Founders Ava Matthews and Bec Jefferd believe their sun care products are in a league of their own.
“Instead of sunscreen, we call our products skinscreens – a combination of skin care and sun protection,” Matthews said.
Limitations of sun care market in Australia
Matthews and Jefferd founded the brand to fill a gap in what they believe is Australia’s undeveloped sun care market.
“The market in Australia is pretty old. They work with old school sun screen actives even though it’s such an important part of our skin care,” Matthews explained.
“Sunscreens are very much under-appreciated. We felt that no one was treating it like a skin care product. No one was putting care into the formulation, the branding and the packaging. People weren't thinking about how it layered with your skincare and how it performed under makeup.”
She elaborated that Australians traditionally bought sun protection from the pharmacist or the dermatologists.
“Sun screens at the chemist are old school. They don’t feel nice to apply and don’t wear well with make-up. They use oils that make you look greasy and can cause breakouts. The other choice is the dermatologist but getting something from the doctor ends up feeling like a ‘grudge step’.”
Matthews added that this was reinforced by the Australian perception of sun protection.
“For a lot of Australians, it’s drummed into us from young that we have to wear sunscreen or we will get cancer or melanoma. No one talks about it from a vanity angle, it was more from a medical point of view.”
Creating unique sun care products
The co-founders saw a commercial opportunity to change the market with sun protection that people enjoyed wearing.
“We saw that there was a need for a sun screen brand that people could relate to and that people wanted to wear and talk about with their friends, Instagram and take a selfie with,” said Matthews.
“We considered every formulation from a skin care point of view. We want to have as many skin care actives as we could have and make it feel like a luxurious serum or a beautiful hydrator. We also tested them under so many foundations and skin care products.”
Additionally, Matthews said consumers could feel safe knowing that the products went through testing under the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
“Australia has the harshest testing regulations. Sunscreens here have to go through a lot of different testing to pass. It’s almost regulated like a drug here.”
Ultra Violette’s hero product is Queen Screen, a sunscreen with a serum-like texture that dispenses with a pipette.
Matthews said: “Queen Screen is really lightweight and milky. It disappears instantly, doesn’t make skin greasy and has a whole slew of ingredients to benefit the skin. We don’t think we’ve seen anything like it on the market.”
Expanding the brand
Aside from Queen Screen, the brand offers three more skinscreens, including a lip balm version.
It already has two more products in the pipeline: a tinted skinscreen and a spray for on-the-go touch-ups.
Matthews estimated that the products would be available in 12 to 18 months as the formulation has been challenging.
“Other brands make sunscreens just to tick a box, we really investigated every single active that goes into the product. We really care about how it feels and put a lot of work into it.”
Currently, Ultra Violette is available online in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the US and the UK.
Matthews said the brand’s first priority was to focus on growth in Australia for the next 12 months before looking into increasing the brands retail and international footprint.
“We are looking for an offline distributor but it will have to be the right partner. We are looking at a retail touch point here in Asia and Europe but that will be next year probably.”