What Did People Do Before Sunscreen?

Our modern-day society allows us to enjoy many convenient solutions. What did people do before these genius items were created to fix our problems? There were no microwaves around to lend a warming zap to last night's leftovers. Sending a message called for actually going to the post office. Yes, the times have certainly changed. When we think back to all of the history classes and documentaries we've seen, no one brought up what people did to protect their skin before sunscreen was invented.

It's worth looking into. Luckily, we know a lot more about the harm that ultraviolet rays can do to our overall health today than previous generations. The American Cancer Society wants everyone to know that overexposure to harmful UV rays can lead to premature aging, a weakened immune system, and cancerous growths. Centuries of people before us didn't have this useful information readily available at their fingertips. That being said, we're guessing sunburns have been a painful consequence of having fun in the sun since the dawn of time. 

Different cultures used different solutions

According to Block Island Organics, ancient civilizations including the Egyptians, Greeks, and Native Americans all used an invented form of sunscreen to protect their skin. The Egyptians used a blend of rice brand, jasmine, and lupine, while ancient Greeks slathered on olive oil.

Mental Floss shares that Native Americans used the extract from Tsuga heterophylla, a type of pine needle, to help prevent and soothe their sunburns. Back in the 1800s, historical records from Austria showed that tannin, a yellowish-brown organic substance found in plant tissue, was effective in protecting skin from harmful UV rays. Of course, the organic compound, zinc oxide, was used for centuries in the U.S. before sunscreen became readily available to the masses. The thick, white paste is still available for use today, though it has understandably become less popular in comparison to modern-day sunscreen formulas.

We're impressed by how creative many of these cultures were when it came to old-school sun protection. Safeguarding our skin from the Sun has certainly come a long way. It makes us curious to know what we'll be slathering on our skin over the next century.