IntroductionToday in modern life, people are always concerned with how they look. For example, a woman puts on make up so she can look prettier. Both males and females use some sort of medicine to help with acne. Ladies and gentlemen, what if I told you that there is something even more important out there than those two things that will help your skin stay healthy for a long long time. My friends, what I am talking about is sunscreen. Yes sunscreen, the object you use to literally to “screen the sun.” Seriously though, the use of sunscreen is vital today for your health. Many people have contributed to the making of sunscreen, which in no doubt has saved many lives up to this day.Figure 1
Prior to the discovery of ultraviolet light, scientists believed that sunburn was caused by heat damage. However, scientists in the 19th century and early 20th century made great advances in determining the nature of light and its effects on the human skin.
Johann Wilhelm Ritter of Germany discovered ultraviolet rays in 1801. His experiments were based on previous work by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, who published his results in a 1777 study. In 1820, scientists sought to answer why the darker skin of people in hot climates was better protected than the skin of white people, even though black absorbed more heat. They experimented by covering one hand with a black cloth. The exposed hand burned, although the covered hand registered a higher temperature. They concluded that darker skin absorbed heat and protected the skin. Karl Eilham Hausser und Wilhelm Vahle reported in 1922 that sunburn in human skin is caused by the part of the ultraviolet spectrum between 280 and 315 nanometers. This led to the first commercially available sunscreen, produced in 1928 in the United States. In 1962 Franz Geitner found a way to measure a product's ability to block ultraviolet rays, known as the Sun Protection Factor, or SPF. Sunscreens were soon widely available, although not widely used.
Sources are not clear as to who invented the first sunscreen, but most acknowledge that Milton Blake, a South Australian chemist, first experimented creating a sunburn cream in the early 1930s, however he was unsuccessful. Eugene Schueller, The founder of L’Oreal cosmetic company, found success where Blake did not and is often credited for inventing the first sunscreen in the 1930s. Other sources name Austrian scientist Franz Greiter as the inventor of sunscreen because of his invention named Glacier Cream. Greiter was inspired to create a product in 1946 to protect the skin from sunburn due to a burn he received eight years prior. Even others attribute the invention of sunscreen to Benjamin Green. In the 1940s, Green, a Florida physician, prepared a red jellylike substance in his own kitchen and then tried its effectiveness on his own bald head. Green was interested in protecting the WWII soldiers stationed in the South Pacific. After the war, Green continued to experiment with his sunscreen formula until he created what became known as Coppertone suntan cream in 1944.
Scientists today continue to search for more effective ways to protect the human body against the sun. Sunscreens typically use benzophenones such as oxybenzone, or other chemicals like dibenzoyl methane, to absorb some types of UVA radiation. One goal however, is to develop a sunscreen pill. Significant attention has been given to a substance called astaxanthin, found in red ocean plants and animals, such as salmon. Astaxanthin is considered the most effective protection against free radicals found to date in nature. Recently, clothing companies have started to make clothing to help prevent sun damage. Some fabrics, such as cotton, do not effectively block the sun’s rays. There are now complete clothing lines that are sold with SPF ratings.
This article talks about many different things about sunscreen. The author talks about the history of sunscreen and how scientists were curious as to why the skin was affected by ultraviolet rays. The author talks about the many inventors/contributors to sunscreen from around the world. The author also discusses Sun Protection Factor (SPF), which is the measure of affectiveness an a certain sunscreen.
1. Protecting your skin, the History of Sunscreen. (2009) Retrieved October 13, 2010 <http://www.randomhistory.com/2009/04/28_sunscreen.html>
2. Beck, Steven The History of Sunscreen Skincare (2010) Retrieved October 13, 2010 <http://heartspring.net/skin_care_skin_cancer_sunscreen.html>