When I was growing up, it was called Suntan Lotion and pretty much the only brand was Coppertone. Their logo of the little girl with her bathing suit being pulled down by the dog, revealing her tan line, seemed pretty naughty and a bit verboten to me as a seven-year-old in 1971. Coppertone was always a sponsor of game shows like What's My Line and Truth or Consequences. I don't remember using Coppertone at home though I think we had a bottle of it which seemed to last forever and may still be squirreled away someplace at my folks' house. To me, Coppertone was something which very rich people used to deepen their tans as they lay on the beaches of Waikiki or beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico! Those were the two places where all of the big game show winners went back in those days ... along with a lifetime supply of Coppertone. (The not-so-big winners received the home version of the game.)
Today, Wal Mart has about 30 feet of shelf space, top to bottom, devoted to sunscreen. I worry a lot about having enough on my bald head whenever I am outside. (I am starting to get age spots on my head, by the way, reminding me of Dr Pinkerton my pediatrician when I was little. He had more hair than I do but he had a lot more age spots. And he had giant seaweed-filled fish tanks in his examination rooms.)
How did we make the change from one brand of Suntan Lotion to forty zillion brands of Sunscreen? I'm not sure. Al Gore probably says it's from global warming. I would tell our son that it's all about marketing. But, this I know, those days when a little girl's tan line seemed naughty were indeed simpler. I may have to go buy an old-fashioned bottle of Coppertone and let it sit around in our bathroom cabinet for 40 years, just so our son will see and remember it. I hope I can find a bottle with a picture of the girl on it.