What is sun cream?

Some sun creams enhance the tan while protecting the skin.

Sun cream is a topical product that protects from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun. Applied to the surface of the body, sun cream has been a popular product since the mid-1900s as a primary protection against sunburn and other negative consequences of solar radiation. The product comes in various forms and brands and in spray, gel, and lotion types, and is also known as a tanning lotion or sunscreen. With three main types of protection, sun cream is an essential product for many exposed to the midday sun for long periods, being most commonly seen on summer beaches.

Regular use of a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) rating can help prevent skin cancer.

From small tubes or spray bottles, sunscreen should be evenly distributed over the exposed body. A quarter-sized dose of cream can reasonably cover the average adult with enough sun cream to cover exposed areas. Many regular sun creams should be applied every two to three hours for maximum effectiveness, and should be reapplied after swimming or getting wet. In the 2000s, modern sun creams were developed to resist water and sweat.

Sun cream has emerged as a popular product for a suntan-obsessed culture.

Sun cream first emerged as a popular preventative method against sunburn in the 1930s when Franz Greiter developed the first sun cream lotion, which later became Piz Buin’s original product and product line. Twenty-two years after developing the first primitive creams, Greiter was responsible for the concept behind what is now known as SPF, or Sun Protection Factor. The SPF guide was established to measure the strength and effectiveness of different sun creams with different skin types. The SPF helped determine the amount of cream needed and the level of protection offered.

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More recently, sunscreen has emerged as a popular product for a suntan-obsessed culture. With the increasing risk of skin cancer, sun cream has become an essential product in the United States, although it has not become as prevalent in Europe. Sun cream has been proven to combine organic compounds to absorb ultraviolet rays above the skin; reflect and scatter ultraviolet light on the surface; or make a combination of the two through organic and inorganic particulates.

Recommended by the American Cancer Society, sun creams come in several variations, including anti-wrinkle creams. Although the main purpose of sun creams is to protect from the sun, some creams are designed to protect the skin while using the sun’s rays to enhance the tan at the same time. These creams should not be confused with tanning lotions or creams, which do not protect from the sun.

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