A Sunny Forecast
Project Sunscreen was born in 2016, when two moms, CEO Rachel Henderson, who has a background in public health and education, and Dr. Ashley Magovern, a Los Angeles dermatologist, wanted to create a better sunscreen for their kids. Products were launched in the summer of 2019.
Living in New Zealand and Australia, Henderson learned early on about the importance of sunscreen. After moving to Southern California and raising two young children, she saw the need to encourage sun-safety habits and wanted to develop an effective product that kids would want to use. Having battled skin cancer for much of her adult life, she wanted to make sure her two kids didn’t suffer the same fate by ensuring they practiced good sun-safe habits from an early age.
With a background in health and clinical research, Henderson had the perfect foundation for developing a new sunscreen. But, finding one that was easy to use and didn’t cause skin sensitivity issues was a challenge. She shared the idea with Magovern, and they decided to combine their talents to create Project Sunscreen, a mineral-based sunscreen.
Henderson told Happi that she had a very romantic idea of what it would be like to start Project Sunscreen.
“I thought it would be develop a formula, find some packaging, create labels and somehow get our product magically into stores—that was it!”
Looking back, she says her naiveté was a blessing in disguise.
“To start a company from scratch, it is far more complicated than you can imagine and challenging at almost every turn,” she admitted. “You need a very thick skin, be able to survive on virtually no sleep, make significant decisions in a flash, be a master of juggling a million and one things at one time while still smiling and acting confident in your ability.”
One of the unique aspects of Project Sunscreen is its ball applicator. Henderson said she discovered the form in Australia and when she returned with it to US, parents were constantly asking her where she found it, since she was able to hold onto a wriggling child and easily apply sunscreen.
“Whenever I went back to Australia, I would bring it in by the truckload to share with my friends,” she recalled. “Ashley and I decided to combine our talents to develop a mineral sunscreen that had the similar qualities to the Australian product—but so much better, without chemical filters, mineral-based, reef-friendly and good for your skin ingredients. That was when Project Sunscreen was born!”
The brand launched with six “personalities,” each designed to appeal to a child’s different tastes and interests.
“We strongly believe that if kids feel a personal connection to the bottles, they’ll be excited to use it,” Henderson explained. “The labels are actually created by kids to make sure they’re cool to them.”
This year, Project Sunscreen will grow with new offerings and distribution for teens and adults. SPFU and For All contain zinc oxide, and are fragrance-, PABA-, paraben- and phthalate-free.
Project Sunscreen is available on Amazon and a number of regional grocery chains, throughout the US, including Meijer, Stop and Shop, and Bartell. This Spring, the line debuts at Ulta.
It may have started as a product line, but Henderson and Magovern insist that Project Sunscreen is a movement.
“We’re incredibly grateful for the success we have gotten out of the gate with the brand and it’s almost overwhelming when we see and hear feedback from customers. We know we struck a chord,” explained Henderson. “We’re passionate about helping kids develop sun safety habits early in life and are working with local school and school districts to establish quick, easy and fun sun safety practices. Why? Many children go unprotected from sun exposure at school—especially midday, when sun protection is critical. We also want to make sure that people (adults and children alike) make sunscreen part of their everyday routines—not only during the warm summer months.”