Although summer in San Francisco is not known for its sunshine, I was fortunate enough to disappear with my family to a warm destination for a few days. My daughter was delighted to explore tide pools and create entire worlds out of sand, and I loved nothing more than watching her and my husband play together.
Because I have learned so much about how much damage the sun can do to delicate skin, I am more of an onlooker on these trips, most often found in the shade, protected by a hat the size of an umbrella. I’m always careful to slather Eric and Alea in sunscreen, but sometimes the California sun, high altitude and reflective water are no match for us. After one afternoon of fun in the sun, my heart sank when I saw Eric's face turning as red as a freshly-cooked lobster.
A sunburn is much more than discomfort. After only 30 minutes in the sun, Ultraviolet A (UVA) or Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can affect the skin. The skin’s molecules suffer damage, leading to inflammation and destruction of cells. Some damage may escape repair, which can eventually lead to mutated DNA. Our melanocytes, the factories that create pigmentation to protect us from the sun, can also be impaired, causing hyperpigmentation, also known as sun spots. Even after the redness fades, the injury remains. Damaged DNA can stay in the deep layers of the skin, causing more harm with repeated sunburns.
Although I’m not quite ready to don a full face mask like these ladies, I wanted to share some easy steps everyone can take to prevent and soothe a sunburn. We try to stay in the shade as much as possible – I am known for zig-zagging across the street to avoid the sun and keep a paper parasol at my desk if I'm going more than a few blocks – but that isn’t always practical while on a family vacation. Because Alea loves the water so much, Eric and I are careful to reapply sunscreen often and thoroughly, every 90 minutes, and she is already learning to love big sunhats as much as I do.
In this case, though, Eric was already showing the signs of skin damage. After taking a cold shower to lower his body temperature, I applied our Deep Hydration Lifting Mask to his face -- the first time he has tried one!
The gel-like fibers of the mask were developed as a way to treat serious burn victims and because it has the ability to absorb many times its weight in liquid. It also adheres more closely to the skin so more of the treatment serum can be absorbed directly by the skin.
I was fairly certain the mask would help because the serum is rich in red algae, which has proven healing and repairative benefits, and concentrated green tea extracts known for their powerful antioxidant properties. But even I was surprised at how effective it was, and Eric appreciated that it helped ease the sting (especially since I had put it in the refriegerator for about 30 minutes before applying).
With his redness gone, we were even able to head out for dinner (where I insisted he drink several glasses of water to combat dehydration from the sunburn). While I wish he could have avoided the damage to begin with, I was so grateful to have see the mask's intensive benefits in action. He's promised to consider wearing a visor or cap on future outings, and I've promised to keep looking out for the kind of ingredients that we can all benefit from -- without a sunburn.
Chief Treasure Hunter