Zionsville Times Sentinel

Commentary

May 28, 2014

Slathering on the sunscreen, not drinking it

There was a lot of activity on the web last week because a company apparently developed a drinkable sunscreen. It appeared to be mostly a hoax, because even the website of the supposed developer didn't mention it.

So which direction did my wackadoodle brain go when it saw drinkable sunscreen? It did make several detours but actually ended up where one would expect: thinking about sunscreen.

According to the New York Times, sunscreen came to us through two channels during the mid-1940s. The first developer was a Swiss chemistry student by the name of Franz Greiter. He was climbing Mount Piz Buin in 1938 and got sunburned, then started working on a formula for sunscreen. His product was introduced to the market in 1946 under the brand Piz Buin. It was called Glacier Cream.

Also during the 1940s, Benjamin Green started using a greasy substance called red veterinary petrolatum, or red vet pet, on himself and fellow soldiers during WWII to keep them from getting sunburned. When he got home, he mixed it with cocoa butter and coconut oil to make it nicer to use. That product became Coppertone suntan cream.

The fact that sunscreen in some form has been around since the mid 1940s surprised me a little, because I don't remember having actual sun protection until I was about 10, some 30 years after the product became available.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.

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