc.)

• Increase fibroblast and collagen production

• Encourage proliferation of elastin and hyaluronic acid

• Induce desquamation and increased cell turnover

• Decrease collagenase and elastase levels (MMPi)

• Antioxidant

• Inhibits melanogenesis

• Wrinkling

• Coarsening

• Dehydration

• Hyperpigmentation

X

X

L-ascorbic acid

• Stabilizes collagen

• Increases fibroblast and collagen production

• Reduces collagenase synthesis (MMPi)

• Antioxidant

• Reduces post-inflammatory and UV-induced erythema

• Inhibits melanogenesis

• Wrinkling

• Dehydration

• Hyperpigmentation

X

X

Polyphenols (resveratrol, EGCG, soy isoflavones)

Prevent and reverse free radical damage

Reduce inflammation

Protect against DNA damage (skin cancer)

• Wrinkling

• Coarsening

• Dehydration

• Hyperpigmentation

X

 

Peptides

• Multiple options, but many stimulate collagen production

• Wrinkling

 

X

   

 

   

Melanogenesis inhibitors (hydroquinone, kojic acid, lactic acid, azelaic acid, licorice extract, etc.)

• Inhibit the pigment-producing process at various points

• Hyperpigmentation

X

X

Humectants (glycerin, urea, hyaluronic acid, etc.)

• Attract water moisture from the dermis into the epidermis

• Dehydration

X

X

Occlusives (dimethicone, shea butter, niacinamide, various oils)

• Seal in water moisture

• Dehydration

X

X

Matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors (MMPi) (vitamin E, beta-carotene, aloe vera)

• Inhibit the overproduction of MMP enzymes

• Wrinkling

• Coarsening

• Dehydration

• Hyperpigmentation

X

X

Dehydration

Dehydration

Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation

Retail Tips: A Deeper Look at Sun Damage

The following suggestions allow you to use the information learned in this article to help improve retail sales of your sun care products.

  • Position sunscreen as an anti-aging product rather than a sun protection product.
  • Explain that it took a significant amount of time for the client’s damage to accumulate, and it will take time for it to be reversed, although improvement will occur quickly.
  • Educate clients about all of the different visible signs of aging, and explain why multiple products and ingredients are necessary for optimal results.
  • Sell pre-packaged kits that contain all of the recommended products, along with a protocol. This ease of use will significantly increase compliance and re-purchases.
  • Have before-and-after photos available in multiple areas of the spa. These are incredible marketing tools that allow clients to see what is possible with proper treatment. The photos should have the amount of time it took to achieve the results, as well as complete treatment and at-home product information, making it clear that both the treatments and the retail products are available at your spa.

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