home blog Science of Skincare: The Stages of a Sunburn

Science of Skincare: The Stages of a Sunburn

Summer fun: two words that belong together, right? Not if you’re suffering from the toxic effects of too much sun. A sunburn is uncomfortable, painful, itchy, and annoying. For many, it is embarrassing and ugly.

In short, a sunburn is not a funburn. This is because it is a very serious health event that actually damages DNA in your epidermis. The skin damage that occurs from UV exposure and a sunburn is similar to a burn you might receive from a hot stove or flame. 

Spending time outdoors and in the sun is definitely FUN! However, proper sun protection is critical to reduce the effects of Sun and UV exposure to the skin.  

Stage One: The Burn

You knew you were going to spend the day outside, or maybe you didn’t. In any case, you either forgot to apply enough sunscreen or didn’t apply any and now you are red. Very red.

As a result of the sun exposure, there actually is damage to the skin cells and DNA in the epidermal cells. With the excess heat and drying sunshine, the epidermis is in crisis and needs nourishment. The redness and warmth caused by a sunburn is actually a result of blood flow being directed to your skin’s surface. In order to deliver moisture and nutrients to the damaged skin, blood vessels dilate in the dermis, creating a bright red hue.

Some of the warmth comes from the absorption and conversion of UV rays to heat by the pigment molecules in the skin called melanin. The amount of melanin you have gives your skin its tone/color, and the more melanin you have the more natural protection you have against UV. But applying appropriate sunscreen is still critical to prevent sun damage.

The best things to do at this stage are to drink water (prevent dehydration and replenish moisture to the skin) and apply a cool compress or cool water to soothe the skin. Our Dermist M3HA Hyaluronic acid can also help to calm the skin and restore hyaluronic acid and moisture to the skin. 

Stage Two: Inflammation

After the actually burn occurs, the epidermis reacts to the damage by swelling. This process is called erythema. Because your body is increasing blood flow in order for healing, it causes affected areas to swell and become hot to the touch.

Depending on the extent of damage done to the DNA of your skin by the sun, inflammation may last a short amount of time or longer.

Because the skin has been damaged in a sunburn, the deeper layers of skin cells are more susceptible to UV damage. It is critical to be more diligent in applying sunscreens at this time and cover up with clothing to prevent more damage. Our H2 Diffusion cloud cream can help calm and moisturize the skin during this stage as well. 

Stage Three: Blister and Peel

Congratulations, you have reached the most attractive stage of the sunburn! In this stage, you will peel like an onion – only you are not an onion – you a person whose skin is peeling off.

Depending on the severity of the sunburn and your skin’s sensitivity, you may develop actually blistering with fluid. But, for most of us, this stage manifests as peeling.

Our skin is constantly regenerating and skin cells are replaced slowly. After a sunburn, the process of cell regeneration is accelerated. To compensate for the damage, the upper layers of the dermis create new cells called keratinocytes in the most base level. As the new cells are formed, the superficial epidermal cells (top layer) start to shed and are replaced.

Because the process is accelerated, the keratinocytes do not have time to separate and flake away as they normally do. Instead, they stick together and peel away. Our gentle Dermist Cleanser or Natural AZA Cleanser can help remove these dead skin cells and help restore moisture to the skin surface.

Stage Four: Never Again

Even one severe sunburn in your life can increase your risk for skin cancer! Protect yourself and your skin by wearing protective clothing, sunscreen, and moisturize after you’ve been out in the sun! According to the American Cancer Society, UV rays are strongest between 10am to 4pm, and can even be present on cloudy days! Be aware of the effects of sun on your skin health!

Hale Cosmeceuticals can help you recover from your sunburn with a full range of skincare products. Our products have been formulated by physicians and scientists, and we pride ourselves on the SCIENCE and RESULTS! Our products have been used, trusted, and recommended by Skincare professionals for over 30 years! We are your Skin HEALTH company. Contact us today to learn more!

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