We know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun’s UV rays. We know the risks of skin cancer increase as our exposure to the sun increases.
But how to know how much sun is okay or when you should reapply sunscreen or get out of the sun altogether? In the past, this might have been a guessing game or one of maintaining routine: reapply sunscreen every two hours, wear lightweight clothing to cover your skin or skip the beach. Today, however, there are a number of gadgets and apps to help you better understand and manage sun exposure. Wearable protection Netatmo June - This bracelet (although it can also be worn as a pendant), works with an iPhone app to let you know the current UV index and will send you reminders to reapply sunscreen based on your skin type (you input this information) and the UV index. The bracelet is stylish and no one needs to know it is a UV sensor. Right now it is only compatible with Apple devices.
UVSunSense - Color changing wristbands alert you when it is time to reapply sunscreen. Once you put the lightweight wristband on, you apply your sunscreen, applying directly to the wristband as well. When exposed to the sun, the wristband turns purple and as your sunscreen becomes less effective, the color fades. When it turns lavender, it’s time to reapply. Lighter colors indicate it’s time to get out of the sun. The bands are available on Amazon and come in a pack of seven. It is meant for one-day use and can be worn in the water. Mary Clarke from Good Housekeeping Magazine says, “I think this product is a great help for getting in the habit of regularly reapplying sunscreen and can be a safeguard in case you’ve forgotten to reapply.”
SunFriend Personal UV Monitor - This plastic wristband measures your UV exposure based on a number of variables that are customized to your skin color. There are 11 LEDs on the band and when all 11 light up, it’s time to use sun protection, reapply sunscreen or get out of the sun. Once you reapply sunscreen you can reset the band to start over. You can also check the current UV levels to find out the sun’s intensity. The band is waterproof and can be used every day.
UV monitoring apps
Understanding the current UV levels can help you learn to better protect your skin. There are a number of smart phone apps that can give you the current UV intensity levels.
Ultraviolet UV Index gives you the current UV index for your area and provides sun safety tips. (Available for iOS)
Wolfram Sun Exposure Reference App is a comprehensive app that takes your skin type, your sun screen and the UV forecast to predict how long you can safely stay in the sun. (Available for iOS)
- EPA Sunwise UV Index - From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this app provides location-based UV index information with hourly color-coded forecasts to help you plan your outdoor time. (Available for iOS and Android)
While these gadgets don’t prevent sunburn or skin cancer, they do give you the ability to better understand your UV exposure. For example, you might not consider UV exposure while sitting at an outdoor cafe for lunch or taking a quick walk. But every moment outside exposes you to UV rays. Gadgets help track your UV exposure and remind you to pay attention to sun protection. For more information on protecting your skin from skin cancer:
Choosing the Best Sunscreen
How to Talk to Teens About Skin Cancer Prevention
Ten Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer
Why Do You Need Sunscreen on a Cloudy Day?
Four Foods Which May Protect Against Skin Cancer
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of Idiot's Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot's Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love and Essential Guide to Asperger's Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbaileyand on Facebook at eileenmbailey.