Sunscreen drinks, UV bracelets and pills have all been touted as solutions to sunscreen – which nobody really likes having to slather on every four hours. But do these inventions work? We find out.
The sunscreen pill is made from an extract of a fern, Polypodium leucotomos. The fern extract increases the amount of time it takes for your skin to burn when you’re out in the sun. Nobody’s quite sure how it works, but the main understanding is that the herbal extract acts as an antioxidant, protecting the skin from oxidative damage from UV rays. The herb is known to reduce sun sensitivity in people with polymorphous light eruption – an itchy reaction to the sun.
Polypodium leucotomos extract hasn’t been given an SPF factor because it is not a skin product, but the protection factor is thought to be between three and five. This is not enough to protect you from sunburn, and is nowhere near the recommended SPF of at least 30. Other antioxidants have been found to work in a similar way like green tea extracts, and vitamin C and E.
The verdict: In a nutshell, yes it works but not very much. Far more research is needed and in the meantime, wear sunscreen.
There is no scientific evidence behind claims that water infused with electromagnetic waves can protect the skin from UV rays, but that hasn’t stopped one company from selling these drinks. The instructions say to drink one bottle or powder pack before the sun to offer 3-5 hours of ‘supplemental’ whole-body sun protection. It can also be used after sun to ‘soothe’ skin and be drunk daily to ‘repair years of sun damage, provide anti-ageing benefits, beautify the skin and promote overall health and wellness’. Sounds magic! The doctor behind the invention says it works, and clinical trials are in the pipeline.
The verdict: Until the results of several clinical trials are out, stick with your regular sunblock. The ingredients are all pretty good (it’s full of antioxidants), so if you did want to try it, you probably wouldn’t actually hurt yourself.
These bracelets can’t protect you from the sun, but they can alert you to the intensity of UV rays so you can take steps to avoid it. There are a lot of new devices that have been developed using crowdfunding, and are offering smartphone apps and tracking devices. They all sound interesting and worth looking into further, though you’ll need to see which one will suit your purposes.
The verdict: We’re not sure how well any of them work or how accurate they are, so read reviews and check how the bracelet you are interested in actually functions. If they do work, it’s a great idea. Don’t forget your sunscreen!