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Artifact Friday: Sunburn Prevention

Skin is sensitive and as we approach the sunnier seasons an important subject is sunscreen. While the history of protecting one’s skin from the sun has existed since the Ancient Egyptians used jasmine, rice bran, or lupine extracts, it was the late 1800s when the negative effects of prolonged exposure to the sun were being realized. Sunblock began to be developed to protect skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays after the discoveries. The Army Air Force conducted an investigation into protective substances to prevent sunburn in 1942. They concluded that dark red veterinary petroleum possessed all the qualities they needed, waterproof, not toxic, and inexpensive. Then in 1944 airman and pharmacist, Benjamin Green created the first form of sunscreen after getting burned while flying. He used a greasy substance called Red Vet Pet to protect himself and other soldiers throughout the second world war. The substance is heavy and unpleasant on the skin acting as a physical barrier between the skin and the sun. To appeal to the public he adds cocoa butter and coconut oil creating a Coppertone suntan lotion. The adorable Coppertone girl was designed in 1956 and the Coppertone cutie was a real-life 3-year-old girl named Cheri who posed for her mom, Joyce Ballantyne, to draw her.