Aside from sunscreen, what other tools could pharmacists recommend for patients to limit their sun exposure?
L'Oreal, a company known for its skin care products, recently announced a new product that incorporates a unique wearable sensor to help people be more aware of their sun exposure throughout the day.1 Recognizing that UV light can lead to photoaging, skin damage, and possible skin cancer, giving people a tool to understand their risk of exposure throughout the day can help them take steps to avoid prolonged sunlight levels or take steps to protect themselves.
The sensor (UV Sense) created by L'Oreal is rather unique compared to others on the market; namely, it is more malleable and can be attached to different surfaces. UV Sense is smaller than a dime and could fit on the back of a person's nail. L'Oreal recommends that the sensor is attached in a place that will have sunlight exposure, including the hands (on a fingernail or a watch), or face (on sunglasses), etc.2 It will come with extra adhesives or a clip.
The sensor is unusual in that it can detect sun exposure and will change colors depending on significance (like a mood ring), and can be paired to an app on a smartphone to get more detail. This includes tracking the amount of sunlight exposure in time, along with regional information, such as pollen or air quality collected from other resources. It will then give the user a score to quantify how much risk the user is at, based off an initial questionnaire, such as skin tones, and what I presume includes other health-related questions.
So what's in it for L'Oreal? I suppose it will be another opportunity to do direct advertisement to consumers. Since the app will collect relevant data and health information, I would posit it could, in turn, recommend specific products and services. This could include different types of sunscreen, skin care products, and other companies' products that partner to use UV Sense. It's rather ingenious in many ways and is where most wearable devices are headed. I wouldn't be surprised if we see similar technology coming out in the near future whereby users see a piece of technology they could use, buy it for a limited cost (or even bundled) and then the company has another means of directed consumer advertisement that is more personal than just sending emails or information via social media.
So where does this leave pharmacists? I think it's a cool piece of technology to recommend to patients who are a bit tech savvy. Maybe patients who are inquisitive about sunscreen or other skin protectants could benefit from its use. But, one area that I think would be fascinating, from a medical standpoint, would be the combination of this product with medications we know increase photosensitivity. I mean, this could be useful for such patients who do have increased sunburns and could be a device to help monitor and intervene for themselves to reduce such a side effect.
1. L’Oreal debuts first-ever stretchable electronic UV monitor at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show [news release]. L'Oreal; January 6, 2016. www.loreal.com/media/press-releases/2016/jan/loreal-debuts-first-ever-stretchable-electronic-uv-monitor.
2. L'Oreal's UV sensor sticks to your fingernail. The Verge. www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/1/7/16861722/loreal-uv-sensor-nail-sticker-nfc-announced-ces-2018.