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Electrologists as Educators: Sun Exposure Risks

Electrologists Understand How to Maintain Healthy Skin

As hair growth experts, electrologists are also knowledgeable about skin. Due to extensive observation of their clients' skin as well as from various continuing education courses offered, electrologists have a deep understanding of both positive and negative influences that affect both the surface and the dermis of a client’s skin. For example, sun exposure immediately following electrolysis can cause problems for skin healing. And while sun exposure is necessary for vitamin D production, extensive exposure can cause dramatic damage, scarring and even cancer. 

Armed with the knowledge of how to maintain healthy skin, electrologists are in a position to educate clients about sun exposure risks. There are three considerations to guide the information you share with your clients. First, keep reminding them of the potential risks of too much sun exposure- in this case, repetition is a good thing. Second, encourage proper pre- and post-care skin care. This includes recommending products that work well with electrolysis treatments to achieve optimal cleansing, moisturizing and robust daily sun protection. Finally, remember that educating clients isn’t just about stating the information. There are a variety of methods for sharing information with clients both before, during and after the electrolysis session.

Sun-related Skin Exposure Facts

Conversations and advice about skin cancer and sun exposure are easy to find these days. People generally understand the risks and advice regarding proper skin protection, but as we all have experienced, knowing what we should do is often different from what we actually do in our daily practice. This gap between knowledge and action is where the electrologists’ expertise can be impactful.

Let’s start with some facts* about sun-related skin exposure risk.

  • People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.
  • One study found that when used as directed, regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent.
  • Sun damage is cumulative. Only about 23 percent of lifetime exposure occurs by age 18.
  • Only 20 to 30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.
  • On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns.
  • Among people with melanin-rich skin, skin cancer represents approximately 2 to 4 percent of all cancers in Asians, 4 to 5 percent of all cancers in Hispanics, and 1 to 2 percent of all cancers in Black people.
  • Melanomas in Black people, Asians and native Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin that contains less pigment: up to 60 to 75 percent of tumors occur on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions. 

In addition to the dangers of sun exposure, electrologists should make clients aware of the dangers of tanning beds as well.*

  • Ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices were reclassified by the FDA from Class I (low risk) to Class II (moderate to high risk) devices as of September 2, 2014.
  • Indoor tanning devices can emit UV radiation in amounts 10 to 15 times higher than the sun at its peak intensity.
  • More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning.

Sharing this information with clients helps them make educated decisions about how to care for their skin outside of the clinic. 

Communicating Sun Care to Clients

Due to the education they receive during initial training and continuing education courses, electrologists are in a position to advise their clients on habits that can both protect their skin and enhance its appearance and health. Clients generally have a high level of trust in their electrologist (otherwise they wouldn’t let one near their skin!), and skin care advice and post-care recommendations are more likely to be followed. 

Electrologists frequently converse with clients on a range of subjects during a treatment, and if they observe something notable (e.g., dry skin, skin discoloration due to sun damage, irregularly shaped moles), there is an opportunity to discuss sun exposure, sunscreen use, and even pursuing dermatologic care if it is indicated.

Depending on the electrologist’s style and comfort level, several strategies can be used when considering how to best share this information with clients. For example, a poster of not-so-fun facts about sun damage and its effects can be posted in the waiting area or treatment room. Take-aways like brochures or fact sheets can be included when sharing intake paperwork or placed in the office where clients can read them or take them home. A discussion of sunscreen application and how to source high-quality sunscreen can be included when reviewing pre- and post-treatment skin care protocols. In fact, this is an ideal time to inquire about current practices and gently encourage daily sunscreen application in concert with any additional care that is indicated. Further, when advising a client with darker or melanin-rich skin (MRS), being knowledgeable about the many misconceptions about skin cancer for individuals with MRS is critical since the sun protection needs for these clients is likely to differ from lighter-skinned clients.

Finally, sharing pertinent information about skin health highlights the electrologist’s role as an Allied Health Professional and demonstrates to the client that the electrologist cares about their well-being.

Education is Key

Clients can best learn how to properly care for their skin both before electrolysis and after treatments from an electrologist who is knowledgeable about how to manage skincare over the course of their treatments. For any number of reasons, many clients ignore advice shared with them about protecting their skin from sun damage. Perhaps this is due in part to the fact that the consequences of today’s sun damage may not become evident for years or even decades.

However, for those who do listen and make needed changes to their sun protection regimens, the electrologist will likely enjoy easier insertions during treatment and greater satisfaction from clients who notice their more hydrated, healthier skin.  And for all clients, discussions about their skin health and general well-being demonstrates that the electrologist is knowledgeable, a source of expertise, and has their best interests at heart. 

*Source: The Skin Cancer Foundation,


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