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After Sun Preparations & Skin Care after Sun Exposure

    Svetlya Anukudinova

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    After-Sun Preparations, otherwise known as sunburn preparations, are used to hydrate the skin and soothe irritated, red, burnt skin. Even if no sunburn occurs, after exposure to UV radiation, the skin needs care, including soothing, smoothing, and moisturizing.

    Although tanning is believed to be healthy by many, any degree of tanning is a sign of skin damage, even without reddening. Sunburn is an acute inflammatory skin reaction to excessive exposure to UV radiation, which can come from a variety of sources, including sun, tanning beds, and phototherapy lamps. 

    Sunburn is generally classified as a superficial or a first-degree burn. It can cause various signs and symptoms, such as tenderness, mild pain upon touch, itching, and redness, which may be followed by scaling. More severe burns at an early age increase the risk for melanoma and other types of skin cancers later in life.

    Interesting Facts
    In 1988, as few as 1% of American adults reported using indoor tanning facilities; by 2007, that number had increased to 27%. At the same time, many tanning devices employed more powerful UV lamps. When combined, these results indicate a potential public health issue with tens of millions of individuals putting themselves at increased risk of developing skin cancer in the years ahead.

    Skin Care after Sun Exposure
    As a first step in treating sun-affected skin, it is usual to clean the skin with water and mild cleansers to remove any remaining product, sweat, and dirt. Thereafter, hydration therapy can take place. Vitalization and hydration of the skin are very important after sun exposure to help the skin maintain or restore its healthy status.

    Most after-sun formulations are O/W emulsions (such as lotions, creams, and sprays) and get containing moisturizers as well as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants. Gels have the advantage of an immediate cooling effect due to their high water content. The main functional ingredients in sunburn preparations are summarized below;

    • Soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients help alleviate pain, redness and burning. Examples include azulene and bisabolol (from chamomile), allantoin, aloe extract, and panthenol. Witch hazel is an astringent and anti-inflammatory agent that is commonly used.
    • Cooling agents such as menthol, eucalyptus, and alcohol provide an immediate short cold sensation. They soothe and alleviate the warm sensation and tenseness of sun-irritated skin, at least for a short period.
    • Antioxidants help replenish the depleted antioxidant pool and/or boost the antioxidant defenses of the horny layer. For example Vitamin E, Vitamin A, green tea extract, and pomegranate extract, among other natural ingredients.
    • Moisturizers help replace the water lost during sun exposure to improve elasticity and dryness by maintaining moisture levels. The use of suitable moisturizing agents also prevents, or at least postpones, the unsightly features of skin flaking and peeling. Primary ingredient types used include humectants and emollients.

    The formulation should follow the general routine of the conventional formulation of emulsions and gels.

    Typical Quality Problems of Sun Care Products
    The typical quality-related issues of sunscreens and after-sun products include;

    • Valve Clogging
    • Separation of the Emulsions
    • Microbiological Contamination
    • Clumping, and
    • Rancidification