Thanks to Megan Manco ‘16, your phone will know when you’ve had too much sun

Beach towel? Check. Sunscreen? Check. High-tech sunburn-monitoring patch? It’s here.

As a clinical research scientist at L’Oréal, Megan Manco, Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing and Management MPS ’16, co-created My UV Patch, a sticker applied to the skin that measures the total UVA and UVB rays coming in, then sends a message to a linked smartphone recommending that the user put on sunscreen or go inside. The heart-shaped patch contains a layer of photosensitive dyes over a flexible polyimide circuit board; to generate recommendations and advice, it combines sun exposure data with other variables such as the user’s skin type and local weather.

“For the cosmetics industry, this is huge, because it molds to your skin—people don’t always want to wear a bracelet,” Manco says.

La Roche-Posay, a L’Oréal brand, launched My UV Patch internationally in 2016 and in the U.S. this year. The product won a L’Oréal Science Pops Beauty Research and Innovation Award from a pool of 150 applications within the company, and Manco was promoted to global director of scientific communications for SkinCeuticals, a role in which she bridges the gap between scientists and consumers.

While developing the patch, Manco was still a student, and a team leader for the 2016 CFMM capstone presentation, The Future of Innovation. One of her class’s recommendations was that companies form fluid teams with diverse expertise.

Manco believes that the heterogeneous makeup of the My UV Skin Patch team was key to the project’s success. Different members had backgrounds in engineering, business, biology, and design. She herself had a science background and was learning marketing at FIT. Additionally, the team collaborated with John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois developing stretchable electronics.

“It’s one thing to come up with the technology, but to make it usable and user-friendly, you need those different perspectives,” she says. “You can’t work in the silo, one by one.”