Say Hi To Holly Thaggard, The Smarty-Pants Behind Supergoop
"SPF Obsessed" Holly Thaggard would probably slap me silly if she heard me say this, but I don't even really think of the supremely awesome Supergoop as a suncare brand. To me, it's skincare, flat-out - and primo, cutting-edge, anti-aging skincare, to boot. Every year, I'm amazed at the innovative formulas Holly and her team whip up to steer us away from the temptation to skip sunscreen "just this once."
And speaking of whipping, the brand's new Super Power Sunscreen Mousse is perhaps the most delicious, divinely scented SPF 50 product known to man. If you're as crepey as I am right now (that's crepey, not creepy), you'll love how it hydrates the living hell out of your legs, arms + other body parts.
Clearly, I'm a Supergoop fan. So a while back, I sent Holly some Qs. And Holly, very nicely, took the time to send back some As.
Here's how it all went down...
FBP: Does Supergoop attempt to launch new products every year to keep the lineup fresh? Or just as some new, cool, never-been-done-before formula becomes available? I feel like every year there's a raft of new Supergoop being unveiled.
THAGGARD: We really don't follow a tradition of launching products at certain times of the year but rather we think of new product launches when the timing is right for the brand. Because sun protection has been a very sleepy category, starving for innovation, we have a very full 3-5 year pipeline of formulas we’re working on in the lab. Product is the primary reason I saw the opportunity to build Supergoop!. Unlike many cancers, skin cancer is primarily preventable through consistent sun protective regimens so product is what I wake up thinking about every single day.
FBP: From a problem / solution standpoint, has Supergoop tackled pretty much every issue on its "To Do" list? Or are there still some challenges you're trying to work out in the lab?
THAGGARD: Supergoop! is known most for delivering highly efficacious sun protective formulas in very unique ways. We’re (literally) obsessed with SPF and thus challenge our chemists to continue working through what most people see as impossible or even what most haven’t even thought of.
FBP: Do you find you're getting more Qs from customers regarding the safety of ingredients? Have we become a nation of "label-readers"? What's good and bad about this?
THAGGARD: Consumers today are far more savvy to ingredient choices. It is not possible today for a product company to survive without paying attention to what goes into their formulations. For Supergoop!, we’ve always been about healthy, clean ingredients but we also take seriously the importance of delivering highly efficacious and stable formulas. After all, people come to our brand because they trust the protection we're known for. The concern comes into play when consumers don’t fully understand the need for preservatives and thus reach for brands that, for example, market as preservative-free which could mean a compromise on formula stability or efficacy.
FBP: I know this is like asking you to pick a favorite child, but which Supergoop product are you most proud of, to date, and why?
THAGGARD: Definitely a tricky question for me to answer honestly as my proudest formulas are always those that we haven’t quite launched yet. To date though, Defense Refresh SPF 50 Setting Mist delivered on a solution to the question I have most frequently been asked over the last decade: “How do I reapply my SPF in the middle of the day without messing up my makeup?” We launched this formula in partnership with Sephora and it's still today one of our fastest movers at retail, and one I am particularly proud of.
FBP: Agreed, the Defense Refresh is major. It's especially great for us Floridians, who face the issue of "melting makeup" on pretty much a year-round basis. And the "lady" on the front of the bottle looks vaguely Parisienne in her cute striped frock! Was that intentional?
THAGGARD: We were looking for an artist to bring Defense Refresh to life – after all nobody comes to the Supergoop! brand to sit on the couch! The artist, Libby Vander Ploeg, lives in New York and I really connected with her as she has an affinity for storytelling and she’s such a talented young women entrepreneur. In regards to the stripes, we gave Defense Refresh a new dress for Spring 2017 coinciding with the March J. Crew launch of National Stripes Day -- we just decided to play along! One of the (many!) advantages we have by being an indie brand is that we can be nimble and make decisions quickly. This is a good example of that.
FBP: It's adorable. But now I have a Q about the new mousse. Can it be used on the face? By spritzing into your hands first? Or would you recommend another format for face?
THAGGARD: Our Super Power Sunscreen Mousse (SPF 50!) can be applied to face or body –and it’s perfect for poolside and/or beachside application as it's water resistant. But for city living/day-to-day protection, my favorite face product is our City Sunscreen Serum. It’s super lightweight, hydrating and delivers meaningful anti-aging benefits as well as broad spectrum sun protection.
FBP: What percentage of your customers would you guesstimate prefers a mineral sunscreen to chemical? Have you seen an uptick in mineral sales in recent years?
THAGGARD: At Supergoop! we believe in options. We are true experts in SPF and that means we create organic chemical formulations with clean, healthy ingredients (not all chemicals are bad!) and mineral formulas that aren’t sticky or tacky or that leave a white cast on the skin.
Regardless of the type of formula, we believe SPF should feel good on the skin. Most of our customers don’t limit their SPF to one type of protection. For example, most days I rely on our City Serum and our CC Cream (100% mineral). For active or beach days, our family loves the Everyday SPF 50 or our Super Power Sunscreen Mousse as they are both highly water resistant and easy to reapply. We will continue down the path of formulating both so that the consumer has options.
FBP: From a safety perspective, which do you think is more harmful: dodgy chemical sunscreen ingredients or micronized titanium dioxide?
THAGGARD: I’m not a fan of micronized titanium or dodgy chemical sunscreen actives (oxybenzone is a huge skin allergen). Neither are needed to deliver safe sun protection. But most importantly, we must keep in mind that while we all love the sunshine, it is a carcinogen (cancer causing!) so please keep SPF in your every single day routine!
FBP: Since moving to Florida three years ago, I've become a real tennis fanatic. I have two tennis-related Qs:
This morning, one of my hitting buddies and I were sharing a lesson and she started to complain that her sunscreen makes her feel 1000 times hotter than if if she weren't wearing any. Is there any "work-around" for this? Or any specific formula that you'd recommend?
THAGGARD: My co-owner, Maria Sharapova, first reached out to me because she had found our Everyday SPF 50 at Sephora and it was the first SPF she had ever worn that felt great and didn’t burn her eyes during intense tournaments and day to day play. For high activity, I recommend an organic chemical formula as mineral/physical formulas sit on top of the skin and often trap heat and prevent our pores from breathing naturally.
FBP: Between games, when it's hot out (it's always hot out!), we "go to the towel" to sop up some of the perspiration. Should we just be lightly dabbing so we don't rub our sunscreen off? Or is there a formula that has more staying power than another?
THAGGARD: This is a great question because mineral/physical formulas are also easily removed from the skin when sweating and/or swimming. Organic chemical formulas such as our Everyday SPF 50 for face and body absorb into the skin (safely!) and have longer staying power during intense play. We also have a Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C that makes reapplication easy and you don’t have to apply with your hands which might hurt your grip.
FBP: Well, I think stunning, 5-time Grand Slam champ Maria might know a thing or two about tennis + sun protection! My next match, I'll be slathered in Everyday SPF 50 with a touch of my precious Mousse. Thank you for your time, and your amazing, cancer-preventing products. They're really fantastic.