Supergoop! Founder Holly Thaggard on Skincare, Sustainability and Why Wearing Sunscreen Is Important
Few skincare labels have garnered as strong of a cult following as Supergoop!, let alone been able to maintain such level of hype in today’s already crowded beauty scene. When Holly Thaggard officially launched Supergoop! in 2007, her move made quite a buzz in the industry as she pioneered the clean beauty trend with safe, innovative and feel-good products that make SPF skincare easy to experiment with for better skin health.
Less than 10 years later, the brand has become a go-to label for all things SPF skincare worldwide. From the popular sunscreens that cater for a wide spectrum of skin types, to nourishing serums, body creams, as well as make-up setting powders and eyeshadows, everything at Supergoop! is carefully curated to be reef-safe, cruelty-free and made with clean ingredients to provide your skin with all-year-round sun protection.
“I’m on a mission to change the way people understand about SPF skincare. I want to educate the world about the importance of skin cancer prevention and sunscreen usage, but in a fun, playful way—this is the spirit of my brand,” she said with steely confidence.
We had the chance to speak to Holly Thaggard about the inspiration behind the launch of Supergoop!, the importance of wearing sunscreen daily, her skincare tips, and what does the idea of living sustainably mean to her.
What were you doing before Supergoop!
It’s been almost 17 years since joined I the beauty industry and launched Supergoop!. I was a teacher post-college, and today, I’m still an educator but not confined to the four walls of the classroom, teaching people about the importance of using sunscreen.
Thinking back, I couldn’t stand to see people were not teaching children about this healthy habit as we did about washing hands and brushing teeth. Sunscreen was often thought to be a seasonal product for summer and beach days, and over the past decade, Supergoop! has worked hard to eliminate this common misconception. I really want to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen and raise people’s awareness of SPF protection.
How did Supergoop! begin? What’s the inspiration behind your brand?
It was a need to make people rethink the importance of this health habit [applying sunscreen] that inspired me to create the brand. The moment when I found out my friend had been diagnosed with skin cancer in 2004 was a turning point in my life, which led me to launch Supergoop! and create game-changing SPF beauty solutions to ignite public awareness about skin cancer prevention.
Through continuous research, I learned that the reason why people tend to neglect sunscreen as part of their daily routines, is because it doesn’t don’t feel good on the skin. So, we have been dedicated to inventing clean, reef-safe and cruelty-free products that not only guarantee quality sun protection, but also feel incredibly comfortable.
Thinking inclusively of every skin type, colour and tone is also a core part of Supergoop!’s DNA. We want to encourage people to use SPF as a daily habit, and that’s why we have a wide range of sunscreens tailored to all skin concerns and routines, alongside other innovative SPF products including body cream, lip balm, setting powder and more.
And instead of talking about the scary side of skin cancer, I’d like to educate people and end the skin cancer epidemic in a fun and positive way. I don’t think you scare people into changing their behaviour, you inspire them into it. That’s always the spirit of Supergoop!—just think about how playful the brand name is!
Supergoop! has always been clean, reel-safe and cruelty-free since its launch, why has this always been important to you?
I always think if there’s any reason that gives people hesitation to wear SPF, it’s our job to put that hesitation away. Supergoop! has a philosophy of “No Compromises” that we strive to make great products that are good for people and planet, as you can see from our product line-up, everything is untouched by potentially harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone, parabens and synthetic fragrances. Supergoop! was the very first brand to formulate chemical sunscreen without oxybenzone (the ingredient that linked to the destruction of coral reefs), and it's also committed to a strict (and growing) list of ingredients it will never use to make sure all the products are both safe and effective.
Our ultimate goal is to have everybody wear sunscreen every single day, in a fight against the epidemic of skin cancer. But at the same time, we also respect the planet and hope to create products that are kind to the person using them as well as the environment they are being used in.
Aside from expanding our product range, we have also been working hard to improve packaging sustainability. We are now able to transition all secondary packaging [the cartons that our products come in] to recyclable, FSC-certified stocks. All bubble wraps have also been replaced with recyclable PCW paper, meaning our shipping boxes and packing contents are 100% recyclable. I’m really proud of my teams for how successfully they came up with creative solutions, while also taking small but meaningful steps to help save the environment.
What does the idea of “living sustainably” mean to you?
My job is everything that starts with the letter “P”—product, passion, purpose, people and planet. With a focus on revolutionising sun care in the beauty world, we consistently deliver never-before-seen products to encourage people to rethink daily SPF, while highlighting the importance of living sustainably. We want to incentivise our customers to make more conscious decisions to protect our Mother Earth—even doing something small like choosing reef-safe sunscreens, can make a big difference.
What are some of the best Supergoop! products you would recommend for someone who’s new to the brand?
I always believe there’s no one right product for every person. There are so many factors you should put into consideration when selecting products for the ideal SPF wardrobe—think skin type or tone, age, climate and lifestyle... what’s right for my skin might not be right for yours. We have a product finder quiz that’s fun, easy to complete, which helps people to find the products that are right for their skin quickly!
At Supergoop!, we offer over 40 sunscreen formulas designed for every skin type and SPF goal, all of which check the boxes of everything we normally don’t like about sunscreen (such as greasy texture and heavy scent), and are carefully formulated to protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays, as well as infrared rays.
Some of my personal favourites include the Unseen Sunscreen, which has a smooth, incredibly lightweight texture that can be double as a primer; and Play Everyday Lotion SPF 30 with Sunflower Extract, a hydrating, fast-absorbing formula that’s also water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes.
What’s next for Supergoop!? Any exciting new products in the works?
We always have a bright future ahead of us here at Supergoop!, not to mention a lot of exciting and innovative products in the works. And while I don’t want to totally give away our next launch, I will tell you that it’s one we’ve been working on for quite a while (as is always the case!) and—in keeping with our brand mission—it’s going to totally change the way you think about sunscreen!
Where would you like to see the beauty industry go from here? What changes do you think we can expect to see in the industry in the following years?
I think trends continue to point in a proactive, “what can I do to prevent damage before it even starts?” direction, versus a reactive, “what can I do to repair damage?” one. This means people are really starting to value the importance of caring for their skin, starting at an even younger age, too.
What does your personal beauty routine look like? What products do you swear by (both from your line and other brands)?
I’m a big fan of Caudalie! The brand makes so many beautiful products. I love their face washes and toners, which I think are the most important items in a routine. Tatcha’s Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil is a great formula too, if you’re looking for a two-in-one makeup remover and cleanser packed with antioxidants.
After cleansing in the morning, I like to apply Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Serum - Complexion Correcting and follow that up with Supergoop!’s Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF 40 serum. Depending on my mood, I would use either Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 or Glowscreen SPF40 to achieve a totally invisible finish or dewy complexion.
On weekends when I get out with my kids, I typically apply the Play Everyday Lotion SPF30 to keep the skin protected, which is perfect for a long day of play as it’s water- and sweat-resistant. I also apply a layer of Body Butter SPF40 before applying sunscreen, to make sure I get enough amount of sun protection. At night, my routine is all about candles and relaxing baths.
What does self-care mean to you, and how does it impact the way you work, especially during the pandemic?
While travel is restricted during the pandemic, I have been exercising more than before. Say, six days a week and I’m 1,000 per cent committed to pilates and weightlifting. Regular exercise just makes me feel good and I think it’s really important to make more time for myself. My brand also shares a similar belief that self-care and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are very important. I hope people can take a moment to pause, go outside and enjoy all nature has to offer with their loved ones.
What’s the best beauty advice or wisdom you’ve ever received?
Wear SPF, drink enough water and get enough sleep!
Do you have a motto you live by with regards to business or life?
Live your best and brightest life, take good care of your skin, go out and enjoy the sunshine safely and always, always be mindful about the products you use.
Supergoop! Founder Holly Thaggard shares tips on how to wear sunscreen well for maximum skin protection, including when to wear it, for how long and what you should look for on the product labels
Why is it important to wear sunscreen?
People know the importance of using sunscreen to protect the skin from the sun and avoid sunburn during outdoor activities, but not many of them acknowledge that daily SPF is essential because UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays bring damage to the skin 365 days a year. We are vulnerable to sun damage no matter what season and location, indoors or outdoors, as UVA rays can penetrate through clouds, smog and glass.
UV exposure is also the number one cause of skin cancer and premature ageing, so it’s important to use sunscreen every day to make sure our skin is always protected.
How much and how often should we apply sunscreen?
People are not applying sunscreen as generously as they should. We should always pay attention to both direct and indirect UV rays, especially while we’re at the pool or beach all day. Make sure you reapply every couple of hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating heavily.
It’s also important to include at least four to five SPF products in your beauty wardrobe, then you can layer them for different purposes and maximum protection. Aside from sunscreens, Supergoop! has a wide range of products that make daily use of SPF easy, including moisturiser, eye cream, serums, body butter, eyeshadows, setting powder, and many more. Skin is the largest organ of the body, so we have to think about all sorts of ways to slip SPF into our routines and give the protection the skin needs. Also, don’t forget those often-ignored body parts when applying sunscreen—including ears, lips, neck, the backs of your hands and legs, which are the most common site to develop skin cancer.
How to choose the right sunscreen according to my skin type and own needs?
As I mentioned earlier, there’s no one-size-fits-all sunscreen. You should carefully think about your unique skin needs before buying the product. Our mineral formulas are especially ideal for those with acne-prone, sensitive skin.
As we get older, our skin would go through many changes, so it’s also important to adjust your routine and take the time to find the right SPF formulas that can address your specific skin concerns.
What are the important terms on sun protection labels that I need to take note of when buying sunscreens?
You should always look at SPF (Sun Protection Factor, which measures protection against UVB rays) and PA (Protecting Grade of UVA rays) rating when selecting sunscreens. Make sure your products have at least three plus signs (PA+++) if not four, as the greater number of plusses guarantees the more protection you get from UVA exposure. You should also pick a sunscreen that’s labelled as waterproof or sweat-resistant if you’re going to swim and do outdoor sports.