I was one of the first people to try the groundbreaking wearable sensor that can detect skin-damaging UV and pollution levels, here's what happened

SOS (Save Our Skin).

17 Jun 2019

THE PRODUCT

La Roche-Posay My Skin Track UV, £54.95

THE HYPE

As people grow ever more keen to understand the wonders of skincare, the amount of products that promise to protect our skin from the environment is rapidly increasing. According to Global Vice President of L’Oreal’s Technology Incubator, Guive Balooch, beauty companies should take on the responsibility to make sure that we have the necessary tools to determine what sort of skincare we should be investing in. He says: "Because of technology, consumers are becoming more demanding and have a better understanding of some of the mysteries of skincare. Companies need to have tools and devices to measure the appropriate signs and give consumers feedback to help them make the right skincare choices, meet their demands and ultimately make more personalised and tailored skincare recommendations."

Enter the all-new My Skin Track UV. This battery-free sensor clips onto your clothes to track UV and pollution levels that could be wreaking havoc with your skin. With the accompanying My Skin Track UV app, you can keep an eye on the levels of skin-damaging external aggressors so that you can act preventatively. "For example, the biological sign of UVB damage is redness. However, once you see that appear, it is too late and the sun has already caused damage," explains Guive. Now though, with the help of My Skin Track UV, you can figure out when to protect your skin from external aggressors before any irreversible damage is actually done.

As the sensor gathers more data, the app can start recommending you skin products based on the external factors that you are currently facing. Sounds simple, right?

THE REVIEWER

Shannon Lawlor, Freelance Writer

BEAUTY BIO

I know that I need to wear SPF everyday, trust me. Enough dermatologists and skincare experts have told me in my time that SPF application is a crucial step in minimising anymore sun damage to my already damaged skin. But frankly, when it comes to actually applying the stuff, I think of every excuse I can in order to avoid it. I have really congested skin and hate the feeling of heavy product on my face, so when the day is overcast (which in reality is the majority of the time), I usually convince myself there’s no need for sun cream and skip it all together.

But that’s not to say that my skin doesn’t show signs of sun damage. I have pigmentation on my nose, cheeks and forehead. My forehead is also covered in fine lines that I am convinced are as a result of recurrent sunburn.

When I first heard about the My Skin Track UV, I was a little apprehensive. I’ve tried every skincare app under the sun and tend to find them a bit gimmicky. However, I’ve never actually tried one with a real-time sensor and think it might do me good to see exactly when my skin is most at risk from UV.

On another note, my skin barrier is seriously compromised (as a result of over-exfoliating) which has basically left me with a tonne of breakouts, redness and irritation. The reality is that there is no better time for me to be tracking all of the external factors that are damaging my skin while it’s at its most vulnerable. From SPF to antioxidants, I’m hoping that this gadget will help me figure out exactly when to apply certain skincare products, and when I can skip on others.

THE REVIEW

First things first, if you don't have a phone that has an NFC scanner, this little gadget won't work. An NFC scanner is the component on your phone that allows you to make less payments and is actually present on most Android phones since 2015 and all iPhones from the 7 onwards. I have to Google what on earth all of this means in order to check my phone is compatible - luckily it is.

Now that the technical(ish) part is out of the way, I download the app and follow the set-up steps. It asks my name, skin type and asks me to allow permission for the app to use my location (which is how it determines pollen-count and air quality FYI). Finally, I have to sync the sensor with my phone by simply tapping it on the NFC reader (don't worry, the app identifies the model of your phone and tells you exactly where that is) and select whereabouts on my body I plan on wearing the sensor. So far, so good. The setup was easy enough - super quick and relatively easy to follow.

I decide to attach the sensor to the neckline of my t-shirt for maximum exposure. When I first heard about the sensor, I was half expecting to attach the sensor and totally forget about it until my phone alerted me when UV exposure is too high. However, after the first five minutes of getting to grips with the app I realise it doesn't quite work that way. While the sensor stores all of the data, you have to sync the sensor with your device every two-hours or so to keep readings up to date.

The dashboard outlines the current UV index in your area, your personal UV exposure (measured as a percentage of sunstock), the air quality level and the pollen index. I set the sensor up and plan to spend the next few hours at home so don't pay too much attention to the readings. I notice that the air quality level is sat at a very clean 85 and that, of course, my UV exposure is sat at 0%. Roughly four hours later, before I pop out for the afternoon, I sync the sensor to see what sort of information it has gathered just from inside my flat.

I am shook.

My sunstock level has hit 12%, and I haven't even left the house. I hit the 'trends' graph to see at what time my UV exposure went up and noticed it was as I was doing the washing up in front of my kitchen windows. Stupidly, I still don't bother with SPF as it's relatively cloudy. The app tells me my UV exposure isn't considered dangerous until my sunstock hits 75% and I'm well off that yet.

I take the 10-minute walk from my flat to the train station and hope on a train into town. When I get off the train, I check in on the app and notice that the air quality level has dropped to a slightly less brilliant 64. I refrain from checking in on my sunstock until after a couple of hours shopping to gage just how badly the intermittent sunny spells are damaging my skin.

As I hop back on the train to head home for the day, I sync the sensor one last time. Reflecting, I gage that I probably only got caught in a couple of sunny spells the whole day so assume that my UV exposure levels won't have hit the 75% danger zone.

The sunstock level reads 62%. 62%?! While I was right in thinking I hadn't exposed my skin to any dangerous levels of UV, I still can't believe that such minimal outside time has exposed my skin to that level of UV damage. I choose to take a seat far away from any windows on the train.

When I get home, I slather my skin in SPF50 as if it's going to reverse any of the day's damage and obsessively check the app throughout the rest of the evening. Of course, the UV exposure doesn't creep any higher as the sun starts to drop and I stay in for the rest of the evening.

The next day, I wake up, brush my teeth, cleansd my face, moisturise, thoroughly apply SPF, sync my sensor and pop the SPF tube in my handbag for touch-ups throughout the day.

THE VERDICT

While the My Skin Track UV did exactly what I hoped it would (shock me into applying SPF on the reg) it has also alerted me to the fact that it's probably too little too late for my complexion when it comes to sun damage.

However, it's needless to say that I'm still using the My Skin Track UV religiously and now use it to gage when I need to reapply my SPF throughout the day. While I love it for detecting UV exposure, as for the other trackers such as pollution and pollen, I have noticed that the novelty has started to wear off. Perhaps once I've got to grips with SPF, I'll find it easier to move onto pollution protection.