Sunny Skin Is the SPF Brand Made By, and For, Beauty Therapists

From humble beginnings as a beauty therapist, to now distributor and brand founder, Danielle McDonald has been busy. The industry expert chats to Hannah Gay on the launch of her skin-loving SPF range.

Hannah Gay: Firstly, congratulations on last year’s launch of Sunny Skin! I understand you’re a skin therapist, Danielle. What prompted you to launch an SPF-specific business over a more general skincare brand?

Danielle McDonald:There were so many factors and it was kind of accidental. As a beauty therapist performing many facials and talking to my clients I noticed that a lot more people were mentioning screen time, not just at work but while watching Netflix on an ipad in bed – those sorts of things. So I started investigating the over-exposure of blue high-energy visible (HEV) light on the skin and eyes. 

At the same time, our son was going through severe eczema and I needed a sunscreen that was also very healing, very protective and suitable for any skin journey. I’m a big fan of zinc therapy in the treatment room. I also absolutely love microneedling and wanted a finishing sunscreen that supported that kind of controlled inflammation without any potential risks. In our industry we already have so many incredible skincare brands, but I saw that there was space for a sunscreen that was designed for our professional beauty industry.”

How long did it take for you to get your business off the ground?

“It took about a year to launch, but it definitely wasn’t smooth sailing. We had a major packaging fail because I wanted to use an airless pump that kept our sunscreen super hygienic for us in the treatment room, but unfortunately that didn’t work too well so we went back to the drawing board. We relaunched in August 2022 with our new airless twist cap tubes which have been very well received; we are so grateful to all the salons and clinics who are supporting us again.”

What differentiates Sunny Skin from other SPF brands in the market?

Whenever I create a sunscreen product, I look at how I can positively impact someone’s skin. I look at ingredients that not only have those high protective abilities but if, like zinc oxide, they can double as a skin healing ingredient then that is the kind of formulation for me. You could definitely put Sunny Skin in a low tox category but it is much more than that – it’s full of ingredients that promote healing and repair.”

You’ve opted to partner with other beauty salons in stocking Sunny Skin. What prompted this move over stocking with non-professional retailers?

Sunny Skin sunscreens are better understood by skin professionals, especially those supporting inflammatory skin conditions every single day. We’re not like other sunscreen brands; I won’t create something just because a popular type of UV filter performs better in consumer tests. It must tick all the right boxes and support long-term skin health otherwise I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it.”

Danielle McDonald, founder of Sunny Skin

I understand your products contain ingredients known to be beneficial to the skin, such as zinc, iron oxide and plant oils. Tell us about this.

I fell in love with zinc oxide as a beauty therapist, not just for its UV protective ability but for its healing and re-epithelialisation properties; it’s probably one of the most underrated ingredients out there. When I’m working with inflammation in the skin it is always a core component of a homecare regime.

Iron Oxide, which can be found in our Glow Filter Bronzing Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF50, not only gives the skin a beautiful glowy skin finish but it is also one of those booster ingredients that is thought to help mitigate the effects of blue HEV light.

I chose plant oils and waxes over ingredients like silicone because plant oils like jojoba and squalane give the skin vitamins compared to silicones which can make the skin feel nice but there is no nutritional value for the skin. So basically it is a water-free formula, filled with lipids and waxes that contain a nutritional profile that is so good for the skin and the barrier.”

I hear the brand has found success overseas! What has the brand’s presence in North America looked like so far, and why have you chosen to expand to this location?

Yes this was a little unexpected but we noticed a lot of traffic and orders when Allergic Living – a US publication – recommended us as one of their allergy friendly sunscreen picks for 2022. So we quickly started the process with the FDA to get them registered and have just launched a pop up at Showfields Miami in Florida so aestheticians can go and experience them in person. We also have a warehouse in Las Vegas, Nevada so that our US customers can now get their Sunny Skin so much quicker.”

Outside of Sunny Skin, I also understand you have a role with Australian distribution company, Spa Circle. Can you briefly describe your role with this business and what Spa Circle’s ethos is as an Australian distributor?

“When I was solely a beauty therapist, I was performing facials and importing the brand Esthemax for their amazing jelly and hydrojelly masks just for my clients. In 2019, the CEO of Esthemax asked me if I’d like to help them expand in Australia and look after distribution exclusively. I was really nervous because all I knew about was my life inside a day spa, but my husband Brad jumped in, and we launched a distribution company together. We’ve been operating since 2019 but recently had the opportunity to represent emerginC and work with Ian Lirenman who is such an incredible force in the professional beauty industry, so we decided to relaunch under Spa Circle. As a distributor, our focus is in the treatment room and creating better experiences for clients. I look after education but I’m also really passionate about the business side so I will often run free workshops for our inner circle on topics like website optimisation, service menu optimisation and Christmas salon marketing.”

To stock Sunny Skin at your beauty business, register via this link.

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