SPF 30, check. Shades, check. Hat, check. But what about a UV-detecting wristband, skin patch or clip-on? When you think about protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, we admit that wearable tech probably isn't the first thing that springs to mind.
But the latest weapons in the sun care armoury are poised to hit the big time, and may end up becoming as essential as sunscreen in the fight against sunburn, wrinkles and skin cancer.
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Knowing when to dodge the sun's harmful rays is key. The short term effects of overdoing it, which include sunburn and sun allergy, are bad enough. But these pale in comparison with the long-term consequences. According to the World Health Organisation, cases of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers have been increasing over the past few decades. Now, one in three diagnoses of cancer is a skin cancer. The main culprit? Damaging UV rays.
Enter, then, the latest UV trackers and wearables. These wonder devices detect the sun's rays and warn you if you need to slap on more sunscreen, cover up or seek shade. Here are the top wearables that can keep you safe in the sun, with some available to buy right now and some on the way.
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L'Oréal UV Sense
After launching its My UV Patch for the entire family last year, the UV Sense shrinks the same tech into a battery-free electronic wearable sensor that you wear on your thumbnail.
Worn on the nail for up to two weeks, it measures your individual UV data and then stores it in your phone on its companion app (iOS and Android) for up to three months, so you can see long-term exposure trends. The app will show you your exposure trends over the long term and will give you tips and tricks. So it can tell you when to re-apply sunscreen or when to look for some shade.
After those two weeks, you can reapply the UV Sense with additional adhesives, which come in the box. L'Oréal apparently picked the thumbnail as the best position because it is a good place for sunlight that also ensures longer wear, which makes sense. Your skin wrinkles and moves, which can loosen things like skin patches. Your fingernail doesn't do that.
L'Oréal is going to carry out a pilot study in the US with the Sense with a view of a full release in 2019. The original My UV Patch along with a Yves Behar-designed limited edition version will be available through through L'Oréal's website this summer.
Looking a lot like a Misfit Shine 2, the clip-on QSun is able to detect UV exposure using its five LED display to indicate UV index. Once you give it a shake, it'll let you know your UV index. That's your measurement of how powerful ultraviolet radiation beaming from the sun is.
The iOS and Android-friendly wearable keeps track of how long you have been out in the sun before you start to burn. When your time is up, it'll vibrate to let you know that you should go get in the shade. The QSun's AI takes skin type into consideration as well, to help determine the time that should be spent out in the sun. If you apply some sunscreen, two shakes on the wearable will let it know and it'll take that into consideration while you're catching some rays.
The QSun can also pull in step count data from Apple Health and Google Fit to let you know how much of your daily activity was spent in safe UV exposure. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, this dinky little wearable is now available to buy, so head to the QSun website if you like the sound of it.
This disc-shaped device is packed with sensors that are able to measure UVA and UVB rays and is even sensitive enough to do that with indoor light. The iOS and Android compatible wearable uses a magnetic clasp so you can wear it on pretty much any piece of clothing and it'll keep you protected for five days before you need to power it up.
According to the team behind Shade, the sensor has been validated to be as sensitive as lab equipment, giving you a vibrating buzz when you are nearing your UV limit. It'll also take into consideration when you've slapped on some sunscreen. If you care about UV exposure in all environments, this may be the wearable for you.
The small Rooti CliMateclip-on may be your cup of tea if you don't like the idea of wearing a wristband. Not just a UV tracker, the device also detects temperature and humidity.
The sensor does have to be facing the sun to get an accurate reading, but it can be clipped onto clothing on any part of the body. The data is wirelessly synced to the CliMate app, which provides recommendations based on the wearer's precise Fitzpatrick skin type and the SPF level of any sunscreen applied.
CliMate will also let you know if there's a heatwave or thunderstorm on the way – it analyses user-generated cloud data to forecast weather conditions. The device is available now for just $19.99.
Now for something a bit different. If you like your wearables invisible, LogicInk will keep you safe in the sun with its Logic UV temporary tattoo.
How does it work? Well you stick the tat to your skin and keep an eye on its two rings throughout the day. There's no phone or smartwatch involved, simply keep your eyes on the tattoos. The smaller, inner ring tells you how harsh the sun is by changing from white to purple. The outer, larger ring will turn bright pink from purple when you're getting close to actually burning your skin.
These limits are determined by medical research on minimal erythemal dose, which is a super fancy and scientific way of saying how much UV radiation will cause a skin rash or burn. This number is different for people based on skin tones, and LogicInk says the alerts will be customised for skin tones.
It's available to buy now in packs of 2 or 20. You can find out what we thought of the UV sensing tattoo when we had fun in the sun with the Logic UV.
Prices start from $5, logicink.com