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Can This Bracelet Prevent Sun Damage?

Maybe, but I think it's just complicating the issue.

| January 7th, 2014
Courtesy of Netamo
June bracelet by Netamo

Here at YouBeauty, we are all about tech-y gadgets and apps that make being healthy and beautiful easier. Tracking your meals, working out on the go, even making you smarter—we love it.

But portable tech doesn't work for everything. I was initially intrigued by the just-announced sun-tracker June bracelet by Netatmo—designed by Louis Vuitton and Harry Winston collaborator Camille Toupet—and the idea of a chic accessory that can help you stay safe in the sun, and ergo prevent sun damage and skin cancer.

They claim the bracelet and accompanying app (both to be launched later this year) work as a "personalized sun protection coach" that tells you what SPF level to wear, how much sun exposure you've gotten, and whether or not to wear a hat or sunglasses, based on your habits and skintone.

But the thing is...

Everyone, regardless of skintone or how sunny it is that day, should wear a full-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen every day, rain or shine. (UVA rays sneak through even on cloudy days.) Sometimes the app says you need less than SPF 30 and sometimes more, but that's just complicating things. Stick to something 30+ and you're all set. And that goes for every skintone.

It also implies that sometimes you don't need sunglasses, but UV-protective sunglasses are pretty much a must unless it's nighttime or full-on raining. Again, those sneaky UVA rays are getting to your eyes, even when it's cloudy.

Oh, and it tracks the user's daily sun exposure so it can notify her when she's reached her maximum exposure limit so she can then protect herself. Um, what? Any derm worth his or her salt will tell you that sun damage is cumulative and there is no such thing as a maximum exposure limit. Five minutes here, 15 minutes there throughout the day adds up big time.

So I guess my big beef with this bracelet is that it's giving the impression that sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and sun avoidance are variable, like you can pick and choose when you want to protect yourself from the sun. The reality is that during daylight hours, UV rays are present in our atmosphere whether you can feel them on your skin or not and your sun-safe plan—if you're truly serious about preventing skin cancer and lovely things like wrinkles and sagging—shouldn't change much from day to day.

For a little derm-perspective: "While the device is great because it measures UV exposure, the implication that there is a 'safe' level of sun exposure is misguided. At worst the bracelet will give people a false sense of security, and at best, it may raise awareness that most of us get significant UV exposure without even trying," adds Richie L. Lin, M.D. of Dermatology Consultants of Short Hills and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The easiest, cheapest, most foolproof way to keep your skin fresh and youthful is to wear SPF 30 on exposed body parts every day, even if it's cloudy. Wear UV-protective sunglasses every day unless it's truly dark. Wear a hat with a wide enough brim to create shade. No, I don't expect you to wear a sun hat in the dead of winter or on a rainy, overcast day. With a hat you can use your own judgement, and do you really need a $100 bracelet to help you?

QUIZ: Are You At Risk For Skin Cancer?

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