Protecting skin from the sun’s rays has always been a major concern for everyone. Most of us understand the importance of wearing sunscreen in the hot summer months, but sunscreen should be a year-round preventive measure.

History of Sunscreen

The use of sunscreen dates back to the ancient Egyptians who used extracts of rice, jasmine, and lupine plants. Greeks used olive oil on their face and bodies as a means of sun protection.

Sources vary about who invented sunscreen, however many definitively believe that an Australian chemist Milton Blake was the first to experiment with sunblock cream.

The founder of L’Oreal cosmetics, however, was the first to successfully develop a sunblock formula in 1936.

In the United States, one of the first sunscreen products was invented for the army by pharmacist Benjamin Green in 1944. This product came about because of the hazards of sun overexposure to soldiers at the height of World War II.

Other important dates in sunscreen history include the invention of zinc cream in 1940.

The 5Ws And 1H Of Sunscreen

The Skin Cancer Foundation has conducted significant research into the effects of sun exposure on people’s skin. TABIIB answers the basic questions that everybody has regarding the importance of sunscreen:

Who Should Wear It?
Preferably, everybody. The CDC recommends that everyone (except babies under 6 months old) should use sunscreen daily, even those who don’t tan easily. Sun damage is cumulative and increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

What Is The SPF To Use?
The best sunscreen to use depends on what your average day looks like. Sunscreens that have SPF 15 or higher are best used indoors; SPF 30 or higher if you spend most of your time outdoors.
Ensure that the kind you pick is effective and works with your skin.

When To Use It?
Sunscreen should be applied every day. The best practice is to apply at least 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every 2-3 hours throughout the day. Applying sunblock before and after swimming or exercise is also a good habit to have.

Where To Apply?
It should be applied over all exposed skin.  UV light can penetrate windows and cloud cover, which is why it’s important to wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy.

Why Do We Use It?
Sunscreen, by acting as a barrier, reduces overall UV exposure and lowers your risk of skin cancer and sun damage. However, it’s important to remember that sunscreen alone is not enough for complete sun protection. You should also consider other sun safety measures such as sun-safe clothing and drinking enough water.

How Much To Use?
A nickel-sized amount is recommended. Many people use less than the suggested amount and that reduces their level of sun protection.

The Benefits Of Sunscreen

Sunscreens work by absorbing or scattering UV rays and preventing them from reaching DNA and other skin components that can be damaged by UV radiation.
Since sunscreens are applied topically, they work as a physical barrier against the UV rays that would otherwise harm your skin. Along with protecting your skiing from the sun, sunscreen is beneficial in the following ways:

1) Lowers risk of skin cancer

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, your risk of contracting melanoma doubles if you’ve had more than five sunburns in your life.  The way to decrease your risk of the same is to apply sunscreen every day – even when it’s not sunny outside. 

2) Prevents premature aging of the skin

Sun damage on skin due to UV rays results in photoaging – which is characterized by a leathery look – and a breakdown in collagen. Collagen is the main protein that binds the structure of the skin together; a breakdown of this protein can lead to signs of wrinkles and aging.

3) Keeps your skin tone even

In addition to slowing the aging of skin, sunscreen also helps prevent brown spots and discolorations that are caused due to sun overexposure. 

4) Protects you from more than sunburn

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are two health conditions that can arise due to extended sun exposure. Sunscreen, in conjunction with staying hydrated, can help you avoid these issues. Not applying it on high-temperature days spells trouble for more than skin – it can also cause nausea, cramps, and dizziness. 


It’s never too late to start integrating sun-safety into your daily skincare routine. If you want to understand more about your skin and its specific requirements, consult a dermatologist on TABIIB today.

I am a writer, covering the sprawling expanse of healthcare, among many other things that I love writing on. I write on healthcare because I want to do my part in informing people about the health industry, When I am not blogging about research and medicine, I enjoy reading, playing squash and backpacking around the world.

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