How To Pick The Right Brand Of Sunscreen

Image courtesy of Jeff Wilcox.

Image courtesy of Jeff Wilcox.

June means the official start of summer, whether you’re counting by the end of the school year or the official calendar date. Americans will trade in jackets for towels, and days cooped up for those spent lounging by the pool. But regardless of whether you’re wearing short shorts, a wide-brimmed sunhat, or stylish maxi dress, there’s one thing you should not leave the house without – sunscreen.

Chances are, if you’re like most Americans, you do just that. A recent study found that only 14% of men and 30% of women regularly wear sunscreen, putting themselves at risk for skin cancer.

The rate of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has risen 250%  for children, adolescents, and young adults since 1973, according to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. And it doesn’t matter if you burn or not,  by not using sunscreen, you’re putting yourself at risk for cancer.

“Anyone can get skin cancer, so everyone should take steps to protect themselves from the sun,” stated Dr. Mark Lebwohl, president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

So what is the ideal brand of sunscreen?

According to the AAD, it’s one that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and has an SPF of 30 or higher. Be sure the sunscreen says those words on the label, or else you may just be getting protection against sunburns and not against skin cancer and early aging.

Although the AAD’s website doesn’t list specific sunscreens, here are a few that meet that criteria: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, Banana Boat Ultramist, Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion Ultra Guard, Sun Bum Lip Balm.

You can learn more about picking the right sunscreen, preventing skin cancer, and sunscreen application tips on the AAD’s website.

Infographic courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Infographic courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.


3 Technologies That Will Change The Way We Charge

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Image courtesy of Jim Bauer.

Utilizing ultrasound, RFsignals, and superspeed, three companies are trying to change the way we charge our devices.

#1 uBeam Wireless has created a way to charge devices wirelessly through ultrasound. The prototype uses ultrasound to send electricity to devices up to 15 feet away. All it takes is a receiver on your phone, and your device receives electricity like WiFi. The device isn’t out yet, but you can learn more about it from TechCrunch and The New York Times.

#2 Nikola Labs turns RF signals (like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE) into power for your device. The company has created an iPhone case that can wirelessly charge your phone wherever you go. According to TechCrunch, the case  converts wasted energy from the phone and converts it to battery life, powering it up to 30% longer. Nikola Labs will launch a Kickstarter campaign with the case soon.

#3 Nucleus Scientific wants to charge a phone in the amount of time it takes to fill your car’s gas tank. Their new Intelligent Energy System “reduces battery charging times from hours to minutes while extending lifetimes considerably,” according to the company’s website. The technology is still patent-pending.

Three Apps For Better Financial Health

Apps like Digit can help you save, even when you don't know where to start. | Image courtesy of Digit.

Apps like Digit can help you save, even when you don’t know where to start. | Image courtesy of Digit.

We live in the 21st century, but most apps that deal with money are living like it’s 1999. If you want to find high-tech ways to save better and more efficiently, you need to check these out. After all, the majority of Americans stress about money, and stress is bad for your health.

#1 Digit
In case you didn’t know, Americans are bad at saving. Really bad. In fact, 60% of Americans between 18- and 40-years-old saved absolutely nothing in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve. And adults under 35 actually lost 2% of their savings that year.

Digit wants to change that by automatically withdrawing savings from your account. The service goes like this:

  • Sign up for Digit
  • Digit analyzes your spending habits
  • Every two to three days Digit automatically withdrawals $5 to $50, depending on what you can afford to save
  • When you need the money, you text Digit, and it’s back to your account within the day

With 128-bit bank-level security, you don’t have to worry about hackers any more than with a normal bank, and any money you put in is also FDIC insured up to $250,000. Digit is also so confident in its savings algorithm that if you need the money ASAP, and Digit took out too much, you don’t have to pay any over-draft (taking out too much money) fees.

The service is mainly done through text messaging, which can be considered a pro or con depending on the person. In addition, the money Digit saves doesn’t earn any interest (Hint: that’s how Digit makes its money.)

Summary: If you’re not saving any money now or are not disciplined enough to put cash away, then Digit is for you. But you’re already regularly saving and want to make decent (in today’s world) bang for your buck, you should consider putting your savings into a high-earning savings account through an online bank, like Ally.

#2 LearnVest
LearnVest is online budgeting, goal-setting software that accurately monitors your savings, spending, and loans, so you can see your actual net worth in real time.

The website connects to your bank accounts and acts like a one-stop portal for your finances. Through LearnVest, you can create a budget and set financial goals.

Like other budgeting software, LearnVest uses a “folder” method, where you can place expenses into appropriate categories like groceries, entertainment, or transportation. The website does try automatically place expenses where they should go, but sometimes you need to enter the folder yourself .LearnVest also breaks down your budget into fixed and flexible income so that you can easily see how much you have in each category.

What separates it from others in the category is the ability to set and track goals. Then, as you add money toward the goal, you can visually see your progress. The only downside is you can only set one goal per savings account, so you may have to get creative and combine multiple goals into one.

SUMMARY: LearnVest is great for people with multiple online accounts who want an easy way to see there expenses, savings, and debts in one place. While it is a good budgeting app, it’s not a great one, but you can set goals through the app and visual track them.

#3 YouNeedABudget
YouNeedABudget is an oldie but a goodie, and it’s constantly making best budgeting apps because if you have the time, it will teach you discipline.

One of the best and worst features of YouNeedABudget is that you have to manually enter every transaction. I’m sure by now the software could easily link to your bank accounts (it doesn’t) and get that information, but the real power of it is that you know exactly how much you’re spending each month. The catch is that you have to have the discipline to use it regularly.

If you can get in the habit of inputting your expenses, YouNeedABudget is one of the best monthly budgeting programs out there, helping you to break down spending by category and microcategory. It also automatically does the math and carryovers for you, so you just need to do line-by-line expenses.

Summary: YouNeedABudget is good for people who are discplined time-wise, but aren’t so budget-savvy. It’s also good for visual learners who need to see exactly how things break down, and for people who don’t want their account information directly linked to a program. It’s not so good for people who just want an overview of their finances or don’t have the patience to enter things item-by-item.

Did I miss your go-to finance app? Share your favorites (or least favorites) in the comments below!

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Maven Is Reinventing The Doctor’s Visit

Screenshot of Maven in the iTunes App store.

Screenshot of Maven in the iTunes App store.

You’ve been wanting to visit the doctor about [fill in the blank], but between work, family, pets, friends, chores, and whatever else, you haven’t been able to schedule an appointment. I’m all too familiar with the scenario, and now there’s a new telemedicine app here to help – Maven.

Maven is a new telemedicine app designed (mostly) by women for women. The app allows you to book and pay for an appointment with a qualified health and wellness practitioner from your smartphone. Then, you can virtually meet with your provider via video chat.

The app features a whole slew of doctors and other practitioners for whatever issue you’re having. Nurses, physicians, pediatricians, dermatologists, psychologists, and pregnancy specialists are just some of the professionals screened by Maven to answer your questions. That way, you can get peace of mind when your baby is sick for the first time or a prescription for the flu you suddenly came down with.

Maven is also focused on building relationships between practitioners and clients. In a video with some of their medical staff, one of the professionals said, “I find my patients like to text me with follow up questions and concerns after the visit.” I wish I could do that with my normal doctor.

Appointments can be booked for 10 minutes all the way to 1 hour. The app lets you know the cost up-front, and appointments start at $18.

Maven is currently only available for iOS devices (boo!). If you run Apple, you can download it from the App store, but if you’re running Android like myself, I guess we’ll just have to wait until Maven is released on Google Play.

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The Coolest Clock Is Wrapping Up Its Indiegogo Campaign

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Image courtesy of Coolest Clock.

Is the Coolest Clock the coolest clock? Perhaps. This customizable clock is a projection system and one of the more revolutionary time-keeping devices in recent years.

The Coolest Clock doesn’t look like much before it’s turned on – just a plain, white semicircle. But once it’s attached to a wall and powered up, the clock displays much more than just the time.

Using a projection system, the clock displays real-time information, including the weather, breaking news, calendar alerts, and social media updates. It also includes various, customizable displays that can also change size so that the clock adjusts to your needs and preferences.

The clock is controlled by a smartphone app, so that the display can be easily changed. It can also display information from your device, like your location or your latest photos to help you stay connected with loved ones when you’re away from home.

The Coolest Clock is wrapping up its Indiegogo campaign this week. It’s already been successfully funded (by far), but you have a few days left to pre-order the clock for $199, which is $100 off future retail prices. The clock is expected to ship at the end of 2015.

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Facebook Grows Up: How To Create Subpages For Your Kids

You can now save all the pictures of your kid in one special place on your Facebook page.

With scrapbook, you can save all the pictures of your kid in one place. Image courtesy of Facebook.

Facebook started out for fun-loving college students, but in a sign that the demographic is changing, the social network is adding a new setting called scrapbook.

Scrapbook allows partners to tag pictures of their little loved one and store them all on one page. The photos appear in their own section on your timeline, as a way for friends, family, and yourself to easily go back and look at pictures of your precious little humans.

Parents can create a scrapbook for anyone under 13, the age at which new users can register for their own Facebook page page.  You can create your own scrapbook or co-own them with a partner that you’re listed as in a relationship with on Facebook.

Scrapbooks are more selective than actual pages and have increased security settings.  For example, instead of just naming the tag after the person, you can also name it something creative, like initials or a nickname, if you don’t want to put your child’s name on Facebook. Additionally, only the partners who created the scrapbook can tag pictures of the child for now.

Although the setting is catered toward little humans, I imagine that Facebook stop won’t stop anyone from tagging pictures of a dog or other furry creature that is practically their child anyway.

How To Create Subpages For Your Kids
1. Click About on your profile page.
2. Click on Family and Relationships
3. There’s now an invitation to create a scrapbook. Click on Get Started.
4. (Facebook walks you through) Add your child as a relationship to you on Facebook.
5. (Facebook walks you through) Let your partner tag your child, too.

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mySugr Gamifies Diabetes Management

Image courtesy of mySugr.

Image courtesy of mySugr.

mySugr is a series of websites and apps that help you ‘tame your diabetes monster’. The company, many of whose employees have diabetes themselves, uses educational entertainment to help people learn about and manage their diabetes.

Their suite of products include:

  • A diabetes logbook aptly named Logbook that helps keep track of blood sugar, meals, and emotional states.
  • Importer uses your smartphone’s camera to automatically capture your data from your meter, and then save and transfer it to Logbook.
  • Type 2 diabetes online training course Academy, which uses videos, tips, and tricks to help those newly diagnosed with the condition to learn manage it.
  • Junior helps caregivers and children with diabetes to manage the condition together. As mySugr’s website says, “Monster feedback and rewards motivate and gladden little hearts.”

mySugr is based out of Austria and is still growing. In the past week it raised $4.8 million to continue to expand its product line and customer base.

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Fitness Friday: Should you have to be 21 to buy cigarettes?

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

A new study found that raising the minimum legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 25-, 21-, or even 19-years-old may be able to decrease the amount of people who continue smoking later in life.

The authors note that 90% of smokers report using their first cigarette before turning 19, and nearly 100% smoke for the first time before they are 26. This is likely because the parts of the brain responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and responding to peer pressure are still developing through young adulthood, and teenage brains are particularly susceptible to the effects of nicotine.

By pushing back the age at which teenagers and young adults have access to cigarettes, the estimated rate of young people who smoke dramatically decreases. Overall, the authors found that raising the minimum legal age could decrease the initial rates of smoking anywhere from 5% to 30% in people under 25.

The effect is most prominent when the minimum purchasing age is raised to 21. While 21-years-olds associate regularly with those over 25, they are generally not in the same social circles as those who are under 18. (Duh.) Therefore, younger people, whose brains are most susceptible to factors that can lead to them to start smoking, are less likely to encounter cigarettes at all.

Although 249,000 premature deaths in people born between 2000 and 2019 could be avoided by raising the minimum purchasing age to 21, don’t expect the rules to change everywhere soon. The federal government is not allowed to raise the minimum purchasing age over 18, so states and localities would have to be the ones responsible for the changes. Some cities, like New York, have already enacted laws making illegal for someone under 21 to purchase cigarettes.

To read the full study, which was conducted at the request of the FDA, visit report’s website. Read more Fitness Friday stories here.

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The Smart Home Powered By… Ikea?

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

Wireless charging at Starbucks. Image courtesy of Shinya Suzuki.

I own so much Ikea furniture that my apartment could be a picture in their catalog, but unfortunately none of my bazillion pieces of furniture can wirelessly charge my phone. That may change now that Ikea has announced a new commitment called Home Smart, which focuses on creating the home of the future.

The first functionality of Home Smart will be furniture that has built-in wireless phone chargers. The Swedish design company has created various lamps and bedside tables with integrated wireless chargers as well as docks that can work with existing furniture.

Wireless charging is still relatively novel, however, so don’t expect your smart phone to work as is with the chargers. There are currently two competing standards for wireless charging. The first is Power Matters Alliance, which is used by companies like Starbucks and AT&T, and the second is the World Power Consortium’s Qi charging standard, which Ikea’s furniture will be using.

Most businesses are reluctant to put wireless charging into their products until they see which charging standard catches on. Ikea is a member of the World Power Consortium, so it makes perfect sense that they are pushing for Qi.

Despite the literal power struggle, you can still retrofit your smartphone to work with the new furniture by buying a case, which Ikea will of course sell with their products. Or, if you have a Samsung Galaxy S6, there’s no need to buy a case because Samsung added both power standards to their new flagship phone.

The furniture must also be placed against near an outlet to get power to the wireless chargers, and wireless charging has been reported to be significantly slower than plugging your phone in the “old fashioned” way.

If you want one of Ikea’s affordable, sturdy, but self- (need to have wine close by while) assembling pieces of furniture, they go on sale mid-April in stores and online.

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Apple Watch’s fitness features unveiled


Image courtesy of Apple.

Apple revealed its new Apple Watch at the company’s March 2015 Special Event. With features such as a built-in heart rate monitor and personalized activity suggestions, the watch is much more than just an extension of your phone.

During your day, it displays critical fitness information – calories burned, brisk activity, and how long you’ve stood up. When you’re actively working out, it also provides metrics for popular fitness activities like walking, running, and cycling. It also includes a heart rate sensor, GPS, and  accelerometer to help you make the most of your day’s activity.

What impressed me most about the Apple Watch was its customizable activity suggestions. It uses your history to suggest personalized activity goals and reward milestones.

While the Apple Watch certainly has great fitness features, users will have to rely on third party apps for extended health and wellness functionality. For instance, their release did not mention that sleep or nutrition tracking would come standard, so users will have to get added apps if they want those features.

While other devices, particularly bands that exclusively track fitness, have these capabilities standard, Apple makes up for it with the watch’s seamless integration with iPhones and with expanded non-fitness functionality.

The Apple Watch is pricey compared to its competitors. (Although can you really say competitors when they don’t manufacture devices specifically for complete iPhone integration?) Their sport version goes for $349, the Apple Watch ranges from $549 to $1,099, and their luxury version starts at $10,000.

The Apple Watch will be released April 24, with pre-orders beginning on April 10.

As for whether its the right device for you, as I usually say, that’s a personal decision. If you want the best all around health monitor and aren’t preferential to iPhone integration, you’d probably be better off with a flagship wearable from Misfit, Jawbone, or Fitbit. However, if you want your device to train you for a marathon just as easily  as it unlocks your hotel room, then this may be better option.

Finally, if you’re an Android user like me, there are plenty of new high-end smart watches coming out this year that do just as much and cost less than the Apple Watch. I recommend taking a look at the new Pebble Time while it’s still on pre-sale.