I ran across a review for a suntan app called “iTanSmart.” Let me share the information about this product first, and then I’ll share my thoughts at the end (you know I have something to say...)
The basic features for this app are available for free from the Apple Store. For $1.99, the app will block advertisements, provide a list of medical conditions and related drugs that may increase one’s sun sensitivity, track user’s total daily sun exposure and vitamin D production, and offer specialized settings for children.
The app requires that the user enter the following criteria:
- Whether you are managing for sunburn or for tanning.
- Your skin type (very fair to dark)
- Your level of sun protection.
- Your location (environment and directness of sunlight, such as Beach or Mountains, Sunny or Cloudy)
The video for this product claims the app takes the guesswork out of sun tanning by alerting users when to get out of the sun or when to reapply sunscreen. The app uses “real time UV data from space satellites to measure the current and maximum UV index in your location.” The video goes on to say that the four day UV forecast is perfect for vacationers and avid sunbathers. They can even see the forecast in vacationing towns so they can pack the “appropriate SPF and outer wear.”
iTanSmart will alert you with audible chimes when it’s time to leave the sun or reapply sunscreen. Oh…and when maximum vitamin D production has occurred (emphasizing that all this occurs before over exposure).
The developer of iTanSmart and president of UV Technologies, LLC has been recently diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and had it removed surgically. He’s now reportedly more determined to get this valuable tool out to the public.
The video concludes with a testimonial from an attractive, fair-skinned red haired woman: “I have a very fair complexion, and in the past when I've laid out in the sun I either got no color or burned badly. Since downloading this app a month ago, and using it often, I haven’t burned once! I even have tan lines, which I typically only get after a burn subsides. I am SO glad I downloaded this app!”
At first glance, the intent of this product seems to be towards sun protection, but there are some serious flags and flaws with the product information. First of all, let’s look at the product name: “I tan smart?” Really? I know and I hope that you know that there is no such thing as a smart tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Period.
The next flag for me is that the first criterion one enters is whether or not to manage your exposure for sunburn or for tanning. Again, tanning is bad. There should be no choice on what to manage.
Admittedly, I like the other input. Let’s say for instance that I typically wear SPF 30 and I go to the neighborhood pool. I notice that I somehow packed SPF 15 instead. I could enter this value into the app and hopefully find out if there is a different frequency to how often I should reapply. Then again, I could simply know that SPF 30 is recommended always…and I should always reapply every 2 hours. My phone and tablet have a timer, so no app needed. If I happen to pack SPF 15 by mistake, simply apply more often.
I also like the list of medical conditions and medications that could increase sun sensitivity. I have taken medication for my cholesterol for so long that I haven’t read the medical information about the drugs in years. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether or not my sensitivity is affected.
However, I’m leery of the emphasis on Vitamin D production. Yes, I know that the sun is a source for Vitamin D and that the tanning industry screams of its health benefits. I also know that almost every breathing dermatologist will recommend Vitamin D intake through diet and/or supplements. It personally takes me seconds in the morning to digest a supplement that costs pennies each.
Lastly, the lady who shares her testimonial does nothing to tout the app as a tool for sun protection. She states enthusiastically that she has tan lines without burning! I’ll say again…tanned skin is damaged skin! I really don’t think the developer of this app understands this, despite having had a basal cell carcinoma removed from his arm!
I’m sure I could input settings into iTanSmart that would do exactly as I would request in such an app…to inform me of the local UV index, to remind me to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or get out of the sun and to aid in sun protection. But unfortunately, there seems to be far too much flexibility and product attitude to encourage users to get a tan, and therefore increase their risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Tan management is not sun protection.
Please understand that this personal opinion is based solely on the product video that I’ve watched and I have not tried this app for myself. (This product is not available on Android yet). You can watch the video here. If you have downloaded and tried iTanSmart, please feel free to share your thoughts with me. If you find it to be a good tool for sun protection (and not tan management) I will be more than happy to share such thoughts right here.