Photo: Courtesy of Harmonized H20.
We don't have to reiterate the importance of sun protection to you; we've already discussed it in great detail (and shared our favorite formulas). But, whether you like to admit it or not, there are probably days when you slip up and head outdoors sans SPF. And, we get that — remembering to slather it on can be tough. But, what if we said you could chug a shot of special water that'd keep you protected from the sun for up to three hours, no lotion needed? Sounds crazy, right? Well, that's exactly what the company Harmonized H20 is claiming.
This product, called UV Neutralizer, is supposed to protect you from UVA and UVB rays by, well, neutralizing their effect. How is it done, exactly? "It works through the water molecules just below the surface of the skin and vibrates them in some fashion so that the frequencies of this area of skin are changed," says Dr. Altchek, a dermatologist who is not affiliated with Harmonized H20. "It supposedly cancels out the burning frequencies of UVA and UVB rays." So, to break that down in an easy-to-digest nugget, this is supposed to alter the natural water molecules beneath the surface of the skin, changing its chemistry so it doesn't absorb the UV rays and, hence, doesn't get any of the harmful effects. Sounds a little too good to be true, no?
As to whether this magic water actually does what it says, Altchek is skeptical. "It's definitely a step in the right direction," he says. "But, we haven't seen any convincing clinical trials. I'm hesitant to throw my full support behind something that we're not sure works or not." Dr. Susan Stuart, another dermatologist who is unaffiliated with the brand, is also wary. "There is no testing of this product nor approval by the FDA," she says. "Anecdotal reports or claims of effectiveness mean nothing when compared with scientific studies validated by multiple medical centers."
Altchek is also concerned that if this water is able to guard against UV rays, there's a possibility it can block other things — things that are actually good for us. "It's altering the frequency of your skin, and your skin isn't a rock-hard barrier. There are things constantly moving in and out," he says. "Since we don't know what else this change in frequency is blocking, there is a concern that, over time, it could affect your vitamin D absorption." And, as we know, vitamin D is vital to the health of our bones.
Now, it's important to note that dermatologists like Altchek do believe something like this could, in theory, work — eventually. However, both doctors agree there needs to be a whole lot more study and independent testing done to validate the efficacy of this technology. While we think it's exciting that drinkable sunscreen could be the future of sun protection, we're also not keen on getting bamboozled into buying something that makes a lot of lofty claims without much scientific evidence.
"It reminds me of this elixir created by a man named William J. A. Bailey. It was called Radithor, and it was supposed to be a miracle elixir that cured everything," Altchek says. The stuff was selling for $50 a bottle during the Great Depression — until it was discovered that the "magic" in the bottle was actually radiation. "One guy who drank the stuff actually died from radiation poisoning and had to be buried in a lead coffin," Altchek says. "I'll put my money on conventional methods, like limiting sun time, wearing protective clothing, and applying sunscreen." Right there with you, doc.