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The Evolution of Sun Protection: A Historical Perspective

Two ladies outdoors discussing sun protection

A brief History of Sun Protection

The evolution of sunscreen spans centuries, beginning with ancient civilisations using natural substances like rice bran, jasmine, and olive oil to protect their skin from the sun’s rays. In more recent history, the concept of sunscreen as a commercial product emerged in the early 20th century with the development of sun-blocking creams and lotions. These early formulations primarily focused on preventing sunburn, and their effectiveness was limited compared to modern sunscreens.

The 1930s saw the introduction of sunscreens with ultraviolet (UV) filters. By the 1940s, the correlation between sun exposure and skin cancer had been established, prompting further research and innovation in sunscreen development. In the latter part of the 20th century, advancements in sunscreen technology led to the creation of broad-spectrum formulations that offered protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

The timeline

1928: The first published paper associating UV radiation & skin cancer in a study with mice. ( research by Dr. G. M. Findlay)

1935: The first tanning oil is developed with UV radiation-filtering properties. (by Eugene Schueler, founder of L’Oréal) 

1938: Franz Greiter is sunburned during a climb up Mt. Piz Buin which inspires the Swiss chemist to create the first sunscreen nearly a decade later in 1946.

Sun Protection advancements

1962: Greiter was finally credited with inventing the sun protection factor (SPF) rating. His original sunscreen had a SPF rating of 2!

1967: Water-resistant sunscreens were beginning development.

As public awareness of the importance of sun protection grew, sunscreen products evolved to include higher sun protection factors (SPF), more water-resistant formulas, and improved skin-friendly ingredients. Additionally, innovations such as moisturisers with built-in sun protection, and reef-safe formulations have become prominent in the sunscreen market.

In recent years, the focus on sustainable and eco-friendly sunscreen options has gained momentum, reflecting a broader societal shift towards environmentally conscious practices.

Scientific research, technological advancements, and changing consumer preferences continue to influence the evolution of sunscreen, leading to the development of more effective, cosmetically elegant, and environmentally friendly products.

For FAQ’s on sun protection visit the FAQ page: https://oceanfreedom.com/faqs/

For a details on the sunscreen walk through history visit:  NIH

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