Have you ever wondered how we became aware of the need to protect our skin from the sun?

 

People have protected themselves from the sun for centuries; if not by simply staying indoors, then by adopting headgear and long flowing robes. As advocates for daily UV protection and the use of the right level of SPF for your particular skin type, we have been researching some of the ancient ways of sun protection.

 

Egypt

The ancient Egyptians were as keen to ward off sunburn and damage to delicate skin as we are today. They used potions including rice bran extracts in the sunscreen formulas. Today, we know that rice bran contains gamma oryzanol, which has UV-absorbing properties. The Egyptians also used jasmine, which has been discovered to be effective in healing cell damage.

 

Greece

It is known that the ancient Greeks rubbed olive oil into their skin; while it would certainly have made skin soft and supple, we now know that it was anything but efficient as a sun-protecting technique! They would, amongst other things, mix it with sand and rub it all over their skin to protect themselves during the Olympic Games. They used other potions too, including a paste made from crushed castor seeds (fun fact: castor oil actually has a SPF of about 6!). Like the Egyptians, they used jasmine as well, so we can safely surmise that their soft, supple skin also smelt good!

 

Middle East

In more recent times, pale-skinned people from privileged, non-labouring classes reverted to the covering-up methods used in Arabian countries for millennia. Genteel ladies would wear gloves, scarves and hats, and use parasols to protect themselves from sun exposure, often white to reflect the sunrays.

 

Fast-forward a few decades, and scientists started to understand that the ultraviolet wavelengths in sunlight not only cause heat, but also sunburn. From there, numerous small steps and failed experiments eventually led to the various forms of sun screen and sun block we now know and use on a daily basis.

 

Spare a thought for the gently frying but fragrant-smelling ancient Greeks next time you’re applying Ombrelle Complete SPF 60 Lotion on your Greek island beach vacation!