Did you know?
This may not be the most exciting blog you’ve ever read, but did you ever wonder about the history of men’s sunscreen? The answer is likely “no,” which is actually what we’re hoping for…otherwise there would be no need for you to continue reading.
To be honest, and maybe we shouldn’t actually admit this, we’ve never really given much thought to the product’s origin either. It’s one of those things people tend to take for granted. Men’s sunscreen has been a thing since as long as they’ve been alive and they know when applied it helps prevent sunburns and other damage caused by the sun’s rays.
Don’t be fooled though. Not all men’s sunscreens are the same, but that’s a different topic for a different day.
So, anyway, while the team here at Jacket spends the majority of its time trying to improve sunscreen to deliver the peak performance and smooth, non-greasy look and feel men want, we figured a good history lesson would be good for us and (hopefully) fun for you.
Never stop learning!
Although actual sunscreen is a relatively new product — we’ll get to that in a moment — the concept of protecting your skin from the sun is anything but. In fact, there are records dating back thousands of years that indicate various ways in which individuals attempted to shield themselves from the heat and harm caused by the sun.
Olive oil and plant extracts, for example, were used by ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations and served as the original, albeit unofficial, men’s sunscreens.
Franz put out the fire!
There are varying tales about the actual invention of sunscreen, but there are a couple that are deemed more likely than others. The most commonly accepted story is that it was created by Franz Greiter, an Austrian chemistry student and later professor, in 1938. Franz was an avid hiker and mountain climber who was, unfortunately, prone to severe sunburns.
Unwilling to give up his hobby but equally uninterested in the pain and discomfort caused by sunburns, Franz set out to find a solution. At the age of 19, while still living in his parents’ house, Franz began experimenting. He would mix and match different ingredients and test each topical formula on his outdoor expeditions.
He settled on a formula he dubbed Gletscher Créme (also referred to as Glacier Cream). Using today’s sun protection factor (SPF) scale, it would have measured about a 2. A student at the time of his invention, Franz continued to use the men’s sunscreen and shared it with friends and fellow climbers who had also grown tired of repeated burning.
In 1946, Franz, by this time a professor, decided to bring his creation to market and formed a company called Piz Buin, along with his wife, Marga. The name Piz Buin had significant meaning to Franz. It was the site of what he deemed his most severe sunburn — a large mountain range on the Swiss and Austrian border. Franz credited that particular experience with motivating him to invent a protectant for his skin and, thus, men’s sunscreen was born.
While Franz is widely credited with inventing sunscreen, it’s worth noting that prior to his Gletscher Créme being made available to the European public, a pharmacist and U.S. Army pilot named Benjamin Green from Miami, Florida, developed his own sunscreen in 1944 and shared it with his fellow soldiers.
This is generally considered to be America’s introduction to men’s sunscreen.
In the midst of World War II, Green and thousands of other troops were stationed in the Pacific. The tropical location left the majority of the troops vulnerable to sunburns, and Green introduced them to a product called Red Vet Pet, which was a red-colored jelly-like substance. Soldiers would put the sticky substance on their skin, where it would serve as a buffer between them and the hot sun. It was applied when soldiers would be outside for extended periods of time and stocked in areas where sun exposure was high, such as on boats and life rafts.
Red Vet Pet was actually rather unpleasant but it was effective for those seeking a bit of shelter from the sun. Although Green had a patent on this product, it was purchased by the company Coppertone, where is was made more user-friendly, transformed into a cream, and introduced to the U.S. market as “coppertone Girl.”
Don’t forget your Jacket!
Sunscreen has evolved tremendously over the past 80 years. From its humble and practical beginning, a multi-billion-dollar industry has emerged. Endless sun-care products are now available and we, as a society, are more informed than ever about the dangers we face if we fail to properly apply sunscreen.
At Jacket, we clearly did not invent men’s sunscreen, but we are forever committed to innovating our product to ensure users are always comfortable in their skin. Our goal is to take the stress out of being outdoors, and allow you to immerse yourself in whatever activity you’re involved in.
Our lotion blocks both UVA and UVB rays and won’t leave you shiny or greasy. We not only keep you safe but also looking and feeling good — we know that matters, even if you won’t admit it.
And don’t hold back! Jacket can go as long as you can and won’t disappear with a little perspiration.
The point is, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to men’s sunscreens and protecting your skin. We appreciate that and recognized that to keep up with the Joneses, Greiters and Greens (see what we did there), your product line becomes incredibly vast and generic. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but we determined that our objective would be to identify a need and meet that specific need better than anybody else in the market.
Franz Greiter wanted to protect himself from the sun when climbing mountains.
Benjamin Green wanted to protect himself and his Army buddies from the sun when they were defending freedom and saving the world in the Pacific Ocean.
Jacket wanted to protect men from the sun with men’s sunscreen regardless of the activity or adventure, and we accomplished our mission.
We can’t change history, but we can write the future.