We talked about the beginnings of the Sunscreen Company and how you were founded to create sunscreen safe enough for pregnant women to use. Tell us more…
The idea for The Sunscreen Company took root back in 1995 when my father, a high risk OB/GYN, was asked by one of his pregnant patients whether her sunscreen was safe to use in pregnancy. This was before the advent of clean beauty, where it was more widely recognized that ingredients that we apply to our skin could be absorbed into our body. He subsequently detected trace levels of the filter oxybenzone in a fetal-maternal blood sample and this inspired the whole investigation into the safety of sunscreens. In working with his wife and my mother, Dr. Sharyn Laughlin, who is a practicing dermatologist in Canada- they developed with our chemist some of our first mineral sunscreen formulas. We use the idea of ‘safe enough for a pregnant woman’ as a litmus test for safety. We are so careful about what we use for expectant mothers on our skin so we figured if we could make something that meets that threshold for safety, then we all be comfortable using it every single day, from head to toe and on our kids.
How does having mineral sunscreen with high zinc oxide content guide the type of products you produce?
We never want to sacrifice the effectiveness of our SPF formulas so we only formulate with high concentrations of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a great filter and really the only option for protecting against UVA if you want to stick to mineral based ones. However, it’s what we consider an ‘inefficient’ one because you have to use a high concentration to get the required protection you need. You are ideally looking for 15-25% zinc oxide as your active ingredient. We’ve gone even further in our research and development and patented a proprietary way of making zinc oxide even more protective. Our formulas therefore have higher UVA Protection Factors than other mineral options.
What surprises you about this field?
There is a ‘tribe’ of people who love sunscreen and are so curious and excited about everything to do with them. We get some of the most in-depth questions in our DM’s- anything from particle size, to whether we use aggregates versus agglomerates etc. I love that we can go as deep into the science as anyone wants. On the flip side, there is still something like 80% of people that know they should wear sunscreen but don’t. We can make the most technically perfect product but if we do not make something that is easy, fun and aesthetic to use then we will not ever convince that 80% to make a habit of regular sunscreen use. I love the challenge of maintaining that balance.
You launched Venus Williams’ “Eleven by Venus” sunscreen with Credo as a partner. How has it been received and what was unique about this project?
Venus Williams is the perfect spokesperson for a sunscreen line and we feel so blessed that she and Credo chose to partner with us on this. We knew when we started the project that we had to hit three essential targets in order to make this launch a success. We had to make something that would truly look good on all skin tones. We had to meet Credo’s ingredient and sustainable packaging criteria, which are stringent but also some of the most well thought-out guidelines in the clean beauty space. Finally, we had to make sure they also met our internal criteria for effectiveness and protectiveness. We could not sacrifice any of those elements and have this project be a success. From what I’ve seen of the response, I think we nailed all three components, which is so rewarding to see!
What’s next for the Sunscreen Company?
Our strategy has always been to find an SPF that exists in the industry that people love for its texture or application but then re-make it according to our standards. We have our eye on some goodies and our brilliant partner and chemist is already starting to play with some prototypes. Think something glowy. Think something with colour. We are going to continue to create options so that everyone will find an all mineral SPF they love to use every day.
For more on The Sunscreen Company, go here.