The first commericially availabe sunscreen was marketed in the United States as early as 1928 as the result of a study published by two scientists (Hausser and Vahle) which proved that ultraviolet radiation caused damage to skin which could be easily prevented by blocking absorption of these rays. However, sunscreen did not become widely used until an ancillary marketing and education campaign was undertaken by Austrian Dr. Franz Greiter in 1962.
So I would hazard to guess that while sunscreen was available in the 1950s, it was widely ignored until about a decade later.
According to this article, sunblock was not introduced into the market until the late ’60s. Labeling the SPF onto sunblock became the norm in 1972. Up until the late ’80s, however, sunscreen was only designed to shield the skin from UV-B rays. By the early ’90s, formulas were improved to also protect against UV-A rays.
Though these products were not introduced until the ’60s, the first sunscreen was invented in the ’30s by Eugene Schueller, the founder of L’Oreal.
Skin protecting remedies have been around for as long as people have been around. There have even been recorded findings of Greeks using a mixture of sand and oil as sunblock. So although the modern science of sunblock may have only surfaced in the recent decades, the idea behind it has been around for a while.
Although it wasn’t called sunblock, there were products available to protect your skin from the sun. A zinc oxide formulation called ‘Glacier Creme’ was sold by outdoor recreation retailers such as Recreational Equipment for use by mountain climbers and skiers in the late 50’s and early 60’s.
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