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TV journalist-turned-SPF creator aims to change our perceptions of sunscreen

By MiNDFOOD

TV journalist-turned-SPF creator aims to change our perceptions of sunscreen

Samantha Brett never wanted to be a beauty entrepreneur. The South Africa-born, Sydney-based founder of buzzed-about SPF brand Naked Sundays says she had always planned to be a news journalist “until [her] deathbed”.

However, the demands of her job as a broadcast journalist on live morning TV, plus her investigative nature and an innate ability to juggle (she’s also a best-selling author, media commentator, wife and mother) meant she found herself asking questions about the lack of versatile, desirable skin-protection options and whether she could make her own.

“I’m a news reporter and I stand outside much of the day,” she explains. “I’m at work at 4:30 in the morning and I’m there till about 4:30 in the afternoon, constantly in the sunlight. I saw two of my colleagues get skin cancers cut out of their faces and I just thought, ‘What’s happening here?’”

She says she started considering the range of people who were required to be outside all day – and those that wanted to be – as well as their often lackadaisical approach to using adequate protection from the harsh sun.

“It’s not just people who are working outside. It’s friends who love to go surfing every morning or love to run – anyone outdoors. There wasn’t any really fun sunscreen that could protect your skin and was good for it, that people wanted to wear, that they enjoyed wearing, that was ‘Instagram-worthy’, that they wanted to share with their friends,” says Brett. “It was such a chore and it got me thinking, ‘How do we change the narrative?’

“I looked at my four-year-old daughter who hated wearing sunscreen [and] thought, ‘I can’t have her growing up in a world where she hates sunscreen and where people are getting skin cancers cut out, where the next generation … are paying thousands of dollars to get botox and fillers and lasers to get rid of freckles and all of these things when they could’ve just worn sunscreen. It is the best, cheapest, easiest anti-ageing method out there.’”

SPF line offers products for year-round application

Naked Sundays founder Samantha Brett has created the very sun protection products she has always longed for.

As Brett started percolating the idea for her own SPF brand, the particular demands of her own role provided inspiration. She wanted a sunscreen that worked well under a full face of TV makeup, but that would also enable her to top-up her protection throughout the day without disturbing that makeup.

Her response was to create both, and the fine mist SPF50+ spray, which can be used over makeup, is now the hero of the Naked Sundays collection of texturally beautiful sunscreens that also include skincare benefits.

Wanting to address common complaints like, “It’s too white”, “It’s too sticky” and “It’s terrible for your skin”, Brett jumped through considerable development hoops to ensure her products complied with strict sunscreen performance requirements for Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The line launched in early 2020 and started as a direct-to-consumer brand. The initial sell-out proved plenty of beauty lovers are ready to fully embrace great SPF options, and the brand was recently picked up by cosmetic giant Mecca to be retailed in their stores and online.

Brett says given Australia’s SPF laws are arguably some of the toughest in the world, she is proud of the performance of each of the products in her line after many months in development.

Hundreds of formulations led to ‘the one’

“I went through hundreds of mist formulations [with the experts] before we found the one that we wanted. Formulation is the biggest challenge, but I think that’s where we set ourselves apart; we don’t just take something that’s off the shelf and slap a label on it.

“There’s a big barrier to entry [the rigorous mandatory testing requirements] when creating SPF, which is a good thing. But I found it really difficult, trying to be really nimble and quick – I want everything yesterday! But that’s not how SPF works and that’s a good thing, it’s just a whole different ball game to bringing out something like a face cream.”

Naked Sundays now includes the SPF50+ Glow Mist in two versions for face and body, as well as a SPF50+ Collagen Glow Crème, SPF50+ Collagen Glow 100% Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion and the latest arrival, Luminous Clear Gel Sunscreen SPF50.

The Collagen Glow Crème was created with what are commonly referred to as ‘chemical’ SPF filters, while the Collagen Glow 100% Mineral Perfecting Priming Lotion uses a solely ‘physical’ mineral filter, zinc oxide.

“Chemical sunscreens are beautiful and thin and glowy and feel beautiful and sink into your skin, and they are made with chemical sunscreen filters, all of which are TGA approved and rigorously tested and used in almost every sunscreen around the world,” she says. “The reason I wanted to do mineral as well is because it’s really effective for sensitive skin and eyes, so any kind of redness or breakouts or rosacea or pigmentation – mineral is your best friend.”

She points out one of the biggest challenges was to make an appealing mineral option from notoriously thick and white zinc oxide. It’s a hurdle her lightly tinted and easily spreadable mineral SPF appears to have overcome.

Of course, UV protection efficacy was paramount, but Brett knew the key to getting buy-in was to ensure the products were texturally superior and delivered further skincare benefits. It’s why each option has a number of additional ingredients intended to maintain and improve skin health and ease of application. They include hyaluronic acid, antioxidant-filled watermelon extract and vitamin c-rich Kakadu plum in the mist, as well as plant-based collagen in the lotions, which help increase skin’s moisture content.

Brett is fond of all of her products but is effusive about achieving a beautiful mineral option.

“It’s a beautiful formula that actually gives you a semi-glow, which from a mineral option is so cool. People are saying they wear it on their no-makeup days, but that it’s also the best primer [they’ve] ever used. It grips onto your makeup and it does not move. You don’t need a moisturiser either, you don’t need a serum, you need nothing else other than your mineral SPF. Can you even imagine saying this, like, two years ago?”

Brush application a surprising, but welcome idea

The inclusion of a dense-bristled application brush in the collection has also been a popular talking point. Brett says it seemed a natural addition to her but many people have since wondered why they had never thought of it before. “I’ve always had acne and the one thing that doctors and dermatologists and makeup artists always said to me was, ‘Always use a brush, do not use your fingers because that will spread bacteria,’” she explains. “Obviously, make sure you’re washing your brushes.”

In the production process, Brett was testing hundreds of sunscreen samples and using her fingers constantly, so she began applying them with her foundation brush. “I thought, ‘This is giving me the most beautiful flawless skin and it’s making sure that I get my SPF in every little part of my face and all around my neck, right up to my ears right into my hairline – right, I’m making a brush!’”

With the initial reaction far exceeding her hopes, and more products in development, including a hands-free product for kids, Brett has recently taken a break from her role on Sydney’s Sunrise breakfast show to focus on her passion for changing people’s attitudes to SPF through her new line.

Her message for those who are still dragging their heels on committing to daily SPF, or who are prioritising an intense skincare regime without prioritising sun protection?

“It’s not too late, ever, to change your habits. I’m at the end of the millennial spectrum and because my sunscreens are something I love to wear now, I’m wearing them every day and … I need less makeup. I’m not covering up all the time and that’s really where the name is from, ‘Naked Sundays’. On Sunday, you don’t want to wear heavy makeup. You want your naked skin to shine. Well, why can’t that be your every day? It can be if you wear sunscreen every day.”

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