GERMANY– Often referred to as the “father of indoor tanning,” German scientist Friedrich Wolff passed away in April at the age of 85.
In the early 1970s, Wolff was studying the beneficial effects of ultraviolet light on athletes when he noticed not only improved performance, but also an interesting side effect: tanned skin. His discovery led to development of indoor tanning equipment and lamp technology.
Realizing the appeal of a beautiful tan, Wolff founded the indoor tanning industry in 1975, when he and his brother JÖrg began selling their sunbeds and associated UV tanning lamps. Their initial motivation with the lamp development was to imitate the spectrum of sunlight and thus, counteract the symptoms of winter depression by stimulating vitamin D formation in the skin. With controlled exposure to the UV rays, sunbed users also had a way to “recharge their batteries” while enjoying a UV session.
“We mourn the loss of an empathetic man and relentless tinkerer who not only laid the foundation of our tanning industry, but was always committed to the responsible and professional use of his invention.”
Executive Board, Bundesfachverband Besonnung e. V.
By the late 1970s, Wolff’s idea that took root in Germany had spread around the world, establishing a global market for this new industry.
Wolff brought his European technology to the United States in 1978, setting the industry standard with specialized lamps and a reflector system that was ideally suited to indoor cosmetic tanning. His interesting theory and invention earned him the title, “the father of indoor tanning.”
According to his colleagues, Wolff never tired of talking about the biopositive effects of natural and artificial sunlight, giving many lectures throughout Germany and beyond its borders. At the same time, early on and as the owner of Freiburg-based Wolff System GmbH, he initiated research projects at prestigious university clinics with the aim of using the existing biopositive effects of tanning to alleviate skin diseases, such as psoriasis.
The Executive Board of Bundesfachverband Besonnung e. V. commented, “It is with great regret that we have received the news of the death of our founding member, Mr. Friedrich Wolff. We mourn the loss of an empathetic man and relentless tinkerer who not only laid the foundation of our tanning industry, but was always committed to the responsible and professional use of his invention.”
The motivation behind the Wolff brothers’ efforts was to contribute to a healthier lifestyle by eliminating vitamin D deficiencies and reducing the prevalence of skin diseases. Their work continues to help millions of people live better lives.
Since 1997, IST Magazine (formerly known as Island Sun Times) has been committed to the success of salon professionals, while promoting the growth of the tanning industry as a whole.
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