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A cautious friendship

Help spa clientele maintain a positive relationship with the sun this summer

The sun makes all life possible. Without it the planet would be a frozen, uninhabitable sphere blasting through space at more than 60,000 miles per hour. According to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Earth Observatory, the sun’s energy generates clouds, cleanses our water, produces plants, keeps the climate stable, and drives ocean currents and thunderstorms. Yet for all its good, the sun can also be a remorseless destroyer. Ultraviolet radiation produced by the sun is damaging to the skin. It suppresses the skin’s immune system and can cause cold sores to reactivate, according to Dr. Benjamin Barankin, dermatologist and medical director of the Toronto Dermatology Centre. “It can also cause pre-cancers and skin cancers to develop years following exposure,” says Barankin. The challenge is to strike a balance between proper sun exposure and overindulgence. The spa can be both a source of education and a station of reprieve for sun-loving Canadians, providing the products, treatments, and information people need to enjoy the sun while avoiding its ill effects.


“In the summer, the worst thing by far a person can do to their skin is get a burn,” says Barankin. According to Environment Canada, more than one in seven Canadians will develop a form of skin cancer during his or her lifetime. But fear of sunburn shouldn’t keep people out of the sun entirely. A number of studies, including research from the Harvard Medical School, indicate sun exposure is beneficial to human health. Vitamin D, a vitamin many Canadians are woefully lacking, comes from sun exposure and aids in bone density.

“Tans are actually protective and as long as you don’t go outside and burn, you’re quite okay in the sun,” says Dr. Jason Rivers, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of British Columbia and regional director of the Canadian Dermatology Association’s National Sun Awareness and Skin Cancer Prevention Program.

To ensure clients tan rather than burn, dermatologists recommend spas stock sunscreens no lower than SPF 30. “Advise clients to reapply sunscreen often, at least every three hours,” says Barankin.

If a client works outdoors, or likes to tan between the hours of 10am and 2pm, they need to protect the skin more vigorously, as this four-hour window is the most dangerous for UV exposure.

“Sport sunscreens are designed to resist sweat and water exposure, so they don’t run as easily,” says Rivers, adding they are therefore particularly useful for facial application.

Sunscreens with ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide are excellent, as are those containing Parsol 1789 or Avobenzone and Mexoryl, according to Barankin.


Following a burn, the spa can offer services and advice to ease the pain and help clients recover. “Cool compresses are soothing following a sunburn,” says Rivers. Clients should be reminded to stay out of the sun and pick up an anti inflammatory like ibuprofen. Topical steroids, like hydrocortisone, can help ease inflammation and pain. A dermatologist should be consulted to determine whether a topical steroid is appropriate. To help recover and sooth burns, the spa can offer products containing retinol, green tea, and glycolic acid. An often untapped source of revenue in the spa can be summer clothing. “Clothes and hats will always be superior to sunscreen,” says Barankin. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and baggy, lightweight tops can provide clients protection from the sun, helping speed recovery and avoid further burns.

A golden tan looks nice, but may not be worth the risk of burning. Help protect your spa clientele by offering everything they need to enjoy the sun and stay safe.

Help clients protect their skin by offering products with sun protection or skin-restoring ingredients.

Correctionist Nighttime Restoration Treatment A deep-penetrating night treatment for face and neck that firms, lifts, and hydrates while stimulating cellular renewal and protecting skin against the day’s environmental stress.

Obagi Professional-C Serum Prevent premature signs of aging and protect against environmental damage with this vitamin C rich serum. vitamin C neutralizes free radicals to prevent skin cell damage.

Murad Essential-C Daily Renewal Complex The anti-aging effects of vitamin C are amplified by Murad’s patented skin repair system to improve skin elasticity, stimulate collagen synthesis, improve skin clarity, and provide powerful antioxidant protection.

Elta MD Skincare, UV Clear SPF 46 SPF 46 with nine per cent micronized zinc oxide and high-purity vitamin B3, the lightweight formula calms and protects acne prone skin.

Yon-ka Vital Defense Vital Defense is an age-prevention, anti-pollution, antioxidant daytime moisturizer in a lightweight, fast absorbing formula that’s perfect under makeup.

Kerstin Florian Spa Sun Aloe Gel This fast-absorbing after-sun therapy with algae and aloe vera leaves the skin feeling soft and hydrated.

Mary Cohr Mineral Defense SPF 30 Sun Protection Cream The highest level of protection available from Mary Cohr effectively protects the skin during sun exposure and fights against the harmful effects of UV rays.

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