Special Edition: Advances in sun protection - skin science and ingredients innovation
Military precision: Danish startup launches ‘extreme condition’ sunscreen brand
Launched in Q3 2020 after two years of development, Operators Skincare offered an SPF30 and SPF50 sunscreen and an after-sun lotion – each designed in collaboration with “professional and hardcore outdoor enthusiasts” to ensure suitability in extreme conditions. Currently available online and across digital pharmacies and specialist skin care sites, the brand hoped to finalise listings in outdoor retail stores in Denmark once the COVID-19 crisis had eased.
A Special Forces ‘heritage’ – durable sunscreens for military services
The brainchild of former Danish Special Forces operator Johan de Renouard, Operators Skincare sunscreens had been formulated to withstand wind, water and extreme weather conditions, with a non-stick matte finish to avoid dust and sand settling on the skin. Importantly, the formulations had been designed to maintain efficacy over long periods of time.
“Our heritage comes from our service in the Royal Danish Special Operations Forces. The design thinking approach is a vital part of our brand DNA and our strategy for business development,” de Renouard, founder of Operators Skincare, told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
“We took on the challenge of creating a functional sunscreen that would take care of all the problems experienced under the desert and the arctic sun and allow soldiers to carry out their duty and perform at their best,” he said.
Testing in the Middle East and Greenland among military service men and women, he said, had proven sunscreen efficacy and durability, catering to specific needs like non-stick, fragrance-free and fast-absorption and providing packaging with easy grip.
Extreme sun care for ‘highly active’ lifestyles but also ‘outdoor adventures’
But Operators Skincare wasn’t just suitable for those in the military with “highly active” lifestyles, de Renouard said. These sunscreens were also ideal for consumers who enjoyed “outdoor adventures and sports” like hiking and trekking – an area where there was a clear gap in sunscreens, he said.
And with the COVID-19 crisis accelerating uptake of outdoor activities and extreme sports, he said there was a new swathe of outdoor consumers looking for durable and efficient sun protection.
“Being outdoors is no longer just for the traditional adventurers and explorers. Being outdoors in nature has [become] a safe-haven for all of us during lockdown,” de Renouard said.
“…Operators Skincare is based on the philosophy that if you are to carry out a mission or achieve your goal in sports, you need equipment that can go the distance in terms of quality and that also enables optimal conditions for you to perform at your absolute best.”
For the outdoors market, he said the product would likely draw in predominantly male consumers because it had been “designed from a very masculine standpoint”.
“…It is our experience that the traditional sunscreen brands available in pharmacies and skin care shops are mainly designed for women and children, leaving the men without an option for purchasing a more masculine sunscreen product.”
However, he said there would undoubtedly be uptake among women engaged in extreme sports or military services.
Growth plans – skin care beyond sun protection for military and extreme sports
Asked what the growth plan for Operators Skincare was over the next two to five years, de Renouard said: “We would like to establish Operators Skincare as a well-known brand within global outdoor and government users, and to become the household name for functional skin care made for men.”
The company had several new products in the pipeline, he said, including a face paint remover gel for military to easily remove camouflage and a fire-retardant skin cream to protect firefighters and military. The goal was to expand the total product offering to 10-15 products over the next few years, he said.
Importantly, de Renouard said Operators Skincare wanted to expand within and beyond Europe, securing distribution in specialist retailers, military and service equipment stores but also carve out representation in men’s skin care online across key e-commerce players like The Hut Group and Feelunique.