A History of Health

Discover Lifebuoy’s role in the evolution of infections, vaccines and germ protection.

Lifebuoy Royal Disinfectant Soap

Lever discovered carbolic acid as he sought the perfect formula for soap that could combat germs and still be affordable to everyone.

Pioneers Of Health (1796-1896)

1796
Edward Jenner pioneered vaccination

Edward Jenner, an English doctor, tested his theory that milkmaids who suffered minor cowpox never contracted smallpox by inserting pus from a cowpox pustule into a young boy. He was later proven to be immune and this became the first recorded vaccination.

1799
Humphry Davy discovered laughing gas for pain relief

Humphry Davy recognized the analgesic (pain-relieving) properties of nitrous oxide when he inhaled it while he had a toothache. He coined the term "laughing gas."

1847
Ignaz Semmelweis realised the importance of handwashing

Semmelweis noticed student doctors would often attend autopsies where fatal viruses prevailed before entering his maternity ward. After introducing handwashing standards fatalities dropped from 10% to 1%.

1890
Emil von Behring discovered antitoxins, which he used to develop diphtheria and tetanus vaccines

Bacteriologist, von Behring, showed it was possible to make animals immune against tetanus by injecting them with blood serum from another infected animal. Using this insight he created a vaccine against diphtheria.

1894
William Hesketh Lever launched Lifebuoy in the UK as the Royal Disinfectant Soap

Lever discovered carbolic acid as he sought the perfect formula for soap that could combat germs and still be affordable to everyone. He was bestowed the title Lord Leverhulme in recognition of his contribution to health and hygiene education.

Lifebuoy Lever's Health Soap

During WWI the brand encouraged those not fighting on the front to send Lifebuoy soap to soldiers to help keep them healthy, hygienic and best able to serve.

A Time Of War (1897-1949)

1897
Felix Hoffman invented Aspirin

Hoffmann was researching something to relieve his father's arthritis. He studied French chemist Charles Gergardt's experiments and created what we now know as aspirin.

1914
Lifebuoy soap sent to soldiers during WWI

During WWI the brand encouraged those not fighting on the front to send Lifebuoy soap to soldiers to help keep them healthy, hygienic and best able to serve. Through the role it played in safeguarding the health of soldiers Lifebuoy became something of a national hero.

1921
Mother, the Health Doctor

US campaign launches new character for Lifebuoy; Mother, the Health Doctor. Appealing to the increasing female audience she became Lifebuoy’s role model concentrating on care, health and future happiness of her children. The idea of the mother as the protector of family health continues to be a timeless theme for Lifebuoy.

1930
Campaign to fight B.O. (body odour) launches

People became increasingly interested in products to boost self-confidence so Lifebuoy developed a campaign which focused not just on fighting germs and keeping clean, but on preventing ‘body odour’ – first coining the phrase “B.O.”.

1930s
Teaching the Lifebuoy Way

Lifebuoy kicks off exciting educational programmes in schools showing children the importance of handwashing at key occasions including before mealtimes.

1939
Lifebuoy provides emergency washing facilities in Britain during WWII

When World War II broke out, Lifebuoy despatched Lifebuoy-branded vans to some of the most badly ‘blitzed’ areas in Britain equipped with hot showers, towels and soap for the inhabitants who no longer had access to basic amenities.

1945
First vaccine for influenza discovered

After decades of study, the first flu vaccine was tested in a mass immunisation of the US army. The vaccine was a proven success. Army personnel remained largely immune compared with unvaccinated Navy personnel who suffered regular bouts of infection.

Lifebuoy Red Toilet Soap

The Red Lifebuoy soap (85), which we sell, passed through the many varieties since it was fist introduced in 1933

A Period Of Discovery (1950-1999)

1950s
Looking good – smelling sweet

By the late 1950s new perfumed soaps had entered the market, targeting consumers seeking protection from Body Odour. To attract the female audience, who were put off by Lifebuoy’s carbolic smell, Lifebuoy introduced a new ingredient, Puralin, and changed the soap to a softer, more feminine coral colour.

1960
Treatment discovered to prevent millions of deaths from diarrhoea

Biochemist Kellogg Crane discovered how salt and sugar are absorbed by the body which lead to the development of oral rehydration therapy (ORT). ORT counters the loss of water and salts caused by diarrhoea and has saved millions of lives since its invention.

1961
MRSA discovered in the United Kingdom

MRSA was the first discovered ‘superbug’ – that has evolved a resistance to antibiotics making it very difficult to treat. Many antibiotics against MRSA are in testing however handwashing remains central to prevention.

1966
Lifebuoy gets minty

Lifebuoy Mint Refresher was introduced to help modernise the brand and explore new product sensorials such as cooling freshness.

1966
Invention of hand sanitizer

Trainee nurse, Hernandez discovered alcohol carried in a gel was a quick cleanser to kill germs and bacteria. Originally invented for use in hospitals, it is now a life-saver for mums everywhere.

1979
WHO proclaimed smallpox to be eradicated

The earliest evidence of smallpox is from the mummified body of Rameses V. The disease claimed over 300 million lives in the last century, but following vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries the disease was completely eradicated.

Lifebuoy Total 10 Bar Soap

Lifebuoy Total 10 Bar Soap contains and Lifebuoy patented ingredient, Active5. The rich, creamy lather of Lifebuoy Bar soap leaves you clean and fresh while the advanced formulation cares for your skin.

Celebrating Good health (2000-Present)

2000
Millennium Development Goals

In 2000, 189 nations promised to reduce poverty and improve the lives of millions by 2015. Lifebuoy’s ‘Clean Hands’ campaign has made a significant contribution to the goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds and prevent disease.

2005
Lifebuoy awarded ‘Citizen Brand’ accolade

In 2005 Lifebuoy was awarded a ‘Citizen Brand’ accolade in Indonesia in recognition of the work it has undertaken in hygiene education over the years, including community health projects with UNICEF and the Indonesia Doctor Association (IDA).

2007
Lifebuoy starts real-life clinical trial

Lifebuoy worked with 2000 Mumbai families in Unilever’s biggest real-life clinical trial to improve hygiene and family health. Half were provided with Lifebuoy soap along with regular education about the ‘Lifebuoy Way’ of hygiene and handwashing. At the end of the trial, five year old children suffered 25% fewer incidences of diarrhoea.

2008
First Global Handwashing Day held in over 75 countries and 23 Lifebuoy markets

Lifebuoy was one of the driving forces behind the first ever Global Handwashing Day, uniting with partners to educate and inspire children to adopt a healthy hand hygiene habit.

2012
India celebrates one year without Polio

More than a million volunteers assisted in a mass vaccination campaign and reduced the number of reported cases of polio from 741 in 2009 to the final reported case in early 2011. This astounding feat meant India was removed from the Polio Endemic Countries list.