As a freckled redhead, I’ve grown up well aware of the necessity to wear sunscreen due to dangers of the sun. But even after twenty-something years of existence, I still misjudge and end up sunburnt, aging my skin and leaving it more vulnerable to skin cancers. And (gasp!) some days, I don't wear sunscreen at all. It can't matter all that much, right? L'Oréal wants to help inform consumers about exactly how much sun exposure they’re getting on a daily basis. The company is branching out from its cosmetics roots to tackle not just non-comedogenic skin care, but preventative skin tech, with My UV Patch.
My UV Patch is an ultra-thin, stretchable sensor you stick anywhere on your skin to track your personal UV exposure. The one-square-inch patch is half as thick as a strand of hair and houses photosensitive dyes that change color depending on how much UV radiation it's exposed to. “The key point is to really understand the amounts of exposure you have, even day-to-day, just going to work, walking outside,” says Guive Balooch, the global VP of L'Oréal’s technology incubator that developed My UV Patch. “Having an application won’t tell you that. You need to measure it.” On the patch is a heart that changes color depending on how much UV radiation you’ve received, with the stretchable, flexible electronics hidden underneath. To learn how much sun exposure you’ve experienced after a few hours or a few days of wear, you open the app, snap a picture of the heart, and the app deciphers the heart’s color changes. Balooch says that with this information, L'Oréal can give you lifestyle habit information. It can let you know the time of day you're most exposed (maybe it’s your mid-morning coffee trip?), and with that knowledge, it can empower you to change those habits and reduce your risk. And unlike existing wearable technology, My UV Patch is disposable. It's something you can use and learn from without spending hundreds of dollars. Right now, the launch plans for My UV Patch are still up in the air — Balooch says L'Oréal doesn't anticipate charging the consumer when it launches later this year. (We guess that maybe it'll come free with purchases of the company's other skin-care products.) "We want to empower users through technology," Balooch says. That's certainly not something we expected a brand such as L'Oréal to say, but it's certainly something we can get behind.