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This genius TikTok find tells me when it's time to reapply sunscreen

The viral UV stickers helped me stay sunburn-free on a recent beach vacation.
TODAY Illustration / Courtesy Emma Stessman

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I know how important it is to wear sunscreen — I've heard the message from both of my parents and dermatologists so many times through the years that I always make sure to put on a heavy layer of SPF whenever I know that I'll be spending a lot of time in the sun.

The problem for me, however, is reapplication. When I'm at the beach or pool, I don't always remember to reapply within the recommended time period — and when I do, it's often because I notice a friend reapplying or because someone points out that my skin is starting to look a little pink (yikes).

But I'm not the only one who struggles. According to Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist in Boston, most of the data suggests that most people do not reapply sunscreen enough throughout the day. That's a problem, because, "in order for sunscreen to be effective, it needs to form a continuous and smooth layer on the skin," she said. Over time it rubs off or gets sweated off, so reapplying can help keep the layer.

Thankfully, I recently discovered a unique product on TikTok that's been helping me remember to reapply, so I can enjoy hot summer days while staying sunburn-free: SpotmyUV's UV Detection Stickers. The product has been going viral on the app, and videos featuring the stickers have more than 22 million collective views.

SpotmyUV 16-Pack UV Stickers

How do UV stickers work?

According to the brand, the stickers are the first clinically-proven UV Detection Stickers. A 2019 study on the product found that people who wore the stickers were more likely to reapply sunscreen than those who didn't.

Each sticker is designed with three layers. The first layer is the waterproof adhesive, which keeps it on your skin. Next is the UV-sensing ink, which is purple in UV light, then turns clear in the sun after you apply sunscreen. As you're out in the sun, it'll turn back to its original shade to let you know when it's time to reapply. The final layer features the brand's Dermatrue technology, which is said to act "just like your skin," to sense things like differences in SPF and UV levels and respond like your skin does to give you an accurate idea of how protected you are, according to the brand.

Courtesy Emma Stessman

Hirsch said that she would potentially recommend UV stickers like these for people who often forget to reapply sunscreen and that they can be a good tool for people who would benefit from the reminder.

Do UV detection stickers work?

On a recent trip to Greece, I spent nearly a week lounging, swimming, walking around and spending a majority of the daylight hours in direct sunlight, but I didn't get sunburned once — and I think a lot of the credit for that can go to these stickers.

I wore them on a few of the days when the UV was highest, and they served as a helpful reminder to reapply throughout the day. After applying sunscreen, the brand recommends waiting for around 30 seconds before rubbing it in to let it absorb into the sticker and skin. The patch will then turn clear after being exposed to direct sunlight for a minute.

Most of the time, I could go about an hour and a half to two hours before it turned purple and I needed to reapply, but when I wore it swimming, I noticed that I had a shorter protection period. While I was usually pretty quick to notice when it would change color, if I didn't, my friends would point out the sticker and tell me that I needed more sunscreen (and then they'd realize that they should probably put more on, too). It lasts all day (up to 12 hours), so once you reapply, it turns clear again and you can start the process all over.

It wasn't just helpful for knowing when to reapply, it also made me realize that I wasn't applying as much sunscreen as I should be — a couple of times, after going through the whole process the sticker was still a light shade of purple, meaning that I wasn't fully protected and I should add another coat (which I wouldn't have done I wasn't wearing it). Many TikTokers have been testing it on different sunscreens to see how strong they are, and I'd be interested to do the same.

And while I was worried that I might have a funky circular tan line on my arm, there was none to be found! The stickers were so helpful for reminding me when it was time to apply sunscreen throughout the day, and I'm planning on bringing them along for every trip I take this summer.

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