Sunscreen is arguably the most important skincare product for Australians. As a country that has one of the highest rates of preventable skin cancer in the world, it’s important for Aussies to use sun protection every day. As a former professional surfer, Jake Paterson is all too familiar with the harshness of the sun and the impact it has on our skin.
On a surfing trip with friends, which included a builder and a skin cancer and cosmetic doctor, Paterson and five others came up with the idea of We Are Feel Good Inc. — an Australian made and owned sunscreen brand that creates products that hold up in the toughest of climates.
“Between us all, we couldn’t find a sunscreen that felt good on our skin, lasted for hours in and out of the water, so we decided to take the matter into our own hands,” Paterson told The Latch. “After years of researching, developing, refining and testing, We Are Feel Good Inc. was born in 2015.”
Using the expertise of co-founder Dr Scott McGregor meant the products created for We Are Feel Good Inc. were of the highest quality. The non-negotiables included creating a formula that wasn’t greasy or oily and didn’t sting your eyes when you came into contact with water.
“Everyone’s skin is different but as an ex-pro surfer, I’ve spent many hours in the sun and in the surf so I was the perfect guinea pig to get the best long-lasting product,” Paterson said. “My bucket list was pretty simple — non-greasy, won’t run in my eyes in the water, won’t leave me looking white after rubbing it in, and of course, must work for hours in the water.”
While the team at We Are Feel Good Inc. are passionate about creating protective SPF products for Aussies, they are also extremely aware of their impact on the environment. In order to lessen the impact of We Are Feel Good Inc., the brand has partnered with Precious Plastic Margaret River to start a recycling program.
“We were horrified to learn that a large number of recyclable plastics still end up in landfill each year due to not being cleaned or separated properly,” Paterson said. “This program is focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfill and provides an avenue for consumers to safely and correctly recycle their We Are Feel Good Inc. bottles.”
We recently caught up with Paterson to discuss all things sunscreen, the importance of sun protection and why recycling isn’t as simple as putting plastic into the recycling bin.
Alexandra McCarthy: What is the ethos of We Are Feel Good Inc.?
Jake Paterson: As a group of six friends including a skin cancer doctor, a builder and a professional surfer (myself), we wanted an Australian-made product that suited the diverse needs of our individual lifestyles. We wanted to create a sunscreen that our families could use and trust, and a brand that reflected our passion for adventure and embracing the outdoor lifestyle.
Between us all, we couldn’t find a sunscreen that felt good on our skin, lasted for hours in and out of the water, so we decided to take the matter into our own hands. After years of researching, developing, refining and testing, We Are Feel Good Inc. was born in 2015.
Scott, our skin doc, made sure we had the latest and greatest ingredients so our products are also paraben, oxybenzone, octinoxate and PABA free and enriched with vitamin E and aloe vera, chosen for their antioxidant, hydration and nourishing properties.
AM: Consumers can be pretty picky with the feel and texture of their SPF products. What were some of the non-negotiables when it came to creating sunscreen products for We Are Feel Good Inc.?
JP: Everyone’s skin is different but as an ex-pro surfer, I’ve spent many hours in the sun and in the surf so I was the perfect guinea pig to get the best long-lasting product. My bucket list was pretty simple — non-greasy, won’t run in my eyes in the water, won’t leave me looking white after rubbing it in, and of course, must work for hours in the water.
When we started developing the products, we knew first-hand that a sunscreen with SPF 50+ is essential, especially with our tough Australian UV, and we all agreed it had to have an amazing finish and feel that wouldn’t dry out your skin. From our sunscreen to zinc, we pride ourselves on creating products that are suitable for everyday use and free of any nasties.
We are proud to say that our sunscreen and zinc products are oxybenzone and octinoxate free, which are the two UV filters that have been banned in Hawaii due to their damaging effects on coral reef systems.
Developing a product that genuinely ‘feels good’ for you and limits environmental impact has always been our number one!
“We knew first-hand that a sunscreen with SPF 50+ is essential, especially with our tough Australian UV”.
AM: Changing the messaging that sunscreen is a skincare product that should be used every day, not just at the beach, is quite tough. How have you approached this through your brand?
JP: We encourage all Aussies to use sunscreen every day, no matter if you’re spending hours surfing like myself or 30 minutes walking around your suburb. We can be exposed to UV (Ultraviolet) radiation in all weather conditions and therefore experience levels of skin damage at any time of the day. It is a common issue that people forget to apply sunscreen or do not understand that UV rays can still be damaging to our skin during cool and cloudy days too.
We have developed a Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ which is extremely light-weight and can double as the perfect face sunscreen or be used as a primer under makeup, so our range is extremely diverse in use beyond the sand and surf. We also have some exciting new product developments underway in the face category — watch this space!
AM: Same goes for communicating how much sunscreen needs to be used to properly protect you. How do you tackle this challenge from a brand perspective?
JP: With our founders originating from such different backgrounds and lifestyles we have been able to collaborate and authentically advise our customers around how to best use sunscreen and ultimately, develop a product suited for a vast range of people.
I was even able to recruit some of the best surfing athletes in the world to test out our products during our research phase and they churn through bottles every season!
Dr Scott McGregor is also a co-founder of We Are Feel Good Inc. and a skin cancer and cosmetic physician who readily contributes with advice and knowledge around the proper use of sunscreen and essential ingredients required.
He is always advocating for people to wear sunscreen every day to not only avoid getting sunburnt but also reduce the ageing of your skin as a result of sun exposure. Approximately 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun, so it’s extremely important to properly protect your skin every day.
AM: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about sunscreen?
JP: Sunscreen works best if you apply 20 minutes before sun exposure but don’t forget to have an extra bottle in your car or bag so you can top-up throughout the day. Reapply your sunscreen! Even our most trusted and popular sunscreen with four-hour water resistance needs to be reapplied after swimming, towelling and excessive sweating in order to protect your face and body.
AM: As well as protecting the skin of Aussie’s, you’ve also created a recycling program. What prompted you to start the We Are Feel Good Inc. Bottle Recycling Program?
JP: As a team that spends the majority of our time outdoors and in nature, care for the environment and sustainability is built into the heart and ethos of the We Are Feel Good Inc. brand.
We were horrified to learn that a large number of recyclable plastics still end up in landfill each year due to not being cleaned or separated properly. This program is focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in landfill and provides an avenue for consumers to safely and correctly recycle their We Are Feel Good Inc. bottles. Doing our small bit to try and educate people because we feel that people want to recycle but it not as simple as putting plastic into the recycling bin.
We’ve partnered with Precious Plastic Margaret River, Precious Plastic Victoria and Socially Plastic in Sydney to launch the program whereby 100% recyclable We Are Feel Good Inc. bottles can be made into a colourful hair comb.
“We were horrified to learn that a large number of recyclable plastics still end up in landfill each year”.
AM: How does the program work? How can people get involved?
JP: It is really easy to get involved! All we ask is that after you’re finished with your We Are Feel Good Inc. bottle you:
1) Wash and dry your empty bottles and lids
2) Drop them to one of our 100 collection points, which you can locate here.
3) Your chosen collection point will have a QR code at there store for you to scan and have a chance to win a year’s supply of We Are Feel Good Inc. sunscreen!
Of course, our passion for recycling goes beyond our We Are Feel Good Inc. bottles and we encourage everyone to read up on recycling how-tos here.
Head to the We Are Feel Good Inc. website to shop the range of SPF and body products.