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We Tested a Sunburn Detection Sticker That Tells You When to Reapply Sunscreen: Here’s What Happened (Watch Video)


Summer barbecues, pool parties, nature walks, and beach days should all have one essential thing in common: sunscreen. Most of us are good enough about applying our SPF before we venture outdoors — but reapplying is a different story. If you often forget to reapply your sunscreen and could use a little reminder, look no further than the SPOTMYUV sticker.

This nifty little sticker is purple when it comes out of the package. When you place it on your skin and cover it in sunscreen, it turns clear in about one to two minutes. And when it turns purple once more, that means it’s time to reapply your SPF.

When I first heard about the SPOTMYUV sticker, I was curious — not just about how well it worked, but whether it could help me determine which of my sunscreens don’t perform as well as they should.

Ultimately, I was impressed. I tested it with an expired bottle of chemical sunscreen with SPF 40, a mineral sunscreen of SPF 30, and a chemical sunscreen of SPF 50. (More on the results below.)

How does the SPOTMYUV sticker work?

The sticker reacts to ultraviolet (UV) rays, just like your skin. It’s made up of three layers — the topmost one, which SPOTMYUV calls DermaTRUE, detects, absorbs, and “wears” sunscreen. It responds to chemical, mineral, and waterproof SPF.

The middle layer gets its purple color from UV sensing ink. If there is enough high-quality sunscreen on the top layer of the sticker (and the sticker is exposed to full sun), the purple ink turns clear. If there isn’t enough sunscreen, it will stay a deep purple or only get a little lighter in color.

The bottom-most layer is the adhesive that keeps this sticker attached to skin all day long. It is sweat-proof, waterproof, and swim-proof, but should come off easily when peeled.

See this sticker in action in the video below.

Does the sticker work with all kinds of sunscreen?

The company that makes the sticker says that it works with all types of sunscreen: chemical, mineral, waterproof, and others. (Chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin, where it protects the skin by converting UV rays into heat. Mineral sunscreen is a physical barrier; it sits on top of the skin and reflects UV rays.)

I tested the sticker with three different sunscreens. First, I used an expired bottle of Supergoop! Broad Spectrum SPF 40 (Buy from Supergoop!, $36 for 1.7 ounces). This is the priciest facial sunscreen I have, but also one of my most trusted — it’s independently tested and has saved me from many a sunburn. However, it’s been three years since I purchased it, and Supergoop! sunscreens have a two-year shelf life. (Time to throw it out.)

I was curious to see whether the SPOTMYUV sticker could effectively detect that a sunscreen was no longer good. So, I put the sticker on my forearm and applied the sunscreen generously to the sticker and the skin surrounding it. As expected, the sticker remained a vibrant purple — which meant I was no longer protected from the sun by the Supergoop!

I rinsed off my forearm (I didn’t want the expired sunscreen on my skin for very long) and tried again with Bliss Block Star Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 (Buy from Amazon, $21.99). I applied a layer and sat in the sun. The sticker faded to a lavender color but didn’t become completely clear, so I applied a second layer. After about another minute, the sticker turned clear, indicating adequate sun protection.

Later in the day when I ventured back outside, the sticker began to turn light purple. This time, I applied Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen Spray SPF 50 (Buy from Amazon, $9.48). After about a minute, the sticker turned clear once more.

How long does one sunscreen detection sticker last?

As SPOTMYUV states, each sticker lasts for about 12 hours or six applications of sunscreen.

I also wanted to test whether the sticker was really waterproof, so I wore it in the shower and went to sleep with it. In the morning, it was still stuck to my forearm, but peeled off easily.

Can you use the sticker on any skin tone?

No matter your skin tone, this sticker will work. The technology doesn’t rely on the color of your skin to determine your exposure to UV light.

Does the sticker work in various levels of UV light?

Yes — but with a caveat. If there isn’t much UV light on the day you wear this sticker (if it’s raining or very cloudy, for example), it will likely stay purple. UV light can penetrate clouds, though — so keep in mind that you can still get burned in overcast weather.

Also, depending on the levels of UV light in your area, you may need a higher SPF sunscreen in order to turn your SPOTMYUV sticker clear. Certain parts of the world experience more UV light than others. For example: Peru experiences some of the most intense UV light in the world, whereas New York City experiences moderate to high levels of UV light in the summer.

To determine the levels of UV light in your area, check out your local UV index. The UV index is a daily forecast of the intensity of UV radiation from the sun, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A number below two means that UV radiation is low that day. Between three and five is moderate, six to seven is high, eight to 10 is very high, and 11+ is extreme.

So, should I try it?

The bottom line for the SPOTMYUV sticker? I really liked this product and also liked that I can buy it in bulk. A pack of 48 stickers costs $35.99 on Amazon. It’s useful if you often forget to reapply your sunscreen, and it’s also useful in determining which sunscreens need two layers or don’t last very long. Better yet — these stickers are HSA eligible.

Let’s hope this little tech tool helps us all achieve a sunburn-free summer.

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