Protecting the skin from photodamage is the single most important measure an esthetician can emphasize in order to help prevent skin cancer and slow down the aging process in clients. To use sunscreens effectively requires a basic understanding of light energy, how light interacts with skin, and how to select and use sunscreens. Don’t panic, throw up your hands and run screaming because these concepts are quite simple and enjoyable to learn, and you will use them for the rest of your professional life in a variety of situations, from sunbathing to using laser equipment.
The basic physics of light
Many children have asked parents, “What is light?” only to receive the answer, “It is just light,” or “Nobody really knows.” In most cases, the child stopped there and waited for someone to come along and provide a better answer. At present, people are still in the dark when it comes to understanding light. Keeping that thought in mind, take a look at what is known about it, and don’t worry, because when all of this has been explained, you will understand a lot more about the physics of light and will be able see a small bit of the incredible beauty of the universe.
Light is energy. Light can be made only by using some form of energy to produce it. The sun is the major source of light during the day, and electricity is the major source at night, since moonlight is reflected sunlight. So, how is light actually made? Photons need to be produced. You may ask, “What in the world are photons?” A photon is the minimum bundle or capsule of energy needed to sustain the electromagnetic phenomenon at a particular frequency. Because a photon is a small packet of pure energy, it’s a tiny, tiny particle. Light is made up of these photon packets, and there are gazillions of them in a single ray of light.