Sunscreen Chemistry

Aunt and Uncles Shore House

As I wake up early in the sleepy days August slowly coming to, I smell the saltiness of the oceans breeze and feel the stickiness of a humid day. The sun peaks through the small boxed shape window, of which I can only see half way through from my top bunk. The fan osolates slowly making the every so familiar hum that breaks the morning's silence. As I think of what is going to happen that day, my heart starts to race. Looking at the digital clock I quickly, but quietly slip out of my top sheet, feeling the burber under my feet and get dressed. I put on my favorite sea foam colored one piece with glimmering flecks and a large white terrycloth cover up that hits me just past the fold of my knee. I walk slowly out of my bedroom checking the other rooms as I pass by. No one is up yet. As I reach the kitchen I pull a chair close to the cabinet to get a cup for my orange juice. As the chair slides across the floor, I hear the springs of my parents’ bed squeaking. My father is up. I jump off the chair and slide it back as if it never moved, yet I have the evidence clearly in my hand.

"What are you doing?" he asked me with a deep and scratch voice

"I am getting a cup for my orange juice." I replied

"What time is it?

"It's already 7:01, you told me I could get out of my room at 7:00, see... it's 7:01"

"Oh, yeah I did.... Well let's not wake everyone. How about we go out to the garage to pick out the fishing poles"

A huge smile rushed over my face, my dad smiled back and we walked out through the sliding glass door onto the deck.

We trolled the boat through the bay off of the head of the Barnegat in the midmorning before the sun was at its peak. I put my rod in the water with squid I baited myself; letting the line go until a sudden tug was felt, knowing that I hit the bay floor. I loved to fish with my dad. We would talk and talk. He would bring subs from the local sandwich shops and cans of soda. I never got to drink soda except when we fished. He always made me feel special teaching me his secrets of "catching the big ones" and of course making sure that I had my sunscreen so my mom didn't yell at him. I hated wearing it. I always felt so greasy, so slippery. But he promised my mom, so I usually had it on. Unfortunately that day, he forgot to bring it. We caught 3 big fluke that day and nasty sunburn. My mom was furious and I in pain. Why did the sun do that to me and why are mothers always right?

I am sure that almost everyone has a story like this one. We have all been caught out in the sunshine, feeling the warmth and forgetting to protect our most precious organ, our skin. Have you ever thought what actually is protecting us. How and why does it work? By clicking on the following links you can learn almost everything you ever wanted to know about the sun and our protection against it.

Sunscreen Chemistry
Sunscreen Versus Sunblock
Vitamin D Synthesis
The Discovery of Sunscreen Active Ingredients
Skin Cancer
A Portrait of the Sun  SPF
What to Learn More?
Ultra-Violet Radiation
Lesson Plans