Cay Skin, the new sunscreen brand launched by model Winnie Harlow, is focused on clean sun protection and inclusivity as well as paying tribute to her Jamaican roots.
Good skincare is always top of mind for supermodels, including Winnie Harlow, who’s just launched a sustainable sunscreen brand inspired by her Caribbean roots and made especially for people of color. But there’s more to it.
Harlow is well-known for her appearance—she has vitiligo, a lack of pigment in the skin that causes pigment-free patches to appear randomly across the skin. “It’s my skin, so it’s the first thing you see,” Harlow told Fashion Week Daily in 2020.
But it’s the skin she’s long wanted people to look past.
“I’m not my skin. People make it such a thing where it’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh, she is the spokesperson.’ No, I’m not a spokesperson. I happen to have vitiligo and I’m proud of it, but I’m also not a spokesperson for it just because you want me to be, or just because I have a skin condition. That’s not how life works. That makes it difficult. It’s not about me being private about my skin condition. I love talking about it. But it’s not the only thing about me,” she said.
But after she was asked to not wear sunscreen during a 2018 photoshoot because it left white streaks on her skin, she suffered permanent sun damage. That experience was part of the impetus behind the new suncare range. Harlow said she felt underrepresented as a person of color when it came to high-quality clean sunscreen.
“Traditional sunscreens are notorious for being heavy, uncomfortable, not wearing well under makeup, and worst of all, leaving a white or purple cast, especially on people of color. This has led to so many people I know skimping on sun care in everyday life,” Harlow, said of Cay Skin. She’s the founder and creative director. “My experience deepened my conviction to create sun care products that are both comfortable to wear every day, and effective at providing truly invisible protection for everyone under the sun.”
A sunscreen for everyone
Harlow was inspired by her Caribbean roots, particularly aloe vera. It’s a common skincare ingredient, often overlooked for its healing powers, especially when used fresh. Harlow remembers as a child her mother would apply fresh-cut aloe to her bug bites and sunburns.
The vegan products include other island-based ingredients like Sea Moss and Hydrating Nectar. The SPFs are silicone-free and non-nano minerals.
Cay Skin features four SPF-based products for face and body. There’s the antioxidant-packed Glow Face Lotion SPF 45 great for all skin tones. The Universal Mineral Face Lotion SPF 55 is tinted yellow for easy blending. The Isle Body Oil SPF 30 offers UVA and UVB protection without leaving the skin feeling greasy. And the Isle Lip Balm SPF 30 hydrates and protects lips from harmful sun.
“Everyone always forgets about the lips,” Harlow told Vanity Fair. “I wanted something that was going to be hydrating and nutrient-rich, but also protecting the lips.”
“Our brand is on a mission to create sustainable, skin loving products for everyone under the sun to feel confident in their skin every day,” reads the Cay Skin website.
According to Cay Skin, 75 of its products come in 100 percent recyclable packaging; 30 percent are made with post-consumer resin. All cartons are FSC-certified paper and 100 percent recyclable. The brand also supports the Los Angeles nonprofit, A Place Called Home, that support at-risk youth.
Harlow joins a growing number of celebrities flooding the sustainable skincare category. Most recently, actress Scarlett Johannson launched The Outset, a sustainable vegan skincare range inspired by her own minimalist skincare regimen.
Last year, Harlow’s fellow supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley launched Rose, Inc, a clean skincare line driven by the growing demand for sustainable skincare.
“I wanted to create products with innovative clean ingredients, sustainable solutions and high-performance, non-comedogenic formulations,” Huntington-Whiteley said.
And for Harlow, clean skincare, especially sun protection, needs to be more than just sustainable and high performance. It also needs to be inclusive.
“No one has enough melanin to protect from the sun’s rays,” she said. “I wanted to make sure that people understood that this is for everyone under the sun.”
Cay Skin is available now at cayskin.com and is launching at Sephora in April.