Meet Guerry (pronounced “Gary”) Grune. Surfer. PhD (Chemical Engineering). He’s surfed the world’s meccas—Hawaii, Australia, Costa Rica, Japan. In fact, life for Guerry might have been one long (part-time) endless summer if it hadn’t been for three events that led him to create 3rd Rock—and change sunscreen history forever.
The first was the melanoma doctors found in 1992 on his long-time surfing partner—only 22 at the time. Seeing his friend’s surfing career cut short (though luckily, not his life) was Guerry’s first bitter taste of the unforgiving reality of overexposure to—or underprotection from—the sun.
Next came a surfing expedition to Australia in 1993 and what he didn’t find Down Under—American sunscreens. No Coppertone, no Banana Boat, no Neutrogena. What with that hole in their ozone layer making underprotected surfing tantamount to a death wish, the Aussies were serious about their sunscreens, and American brands didn’t cut it. They made their own—with titanium dioxide, a physical, inorganic sunblocking agent that doesn’t break down in the sun. True, they mixed it with loads of dangerous chemicals—later dubbed “endocrine disruptors”—but the important point was driven home. Now Guerry knew there was a better way.
Finally, in 2001, the Institute of Toxicology in Zurich, Switzerland, published research results flatly stating that methoxycinnanate, oxybenzone and benzophenone, agents commonly found in commercial sunscreens, were in fact endocrine disruptors—chemicals that interfere with the body’s delicate hormonal balance. In short, the sunscreens he’d been using for years weren’t safe after all!
His fire lit, Guerry began development that year—in his spare time, day job and all. First, he was after a formula that guaranteed full, long-lasting protection from UVA and UVB rays without endocrine disruptors or other toxic ingredients. But even that wasn’t enough. He wanted a product that was good for the skin—to make it healthier, younger, stronger.
Lucky for us, he had the mental tools and the drive. After all, this wasn’t just some dispassionate lab geek. He wasn’t ready to hang up his board. He had a vested interest in saving his skin!
Today, in his rare spare moments from 3rd Rock duties, you can still find Guerry hanging ten with the best of them at venues the world over—at the ripe old age of 50. And, understandably, feeling infinitely better about it than ever.
What’s in a name?
“The name ‘3rd Rock’ was kind of a family thing. Actually, it was the brainchild of my 13-year-old daughter Stephanie, who’d heard the earth called 3rd rock from the sun at school. ‘3rd Rock Sunblock . . . Hey, Daddy, it rhymes!’ But Stephanie got the connection. First, there’s the sun. And 3rd Rock products are formulated to meet the real suncare needs of our planet. Connection number two, of course, is the earth—as in earth-grown, earth-derived, coming from the ground. 3rd Rock Sunblock has everything we could pack into it that’s beneficial to the skin, and nothing that’s not.”