When Supergoop founder Holly Thaggard's close friend was diagnosed with skin cancer, she made it her personal mission to learn about the disease — and then set out to formulate innovative products that could help prevent it. The result was a "wardrobe" of sun protection options in a variety of formulas spanning lotions, creams, sprays, oils and powders that were made from "clean" ingredients and catered to every preference. With Supergoop, Thaggard sought to offer up a broad array of solutions to the many common sunscreen gripes that serve as excuses for people to not use it (it's oily, it's chalky, it's heavy, it smells bad and so on).
Since the company first launched in 2007, it has steadily garnered attention and acclaim, presenting itself as a disruptor in the sunscreen category. And to an extent, it has been — as much as that word gets overused in the beauty industry. By creating sun protection in innovative textures and applications that are actually pleasant to use, the brand has been somewhat revolutionary. It's also helped to make sun protection a bigger part of the beauty conversation, educating consumers in a way that feels accessible and even fun, rather than clinical or condescending.
Thaggard's latest project? Expanding Supergoop beyond the skin-care shelves and into two new categories: color cosmetics and hair care. On Monday, the brand debuted Shimmershade, a cream eye shadow in three neutral (yet, shimmery, as the name suggests) shades that offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection, and Poof, a dry shampoo-like powder that contains broad-spectrum SPF 45 for the scalp and hair. Venturing outside the fairly limited arena typically reserved for sun protection — lotions, creams and sprays — is a big move for Supergoop, especially given how competitive the makeup and hair-care markets can be.
But Thaggard sees it as a natural progression of the brand's mission to provide head-to-toe sun protection, especially given that the scalp and eye areas are known to be particularly vulnerable to signs of premature aging and, more importantly, skin cancer. (Some scary stats: It's estimated that 5 to 10 percent of skin cancers are found in the eye area, and one study found that melanomas that occur on the scalp have a much higher incidence of spreading to the brain.)
Ahead of the launch of these two new product categories, Thaggard took some time to chat with Fashionista about what went into developing the formulas, why we really need sun protection in our eye shadow and where she expects the new launches to take Supergoop's business. Read on for the highlights.
Tell me a little bit about these new product categories and how they came about.
I think not coming from the beauty industry, I've never really thought about our brand [as] specific to skin care. Everything we do really feeds into our mission, which is to stop the epidemic of skin cancer with one in five people being diagnosed. It's 16 times [more common] than breast cancer, for example, yet it's primarily preventable by practicing healthy habits.
For me, it's really all about, how do I get SPF onto everyone's skin every single day and make it a beautiful, luxurious experience? We think about innovative ways we can get that SPF into [consumers'] routines every single day. That's why I'm most excited about Shimmershade: The eyes are so vulnerable to sun damage, the skin is much thinner around the eye area and the lip area.
I've found in my conversations, people purposefully avoid the eye area [when they're applying sunscreen] because they're concerned about itching and irritating. So when I think about how we get SPF onto the thinner skin around the eye area and do it in a fun way that people will want to embrace, to me, it's always been about Shimmershade. It's always been about, let's create something beautiful and fun to put on. Shimmershade is fun and playful and in the spirit of our brand, and also easy to apply — it can literally be put on with our finger at the last minute.
Can you tell me about the process of putting together the formula for Shimmershade? What goals and challenges did you have?
It's tricky because SPF is not the easiest thing to formulate with. You have restrictions, it's an over-the-counter drug — as it should be — so it's regulated by the FDA. Typically, sunscreens can make the skin look a little oilier or greasier, so one of the big goals that we had for this was to have real staying power when you put it on with your finger, and we wanted it to stay put all day. We wanted it to not crease over time. We had really high expectations for the color payoff and didn't want the product to dry out in the pot. We came up with a pretty long list, actually, of things that we hate about pot cream eye shadows and we really checked the boxes on all of what we had hoped for with this formula. Of course, the most important part of this is delivering that broad-spectrum, UVA/UVB protection that we know we've gotta slip into everyone's routine.
A lot of experts will say that the problem with SPF in makeup is that it's not enough; you still need to put on actual sunscreen. Dermatologists are really adamant about that: You don't reapply your makeup through the day, so you're not using enough of it to really get the sun protection you need. Was that something you were concerned about while formulating this?
That's a great question. We really believe at Supergoop that SPF layering and wardrobing is super important. As you said, people often don't apply enough SPF to get the stated claims — and particularly when you're talking about [SPF in] foundations and products that you're not really intended to apply generously, you want to apply just enough to even out your skin tone. Having that good, generous first coat of something like Superscreen or a moisturizer-based SPF is definitely always something we encourage. In the same vein of that, I would encourage everyone to wear an eye cream with SPF, absolutely. I would start there in a perfect world and then layer on the Shimmershade on top of that.
Do you see this launch as a big jump, going into color cosmetics and that super-competitive market? What does it mean for the business?
It doesn't feel like a big jump for us because we've literally had these in the works for three years. What remains consistent with our brand is that we have dedication to ingredients and using clean ingredients; in this formula, there are no PEGs [also known as polyethylene glycols, or petroleum-based compounds], no talc, no animal-derived pigment, no harsh preservatives. What's always been consistent with our brand is opting for cleaner alternatives.
We're not scared to jump into other categories. There's skin from head to toe; it's our largest organ. Being the solution for innovation and how we deliver the SPF to the skin is going to continue to be where we go forward.
Tell me about Poof, the scalp and hair product Supergoop is launching. How does that fit in to what you're talking about?
This product is the solution to one of those questions that I was asked so much in my career: 'I'm out in the afternoon and my part burns' — nobody wants the skin on their head to burn because of course, the next step is it's going to flake and peel. That's gross.
I was the pickiest person on the team in regards to this formula because my hair is so fine and it gets weighed down very easily. I was looking for something that would revive and act as a dry shampoo and give hair a second wind. We thought about it the same way, not really that we're 'going into hair' now. We just know that it's a problem that people's scalps are burning.
Do you see both the Shimmershade and Poof as products that will appeal to the existing Supergoop customer? Or is this more of an opportunity to reach people who maybe haven't discovered the brand yet or haven't gotten so obsessive about sunscreen yet?
About 78 percent of our customers wear SPF in multiple ways every single day. We have a lot of work to do because when you're looking at it consumer-wide, the percentage of people who do that is very scarily low. So, for our consumer, they really do keep looking to us to build this wardrobe of SPF. But because the percentage of Americans who actually use SPF every single day is so low, this has a real potential for bringing in a new consumer to the SPF-obsessed world of Supergoop because it's so fun and it's so playful.
I think it has potential to bring in an entirely new group of people that didn't realize how great the experience could be of getting SPF onto their eye area. Collectively, we all agree that the first place you see signs of aging is around the eye area.
Click through the gallery below to see each of the new additions to the Supergoop product lineup.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
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