The History of Sunscreen
Sunscreen has become an indispensable part of our everyday lives. It’s not only instrumental in preventing painful burns, but an essential asset in battling sun damage, skin cancer and other serious sun-related illnesses, no matter how old you may be.
But where the heck did sunscreen come from?
The sun has been around, well, forever, but sunscreen didn’t come to be until the 1900s. Before then, our ancestors relied on all-natural ingredients, such as the jasmine and rice concoctions utilized by those brilliant ancient Egyptians. Rice bran was a pretty nifty mix since it contains gamma oryzanol, a UV absorbent. They also slathered on jasmine, which is effective at repairing damaged skin.
1930s: Milton Blake
One of the first known sunburn prevention creams was created by Aussie Milton Blake. It took him 12 years of experimentation in his kitchen, but the dedication paid off, and he began producing and selling the cream, which is still around today.
1940s: Hello SPF
A Swiss chemistry student by the name of Franz Greiter decided that sunburns really suck after suffering a particularly bad one after climbing Mount Piz on the Swiss-Austrian border. This inspired his expedition against sun damage, and in 1946, Piz Buin Glacier Cream was born. The original had a whopping SPF of 2, but hey, it’s a start and its come a long way. Greiter is credited with developing the first modern day sunscreen and establishing SPF (sun protection factor) as the standard for measuring sunscreen effectiveness.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Green, an airman and pharmacist from Miami, Florida, was experiencing the sun’s wrath while flying on WWII missions, so he whipped up his own thick sun paste dubbed Red Vet Pet. The stuff was effective, but nasty to wear. Green added some cocoa butter and coconut oil to the mix and soon after he invented Coppertone.
1960s: Sunscreens Begin to Appear on the U.S. Market
They were thick, oily, washed off easily and didn’t do much in terms of protecting from the sun, but sunscreen had busted through to U.S. store shelves and improvements were quickly on the rise.
This was a crucial time of discovery as scientists began to really look at the effects of ultraviolet rays. Tests on lab mice showed that ultraviolet-B range light is what initiates most skin cancers, with ultraviolet-A rays being the promoters. In 1988, the FDA approved avobenzone in sunscreen, a UVA-only filter.
With sun research delivering a bounty of results in the labs, one study in Australia found that people who used sunscreen seemed to still have a high prevalence of melanoma, even more than those who didn’t use sunscreen. This was due to the fact that sunscreen was still incredibly weak when it came to blocking UVA rays. This brought on a fresh wave on sunscreens with the introduction of UVA blockers, ultra micronized zinc and titanium oxide.
Sunscreen has come a long way, but this is due to the knowledge we have gained from studying the devastating effects of the sun on our skin. Therefore, though it is helpful to apply sunscreen, it cannot be relied upon completely for protection. Covering up with a hat and breathable clothing, staying hydrated and in the shade and avoiding the sun during peak hours is vital for damage prevention.
Panama Jack has got you covered with their broad line of sun care products. The Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 is sweat- and water-resistant to combat the sun’s harmful rays while you’re out and on the go.