The History of Sunscreen (sunblock, suntan lotion…)

The History of Sunscreen (sunblock, suntan lotion…)

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Nowadays, thanks to pseudoscience and the
internet’s fantastic ability to spread it, all sorts of modern-day snake oil salesmen
are trying to cash-in on natural “historic” remedies. But you never hear of ancient people dying
of skin cancer what was their secret? Well, they died. Back when the life expectancy was 50 years
(if you were lucky), people didn’t live long enough for the decades it takes for skin
cancer to develop. But our ancestors were smart enough to know
the sun was dangerous. If you were rich, you stayed in the shade,
while all the poor people did the work in the sun. So, the paler you were, the better. Natural sun protecting concoctions go back
to the ancient Egyptians who used a mix of rice, lupine, and Jasmine to block out Ra’s
rays. The ancient greeks tried to stop Helios with
olive oil. The native Americans used sunflower oil to
block out their many many sun deities. BNow these didn’t work that well (but probably
smelled delicious). The only effective forms of sunblock were
wearing long clothes and fantastic hats. So, Pale continued to be in vogue, to such
extremes in Elizabethan times, when they used Ceruse, made from white lead and vinegar,
which not only blocked the sun’s rays, but dyed the skin white, and gave you lead poisoning Thanks to the ages of exploration and colonization,
white people spread throughout the world to latitudes they were never evolved to be on. No where is that more true than Australia,
which makes it no surprise that in the 1932, a south Australian chemist, Milton Blake created
a sun protective cream after 12 years of experimentation in his kitchen. Four years later, a chemist named Eugene Schueller
(who had also invented hair color and founded L’Oréal), refined Blake’s formula and
sunscreen hit the market. Unfortunately, neither of their formulas were
that effective. 1944, World War II, Benjamin Green, a pharmacist
and airman, used a substance called red veterinary petrolatum (or red vet pet) to protect himself
and friends from the sun. By 1946, a Swiss chemist named Franz Greiter
created Piz Buin Glacier Cream with a whopping spf of 2. Now, this is credited as the first real modern
Sunscreen and establishing SPF. Uh, it’s complicated and confusing. SPF means the amount of time it takes before
the skin burns with the protection, not how long the cream lasts on your skin. An SPF of 70 equals 12 hours of sun protection
(overkill. unless you’re in like iceland). But because of sweat/water, it still needs
reapplying at least every hour. Meanwhile, back from the war Benjamin Green
mixed Red Vet Pet with cocoa butter and coconut oil. It is this formula that would ultimately become
Coppertone and popularize Sunscreen to the masses. Now, rewind to the 1920’s. Pop icon Coco Channel accidentally falls asleep
in the sun on a boat on vacation. She embraces her tan, convincing everyone
it’s fashionable. And the tan is born. Now, Fast forward to the 1950’s. Thanks to the rise of beach culture around
this time, baby boomers start to believe that having the money to sit in the sun all day
is best. There is nothing “healthy” about a tan. Just hype. Unfortunately, thanks to generations of abuse,
in the 1970’s the ozone layer started to break down in time for all the new millennial
babies. Skin cancer rates shoot through the roof and
scientists started to research into UVA and UVB rays. (UVA rays are responsible for tanning, and
eventually aging your skin, and causing cancer. UVB rays are what primarily burns your skin
and causes more cancer.) But not even Baz Lurman could convince all
of us in the 90’s to wear sunscreen even as new better formulas have been released. So remember this, even if your ancestors blessed
you with darker skin or the power to “tan,” thanks to modern medical science (like vaccinations),
you will probably live a lot longer, so the sun’s 6 billion year old radioactive rays
have plenty of time to damage your skin’s dna, promote cancer, and make you age faster
than at the end of Indiana Jones. To stop this, even on cloudy days, wear a
full spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, and anything after 50, like 70 is not
doing enough to justify its higher price-tag.


  1. Why did you use pale skin white people as Egyptians? Egypt is in Africa jackass. The hottest continent in the world. There's no way you lying ass white people survived in Egypt.

  2. Could the sun burning poor people skin and pale people being the cool ones be the origin of skin color racism?

  3. Who exactly is the sun trying to kill?
    The more sunlight I get the better I feel. But of course I'm so-called Black, a man of hue, have large quantity of melanin. The sun is good to me.

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