Winnie Harlow Couldn't Find a Sunscreen She Liked — So She Made Her Own

You aren't going to want to sleep on the launch of Winnie Harlow’s new sun-care brand.

Winnie Harlow Skincare Line CAY

Some business ventures just make total sense, and supermodel Winnie Harlow launching a sun-care brand is one of them. "I've been wearing sunscreen my whole life," she says, noting that her mom would always preach the importance of sun protection.

Harlow's relationship with the reapply-every-two-hours routine hasn't exactly been positive, though. "I have childhood memories of visiting my dad in Jamaica and having him slather sunscreen on me with his rough hands — he's a mechanic — and it was a bad experience," she recalls. "I always hated the purple cast it left on my skin." As those with dark skin tones know well, many white sunscreens never completely rub in and often leave a purple-y tint behind. "Because of that, I wasn't allowed to wear sunscreen when I was modeling at a shoot in the Bahamas," says Harlow. "After two days I was so badly burned that I had to have doctors come to the hotel and give me injections for pain and inflammation. It was a really traumatic experience." As awful as the ordeal was, it did give her an idea. "I was so disappointed that there wasn't a sunscreen on the market that would protect my skin and make me feel beautiful, sexy, and glowy. I didn't love any of the ones I used. So, I created one." Actually, after two and a half years of hard work, she's created four different sunscreens. Yesterday Harlow launched CAY Skin, a brand that aims to eliminate the common unpleasantries associated sunscreen formulas.

Each of these SPF formulas — a forthcoming body oil, two face lotions, and a lip balm — work for all skin tones. "It's such a thing in the Black community to feel like we don't need sunscreen because of our melanin," says Harlow. "I want to squash that myth. None of us have enough melanin to protect ourselves from UV rays." (It's a misconception that dermatologists are trying to debunk, as well.) The inclusivity within her line doesn't stop there. "I purposely made these genderless and ageless," says Harlow. "I wanted my boyfriend to put this on his countertop and feel like it fit his aesthetic. Same for my mom."

The products have fit right into her wellness routine. Harlow's morning begins with a green juice — "ideally made with kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, ginger, and lemon," she says — and her CAY Skin Isle Glow Face Lotion (Buy It, $32, "It has this beautiful golden glow to it," she says, noting that the chemical sunscreen lotion isn't sparkly. "I didn't want to look like I was going to a rave every day." Then she applies her Isle Lip Balm (Buy It, $14, "I wanted something that was going to smell amazing, feel amazing and also protect to my lips," she says. "This has an SPF 30."

If you prefer mineral sunscreen, Harlow's brand has you covered. The CAY Skin Universal Mineral Face Lotion (Buy It, $34, has a yellow tint that blends into a wide range of skin tones. "The color comes from the antioxidant we added to the formula," she explains. The plant-based ingredient, called rutin, is found in fruits and vegetables such as apples and green tea and helps protect against damaging free radicals. "The chemists kept saying that they'd fiddle with the formula to get rid of the yellow tint, and I was like, 'Wait, don't — it's natural, good for your skin, and blends in beautifully,'" she says.

Harlow says she considers skin care an important step in her wellness routine and believes the ritual keeps her at her most confident. "I feel best when I'm taking care of myself," she says. "And you can't fake great skin." Her other mood-boosting move is going to the gym. "Well, I don't feel my best at the gym because I don't like cardio, but after I've gone to the gym I feel incredible," she says. And when she gets the chance, she heads to Jamaica: "I love to feel the sun and the tropical breeze and sand between my toes" — with sunscreen on, presumably.

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