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Add to Grocery List: Check Sun Damage

One person dies from melanoma every 57 minutes, according to a recent article published on JAMA Dermatology. The study’s authors shared that the most effective method of influencing sun-going behaviors is through displaying appearance-based results and trajectories through UV photography. In the past, UV photography has been used in settings like health fairs for middle school children. However, MyChelle Dermaceuticals and Whole Foods have exclusively partnered to broaden the impact of this technology by launching the VISIA Complexion Analysis Program, making UV photography accessible to anyone who grocery shops. As the authors state, “For the first time, UV photography is available in grocery stores as a complimentary tool for consumers to make informed and objective decisions about their skin care and sun protection habits.”

UV Photography and Skin-Damage Detection

Grocery shoppers can find a UV camera staffed by trained company specialists in the ‘Whole Body” skincare section in select Whole Foods Markets. While providing these cameras was originally a marketing campaign, the scan “delivers a particularly strong message to consumers and has the ability to inspire change.” Since the camera reveals accumulated UV photodamage, the scan provides an objective method for customers to measure the effectiveness of their skin care products and suggests products for change or improvement. The authors state, “For the first time in most people’s lives, objective evidence provides the “proof” that sun protection is an essential, life-long responsibility to ensure health and vitality, and the knowledge comes at no monetary cost to the consumer.”

In-store Consultation: Scan, Analysis and Diagnosis

The UV camera scan is comprised of an “8-point facial scan profile,” which captures visual information for 8 areas:

1) Visible spots
2) Wrinkles and fine lines
3) Texture
4) Pores
5) UV spots
6) Brown spots
7) Vascular areas
8) Porphyrins and bacterial secretions.

Clients are given a quantitative score for each area–as well as an age and ethnicity-matched score for comparison—and a physical copy of their scan to take home.

Once participants acquire a scan, they also receive a complimentary in-store consultation. Each consultation consists of a take-home version of their UV photograph and a customized, recommended regimen–including names of specific products–by a consultant. (Though these consultants are not permitted to diagnose clients, they may refer individuals with specific diagnostic issues to a dermatologist with their VISIA results.)


Three to six months after their initial scans, clients are encouraged to return to the VISIA kiosk for a follow-up appointment. During this visit, clients are able to view their “before” and “after” scans side by side, and may receive a revised or fine-tuned version of their skincare regimen by the consultant.

The authors mention possible long-term goals to reduce risks of developing skin cancer such as changing the culture of “everyone looks better with a tan” to “tanning causes wrinkles, sun spots, and makes you look older than you are,” and educating the 1 million Americans who currently use indoor UV tanning beds each day. The UV camera programs is currently in 47 locations across the United States, and in 3 locations in the United Kingdom with plans for further global expansion, including Norway and Australia. 

Sources: 1, 2

Image: Laura Taylor

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