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The Future Looks BrightWith Supergoop! Founder Holly Thaggard
We all have different motivations for getting out of bed every morning, whether it’s an early tee time, kids or pets tugging at our sheets, a workout we love or just the promise of a caffeinated beverage. For Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard, it’s sunscreen.
For over 17 years, Holly (aka the “Sunscreen Queen”) has made it her mission to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen. Her San Antonio-based brand is known for creating formulas that are innovative, versatile, clean and feel amazing on your skin. In other words, sunscreen you actually want to wear every day.
It all started back in 2005, when a close friend was diagnosed with skin cancer at the young age of 29. Her friend’s diagnosis, coupled with a void in the market for decent sunscreen, kick-started Holly’s mission to create Supergoop!. “What I saw in the market were chemical formulas that were full of incredibly controversial ingredients and mineral formulas that were thick like toothpaste,” Holly recalls. The daughter of entrepreneurial parents, Holly took it upon herself to create a product that people could easily incorporate into their everyday routines, with no itch, sting or gross ingredients.
“My parents taught us to make the world a better place and look for the white space in things. I thought, if we're going to inspire people to wear SPF every single day, it had to start with a product. It had to start with innovation and formulas that were luxurious, multi-functional and game-changing.”
And change the game she did. In 2007, Holly, a third grade teacher and mom of two, teamed up with a chemist to create her iconic PLAY Everyday Lotion with SPF50—the first sunscreen without oxybenzone—with the goal of supplying it to schools across the country.
“I felt like we weren't educating our youth about how important it is to wear SPF every single day, similar to how kids always wear helmets on their bicycles,” Holly said. “This was just a simple, healthy habit that we were not teaching our youth.”
But little did she know the bureaucratic hoops she’d have to jump through to actually get her product in the classroom. “The FDA governs all over-the-counter products, but they also had a policy in schools across America that you couldn't bring an OTC drug on campus,” she told us. “A child couldn't carry sunscreen in her backpack. It had to be kept in the nurse's station. So you could imagine my frustration upon realizing that there was actually a law against putting sunscreen in schools.”
Challenge met, and accepted: “I had to learn how to go to Capitol Hill and advocate for a change in policy that would allow sunscreen in schools,” Holly said. Fast forward to 2022, and 25 states now allow SPF in schools to protect kids during the school day. And through their Ounce by Ounce® program, Supergoop! donates pumps of PLAY to classrooms across America. “Several thousand of these pumps go out, and that number's just going higher and higher every week,” Holly said proudly.
After conquering Congress and spreading the Supergoop! mission throughout the classroom, Holly switched gears from schools to storefronts. In 2011, Supergoop! launched in Sephora, and has been on a path of rocketship growth ever since, from expanding their retail footprint in 2017 to their recent acquisition by investment group Blackstone.
Today the brand offers over 40 formulas for every skin color, skin type, climate and activity, all of which are reef-friendly, cruelty-free and made with clean ingredients. And for Holly, problem-solving through innovation is the name of the game. A lightweight SPF that makes your skin glow on Zoom? Yes, please (see: Glowscreen SPF 40). A vitamin C serum with built-in UV protection? Didn’t exist before Supergoop! made it (hello, Daily Dose Vitamin C + SPF).
“We believe in simplifying life, but having lots of options. All of our formulas are first to market. In fact, we've been on the Time 100 Best Inventions of the Year twice now. So we're creating things that have never been done before.”
Despite the huge trail they’ve blazed in the sunscreen sunscreen industry, Supergoop!’s work is never finished. “Research shows that 75% of Americans are not wearing SPF every single day,” Holly told us. “Skin cancer is one of the very preventable cancers, and it affects 1-in-5 Americans. We want to turn that scary 1-in-5 stat into 1-in-5 million people. While we’ve been tremendously grateful to be on this path, there's far more to happen in these coming years. We still have a big job to do.”
Similar to vineyard vines’ Every day should feel this good, Supergoop! embraces a mantra of getting outside, enjoying time with family and friends and seizing the day—in other words, “living bright.” It’s this shared sense of beliefs that led to a natural partnership with Holly, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Supergoop!. We’ll be watching—and most definitely wearing our SPF.