Applying sunscreen on vacation is becoming even easier than flagging down the pool boy for a refill on your cocktail.
That’s because a new device called SnappyScreen—the world’s first “touchless sunscreen application system”—is currently rolling out at hotels across the US and the Caribbean. Unlike putting on your own sun protection (which you’re probably doing wrong), SnappyScreen mists you with a perfectly even layer of SPF—and it does its thing in less than 10 seconds.
“The idea really stemmed from my older sister, who’s a horrible sunscreen applier,” laughs SnappyScreen’s 25-year-old creator, Kristen McClellan, who conceived of the idea six years ago. “I always had to wait for her to put on sunscreen and she’d still end up with a handprint or a splotchy underarm mark.”
During her freshman year at Cornell University, the younger McClellan entered her concept—a spray tanning-style booth that dispenses sunscreen—in an elevator pitch competition. She came in second place and started building her first prototype soon after.
How it works
As someone who is notoriously lazy about wearing sunscreen—despite the fact that I’m ultra-fair and live in sunny Southern California (I know)—I was intrigued, so I went to the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills to try their new SnappyScreen for myself. After selecting my desired SPF (15, 30, or 40) and height from a touch-screen, I put on a shower cap and eye protection and stepped into the booth.
Seven seconds later, the pedestal on which I was standing started to slowly rotate as jets in the back of the booth gently misted me with a fine layer of clear, quick-dry sunscreen. (The brand used UV cameras while developing the booths to ensure you get sprayed everywhere—and I mean everywhere).
When it was all over, I could tell that I was wearing sunscreen, but it didn’t feel sticky or filmy. And yes, it took less than 10 seconds from start to finish, which officially leaves zero excuses for not reapplying SPF every two hours as recommended .
The next frontier of sun safety?
If there’s a downside, it’s that your only sunscreen option is SnappyScreen’s proprietary blend—so if you’re super loyal to a particular type of sunscreen, or just aren’t into chemical sunscreens (that you might also be inadvertently inhaling), you’re out of luck. Though it is a UVA/UVB broad spectrum variety that’s hypoallergenic, water-resistant, and free of oxybenzone, parabens, and alcohol.
But clearly, hotel guests aren’t too bothered by this fact, since the device has proven wildly popular at the ten resorts it currently calls home (including The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, FL, and the Grand Hyatt in Kauai, HI), and 50 more locations are currently on the waiting list.
And it’s not just a gimmick, stresses McClellan—this invention has the potential to truly improve skin health. “Achieving full coverage in ten seconds has definitely encouraged people to reapply sunscreen,” she says. “Since we made the application easier, people are now putting on sunscreen two or three times a day when they’re out at the pool, or even more.” Cue the sound of dermatologists everywhere clinking margarita glasses.
Before you head out on vacation, stock up on these 11 essential natural beauty products to prevent heat-induced freakouts. And don’t forget to pack the right pieces for your active adventures and here’s how to perfect your poolside ponytail in advance.