Where The Spa Meets The Sea: Get To Know People4Ocean

Louise and Austin from People4Ocean on a boat

People4Ocean believe that everyone should invest in their skin health, but that it doesn’t have to be done at the expense of the natural world around them. Whilst many other sunscreen brands contain ingredients that are harmful to humans and pollute the planet, People4Ocean is an awe-inspiring, all-natural alternative.

Tried and tested under the Australian sun and some the world’s strongest UV's, People4Ocean combines the best organics & botanicals from the world of skincare and spa, and goes above and beyond the industry’s standards in safety.

But perhaps just as interesting, is the family backed origin story, and the passionate partnership at the heart of the business. Husband and wife duo Louise Laing and Austin Laing-Herbert are experienced marine scientists in their own right, as well as coral restoration consultants and campaigners. With the ocean as a common interest, their burgeoning relationship and the subsequent starting up of the company only pushed their passion further.

So, if you’re keen to know more about People4Ocean and what makes them the best choice for sun care, read on for our in-depth chat with co-founder Louise…

1. Who are the people behind People4Ocean and how did the brand come about?

Austin and I became partners a little while before starting the People4Ocean adventure. We met back in 2012 on the Great Barrier Reef while studying coral reefs and tropical ecosystems at James Cook University in Queensland. In 2015, we travelled to the Indian Ocean to coordinate a USAID funded, large-scale reef rehabilitation project in Seychelles. We dedicated the following years to protecting hectares of pristine coral reefs and bringing it back to life after the devastating impacts of the 2016 mass coral bleaching event.

The idea for People4Ocean Sun Care followed scientific findings on the lethal impacts of chemical UV-filters on corals, adding to the long list of threats responsible for the decline of reefs worldwide. When returning to Australia in 2018, we were determined to raise awareness on the issue. We created People4Ocean Sun Care to provide an alternative to chemically loaded sun protection, and give ‘sun-block’ a new dimension by donating to reef conservation with each sale.

People4Ocean wouldn’t be what it is today without Austin’s mother Jean DC Laing and her daughter Kristen Laing-Herbert, pillars of the skincare brand LaGaia UNEDITED and People4Ocean product partners. In 2018, we co-created the People4Ocean range, infusing years of experience and science into the making of naturally performant sun care solutions that holistically help skin with sun stress and beyond. 

2. What products do you sell?

We offer a range of premium sun care solutions, including face & body sunscreens, zero-waste zinc sticks and sun recovery gels. All our products meet our strict requirements for sustainability, safety, ethics, and respect for aquatic ecosystems, including coral-reefs. We formulate our sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide, widely recognized as the #1 broad-spectrum sun protection ingredient by the TGA and FDA. It is reef-safe and – unlike any other UV-filter – its concentration in a product has no limit.

People4Ocean sunscreens and zinc sticks in a canvas pouch

3. What are the company values and what does ‘protect more than your skin’ mean?

As a company, we aim to end sunscreen pollution, both on our skin and within our oceans. The latest scientific research shows that several sunscreen chemicals contained in mainstream sunscreen products raise health concerns and are proven environmental pollutants. When applied to the skin, these chemicals are designed to penetrate the epidermis to absorb UV-rays. However, they have also shown to enter our bloodstream and cause disruptions within the endocrine system and reproductive organs. Subsequently, the same chemicals enter our oceans and water ways, when washing off our skin or via sewage waters.

Over the last three decades, the use of sunscreens and cosmetics containing UV-filters has dramatically increased (and will increase further). Today, they can be detected in virtually every aquatic ecosystem on the planet, further bioaccumulating in the oceanic food chain.

Our company’s motto “Protect More Than Your Skin” means that we go beyond simply offering sun protection solutions. Using P4O products means you are choosing ingredients safe for your skin, respectful of your health and harmless to aquatic ecosystems.

Furthermore, your purchase helps preserve endangered reef ecosystems as we donate to rehabilitation projects worldwide with every sale.

4. What makes People4Ocean different or better than other sunscreen brands?

Because of its unique story and mission, People4Ocean is so much more than just a clean sunscreen brand. It is the only reef-safe sun care co-formulated by reef scientists and spa skincare creators, resulting in what we think is the most sophisticated, safest and ocean-conscious sunscreen on the market.

5. How are your products sustainably sourced / made and why is it important to you?

Applying sunscreen shouldn’t cost the environment, and as marine biologists we have a deep understanding of the different impacts the skincare industry can have on our planet, from poor ingredient sourcing and carbon heavy manufacturing, to environmental contamination and packaging afterlife.

At P4O we commit to the following manufacturing principles:

  • 100% Australian made formulas and tubes - not many sun care brands can say the same! 
  • All natural ingredients, locally sourced to our best capabilities.
  • Sugar cane derived packaging - further reducing the carbon content of our tubes.
  • Made using solar energy - minimizing the use of fossil energy and reducing our carbon emissions in the process!
  • Supporting a forest regeneration project - People4Ocean is excited to be part of a world-first, sustainable forest project initiated by our tube manufacturer Impact Tubes.

The forest plantation is home to 20,000 trees in NSW to offset the carbon emissions of our packaging. This area is also home to endangered and vulnerable animal species and native vegetation that will be preserved or rehabilitated through this project.

Louise and Austin restoring reefs underwater

6. Who do you think the ideal People4Ocean customer is and why?

We created our products with everyone in mind and formulated the range to be gender and age neutral. In other words, our sunscreens can be trusted and enjoyed by the whole family, even the youngest! A P4O customer want to better protect their skin and the environment as they are usually aware of the issues. And of course, most customers are attracted by the quality, ease of use and wonderful smell of our sunscreens.

7. If People4Ocean could be endorsed by a celebrity/public figure, who would it be, and why?

We have so many incredible names in mind, and many are in the surfing world (such as Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore and Owen Wright). We love them because of their deep connection to the ocean and daily need for sun protection 

8. What’s next for People4Ocean? Can you tease any new products on the horizon?

There is a lot to come for P4O in the near future. The P4O range currently comprises of 5 products and we constantly have new product developments in the pipeline to keep up with consumer trends (with plans to reach in excess of 25 SKUs in the future). Some of these will include tinted sunscreen options, a baby range and many more zinc stick colours!

Another super exciting development for our team is the upcoming transition to plastic-free packaging for the entire range, so stay tuned for more details to come…

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