9 Things About Sunscreen You May Not Already Know

Sunscreen has been around for a long time.

Sunscreen has been around for a long time. Ancient Greeks used olive oil, and Egyptians had pastes of rice and jasmine, but it wasn't until 1936 when French chemist and founder of L'oreal Cosmetics, Eugune Schueller introduced his sunscreen product. Two years later, Franz Greiter, an Austrian scientist, introduced Glacier Cream as a sun protection cream. Greiter also created the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating system which became the universal standard for measuring the effectiveness of sunscreen.

In the 1940s, the United States Army and Air Force asked the American Medical Association for assistance with sun block protection for the military serving in the South Pacific during World War II. It was at that time that a Florida physician named Ben Green invented Red Vet Pet, a red colored petroleum jelly like gel. He later perfected the formula which became the first commercially mass-produced sunscreen in the United States, Coppertone.

Everybody's Free to Use Sunscreen. Baz Luhrmann's popular 1997 spoken word song remix of Rozalla's 1991 club hit "Everybody's Free (To Feel Good) was based on Chicago Tribune's Mary Schmich's column on what her ideal graduation address would be like. Schmich was inspired for what advice to offer from seeing a young woman sunbathe and hoping she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what Schmich herself did not do at that age.

Sunscreen dispensers are popping up throughout the country. Thanks to the efforts of the Richard David Kann (RDK) Melanoma Foundation and its avid supporters, automatic sunscreen dispensers called "Ray" can be found in outdoor areas where sun can be excessive. Beaches in Avalon, NJ and the Philadelphia Phillies ballpark are 2 such places where a free dose of 30 SPF sunscreen is dispensed. For more information on how your area can become a Sun Smart American City, call 561-655-9655 or go to melanomafoundation.com

Darker skin tones need sunscreen. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with dark skin may not sunburn as easily as those with fair skin, but they still are at risk for damage. People with dark skin, hair, and eyes can still get skin cancer, particularly under the fingernails and toenails, and the palms of hands and soles of feet where skin is lighter.

No sunscreen is waterproof or sweatproof. Sunscreen manufacturers can no longer make labeling claims that sunscreens are 'waterproof' or 'sweatproof.' Instead, the FDA now requires 'water resistant' and 'very water resistant' sunscreens to maintain their SPF value for 40 to 80 minutes of sweating or swimming, respectively. As soon as you jump in the pool or begin to sweat, the sunscreen on your skin begins to diminish, and products need to be reapplied as soon as possible.

A little dab of sunscreen wll not do. It takes about a golf ball size (one ounce) of sunscreen to cover arms, legs, neck, and face of the aveage adult, yet people skimp on sunscreen using only 25% to 50% of the required amount. Applying 30 minutes before going outdoors, and then every 2 hours (or sooner if swimming or sweating) is the norm for effective protection.

Sunscreen protects skin art. Tattoo inks are not lightfast, meaning they fade. UV rays break down the chemical structure of the pigments and degrade them. Without sunscreen, this fading process occurs even faster, particularly with yellow and red tattoo inks. The best sunscreen for a tatto is the same as what you would use for the rest of your body. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least a 30 SPF. A sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protections, meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB rays is also preferred.

Furry family members need sunscreen, but not yours. Pet's thin coats and pale noses may need sunscreen, however, make sure the product is specially formulated for them. Zinc oxide, for example, is effective as a sunscreen for humans, but it's toxic for dogs. Likewise, sunscreen products that contain salicylate related ingredients can mean an emergency visit to the vet for your cat.

Sunscreens do expire. According to FDA, sunscreen is formulated to remain effective for a least 3 years. Storing sunscreen in direct sunlight or in a hot car will accelerate its breakdown. Sprays that come in metal cans can also heat up in the sun making active ingredients less effective. Interestingly, not all sunscreetn products have a printed expiration date on them. If in doubt, throw it out.