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The History of How Sunscreen Came to Be

May 07, 2019

The History of How Sunscreen Came to Be

Sunscreen has been a necessary part of keeping our skin healthy and protected for decades. But what did people do before SPF protection was readily available? How did they protect their skin and where did proper skin protection first come from?


Generations past relied on all natural ingredients like jasmine and rice first used to protect skin by the Egyptians. Rice bran was known to absorb UV rays and jasmine was known for its ability to repair damaged skin.


One of the first sunscreens was created by a Swiss chemistry student who experienced one awful sunburn after climbing Mount Piz on the Swiss-Austrian border. He was determined to create a solution to prevent sunburns, so his Piz Buin Glacier Cream premiered in 1946 with SPF 2! (Nowadays, we stay far away from an SPF protection that low, but at the time, it was a start.)


Another individual who influenced how SPF (sun protection factor) came to be was Miami-based airman, Benjamin Green. He experienced the sun’s unrelentless wrath while on WWII missions and eventually created his version of sun protection — a thick paste to which he later added cocoa butter and coconut oil. That concoction came to be known as Coppertone!

Not long after, sunscreens began to pop up all over the U.S. market, giving manufacturers and scientists to continue to improve the formula. And the improvements were so very necessary as scientists also began to hone in on the actual effects of UV rays on skin. They found that they cause certain skin cancers and irreversible skin damage. So, in 1968, sunscreen containing avobenzone was approved, which only blocked UVA rays, not UVB, which of course, continued to cause problems as people continued to catch sunburns. UVB rays are the rays responsible for causing immediate sunburns, while UVA rays are longer wavelengths are responsible for causing long term damage to the skin.


It was now the 1990’s and a study conducted in Australia found that individuals who used modern sunscreen were still getting sunburn, and even melanoma — even more frequently than those who wore no sunscreen at all. Why? The formula was too weak to effectively block  UVA rays. So the next batch of sunscreens introduced UVA blockers, zinc and titanium oxide.

Even today, sunscreen formulas have improved and given us variations to choose from. Mineral sunscreen, non-mineral sunscreen, broad spectrum sunscreens and more — ones that come in creams or mists or sticks or powder! It’s safe to say, we have options when it comes to protecting our skin from the sun.


Because sun protection is of utmost importance for our skin, we created a day cream with SPF 15. It’s a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and it absorbs perfectly to wear under makeup or alone.


Wearing SPF protection is a no brainer. It protects against sun damage, potential skin cancers and melanoma and keeps skin looking youthful longer. Want to try our Ultra Light Day Cream with SPF 15? Click here!