The History of Sunscreen (sunblock, suntan lotion…)admin
In this video, we rundown the history of sunscreen. Take it from one of the whitest individuals in the world, the sun is trying to kill us. Learn about humanity’s battle with UV rays and the invention of sunscreen, which is totally safe, no matter what things on Facebook may tell you.
(FACT CHECK: THE SUN IS 4.5 BILLION YEARS OLD. WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN TO THE BRAIN WHEN READING FROM A PROMPTER.)
Don’t miss history!
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Humans have always worshipped the sun. It brings us light, energy, food, but really – its trying to kill us.
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 4.6 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.