Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S.? It is also the most preventable, but prevention starts with sun protection at an early age. Unfortunately, there is a lack of education about the importance of sun protection and daily SPF wear, especially in school systems. In fact, only 12 states currently allow SPF on school campuses without a note from a doctor.

After a close friend of Holly Thaggard was diagnosed with skin cancer, she learned that daily incidental sun exposure at a young age is cumulative and damaging. Through research, she also learned the number one reason why people don’t wear sunscreen is that it doesn’t feel good on the skin. Fast forward, and Holly is now the owner and founder of Supergoop!, a feel-good, ingredient-conscious line of SPF products (including sunscreens, beauty, and anti-aging products) that has built a loyal customer following thanks to its amazing products and beautiful packaging. We had the opportunity to chat with her all about Supergoop!, her knowledge on sun protection and anti-aging, as well as her favorite part about running a business from Texas (she’s based in San Antonio). Read on below!

You were inspired to create Supergoop! after a close friend of yours was diagnosed with skin cancer at 29. Tell us a little more about this “aha” moment and what inspired you to develop your innovative sunscreen line.

A close friend of mine was diagnosed with skin cancer when we were in our early 30s. Another college friend was finishing her residency in dermatology and explained to me that daily incidental sun exposure at a young age is cumulative and damaging. Through research, I learned the number one reason why people don’t wear sunscreen is that it doesn’t feel good on the skin. I love to create and was super inspired to fill the void in the market for an ingredient-conscious, clean, feel-good product: an SPF that everyone would want to wear every single day.  

Before Supergoop! you were a teacher and realized that kids were not bringing sunscreen to school. Now Supergoop!’s giving program Ounce by Ounce is putting sunscreen in schools across the country. How has this initiative been received so far and what is your ultimate goal for it?

While we’ve built our brand through close retail partnerships, my original business model was to see Supergoop! in classrooms across America. Unfortunately in 2007, the only state in the U.S. that even allowed sunscreen on a school campus without a doctor’s note was California (the FDA considers it an over-the-counter drug and regulates it as such). Ever since then, Supergoop! has been working in partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center to change state policies to allow sunscreen and sun safety education in classrooms. Today, 12 states now allow SPF on school campuses without a note from a doctor and an additional seven states have bills in motion. This is a meaningful and measurable win that will ultimately help decline skin cancer rates in U.S.

And now we’ve come full circle, thanks to Ounce by Ounce®–our giving program to put SPF in classrooms across America. Our goal is to be in over 1,000 Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade classrooms by the 2019 school year. 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and it’s also the most preventable. What do you think we can do as a culture to continue raising awareness about skin cancer and making skincare a priority in our own homes? 

It’s important that we continue to get the word about the importance of wearing SPF every single day – not just when you’re at the beach. There are so many other myths out there related to suncare and skincare, and it’s our job to keep educating people about the truth about protection and daily SPF wear, which is the very best thing that you can do for your skin!

You’ve experienced tremendous growth since you launched your brand in 2007! Looking back are there any key decisions along the way that led the brand to where it is today?

 Thank you! I’m incredibly grateful for the 365-days-a-year retail support of Sephora in helping us build our brand and tell our story. The epidemic of skin cancer doesn’t exist because there is a shortage of SPF products on store shelves, it exists because traditional sunscreen just doesn’t feel good. In order to get people to wear SPF every single day, we have to make sunscreen cool and fun to wear while taking the seasonality out of the marketing. I’ve always been focused on the product itself, so I’d say that’s impacted key decisions along the way such as the ingredients we have and haven’t used and the innovations we’ve made to make it feel amazing on your skin. 

Your branding and digital content are beautiful and really make sunscreen look cool! Have social media and digital marketing been important focuses since the beginning?

When we launched Supergoop! in 2007, social media and digital marketing didn’t really exist yet. But since then, especially within the last couple of years, we’ve become a digital-first brand, with social being at the forefront of our thinking and content planning.

Along the same line, you’ve teamed up with cool female creatives and influencers to create a visual story around your brand. How would you describe the Supergoop! Brand in a few words? How do you balance speaking to your young female customer with speaking to families with young children?

Supergoop! is the first skincare brand that dedicates every product to protection and prevention – and to helping defend your skin from damaging outdoor and indoor aggressors. And our mission is to change the way the world thinks about SPF through clean, feel-good and highly innovative formulas. Our voice and our product has always appealed to moms, millennials and kids alike.

You, like us, are from Texas where it is hot for most months out of the year. How do you feel like our state and culture are doing in terms of promoting skin health and the use of sunscreen? How could we improve? 

In 2012, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston announced a melanoma moon shot program to better understand and respond to melanoma and to work with Texas lawmakers and advocates like Supergoop! to create real change. This was instrumental in making the 2013 legislation, which now prevents teens from using tanning beds, and creating sun safety curriculums for children which are now taught to hundreds of thousands of elementary school students in America. I think what we really need is for parents to be louder advocates in schools in order for them to understand their responsibility to protect children on campus during the school day.

What are the most essential steps to preventing skin damage in the summertime (sunscreen included of course!)?

I’m all about an SPF wardrobe because one product just isn’t enough. It’s always best to layer SPF in order to make sure you’re protecting areas that may have been missed (and to make sure you’re wearing enough in the first place). So more is always better! Disclaimer: You always get protection of the highest SPF you wear, they don’t add up! 

We have a lot of young mom readers. Can you share the importance of daily sunscreen starting at a young age?

 Sun damage accumulates over time starting at a very young age. If you’re exposed to the sun at a younger age, over time, your skin can suffer. That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about getting SPF in schools across America.

Does it matter your skin pigment when determining how often or what level sunscreen you need? For example, one of my boys is fair skin and the other is much more olive. Should I treat their skin the same?

Yes, all skin tones need SPF, even those who rarely burn. When it comes to sun protection, most people tend to think only about sunburns, which are only caused by UVB (burning) rays. But the truth is, you’re forgetting an entirely different type of damage. UVA (aging) rays enter the skin’s surface even deeper, and they can contribute to skin cancer and also cause signs of aging (wrinkles, uneven skin tone, all those little things you don’t love about your skin).

Anti-aging practices are now more than ever a hot topic in the beauty industry. How does regular sunscreen application affect our skin over the years?

90% of the signs of aging are actually caused by the sun. Broad Spectrum SPF protects against both UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays, and all of Supergoop’s products are Broad Spectrum. They also all protect your skin from Infrared radiation, which can cause free radical damage. 

If a mid twenties to late thirties woman is deciding which Supergoop! products to start with, what do you recommend?

I always say there’s a time and a place for all of our SPF! If you’re looking for something to wear every day that’s water-resistant (or something that’s good for working out or beaching it), then our Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 is great. If you want an invisible, weightless formula for your face that works on all skin tones, then Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 is amazing and serves as a great makeup-gripping primer. If your skin is more sensitive or even acne-prone, then I recommend any of our 100% mineral formulas–they’re gentle, while still being blendable, and they fit seamlessly into your routine.

What do you like most about running Supergoop! from San Antonio, Texas?  

Well first of all, it’s home for my family and me (and my husband and his family are from here). I also love our offices at Pearl, which is a former brewery that’s been transformed into a mixed-use, LEED-certified space with other small businesses, retail, dining and my favorite hotel, Hotel Emma (more on that below). It’s a wonderful place to work!

What is next for Supergoop? How do you see the brand evolving over the next 5 years?

Two words: major growth! 

Do you have a standard morning routine? We’d love to hear how you start your day, including your beauty routine!

I’ve always loved a great spin class but recently I made the commitment to add Pilates to my routine. Pilates hits your core like no other workout and it takes a lot of concentration so I’ve found I can’t zone out. I’m forced to forget about SPF for a full hour!

Usually during the summer months or when I’m not traveling I have a greek yogurt or scrambled eggs at home while looking through work emails and responding to Slack.

As far as my daily beauty routine goes, after my shower, I apply Forever Young Body Butter and a light mist of our Sun Defying Sunscreen Oil for body. For my face routine, I layer our SPF 40 Mineral Sunscreen, our SPF 37 Eye Cream, SPF 40 Matte Screen and SPF 35 CC Cream, followed by our SPF 45 Invincible Setting Powder. Plus a little mascara and lip color. And then get to the office mid-morning in time for our product development meetings. I love talking product, and as our team grows, this is one of the areas I stay really close to.

Are there any San Antonio restaurants and/or shops you’d like to recommend to our Texas-based readers?

I’m a big fan of Hotel Emma. Kit Goldsbury created something very special for San Antonio and it’s definitely not to be missed. Supper at Hotel Emma is my favorite lunch spot, or if I’m in a hurry I’ll pick up something to-go at Larder which is also at the Hotel Emma–it’s a sort of boutique grocery that has wonderful local baked goods, flowers and freshly-prepared foods to pick up, along with great iced coffee.

How do you balance work with motherhood? Any key tips for other working moms out there?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I’ve always had a clear vision and passion for what we are building, but I believe our success has come from me being able to rely on the right people at the right time. My kids are also a big part of what I do – I’ve taught them the importance of wearing SPF every single day (they love it, and fun fact, they’ve never had a sunburn!). My first mineral formula was also inspired by my daughter Emery’s sensitive skin. And then this summer, I brought her (now 13!) with me on a Sephora Road Trip that I did in the NYC area, and she basically talked to the staff more about our products than I did! We had the best time.

Thank you so much Holly for your sharing your time and knowledge with us all.  I’m sharing my personal Supergoop! products below.  (The mouse is the easiest to apply on kids and their Unseen goes on perfectly under make-up!  I keep the setting powder in my purse to reapply on top of make-up through out the day.)

Do you have any follow up questions for Holly related to sun protection? Leave them in the comments below!