New Brand Clean’s Mineral-Based Sunscreens Stand Out In A Shelfie But Not On Skin

From some beauty products, women will try brand after brand and still not land on a formula they like. Mascara is frequently frustrating. Foundation is another struggle. But sunscreen is perhaps the most disappointing product of all.

Tera Washburn’s sunscreen search always ended in an unsatisfactory purchase. Products would either contain chemical ingredients she hoped to avoid or leave a white cast on her skin. Instead of giving up on getting a sunscreen she adored, Washburn decided to create one. The result is Clean, a mineral-based sun-protection brand launching next week.

“I wanted to bring something to my consumers that I needed for myself, which was a sunscreen that was safe and rubbed in,” says Washburn, a former account executive at media companies. “It took me two-and-a-half years to find the right chemist and formulate. After 40 iterations of the product, we finally nailed it. We are super excited to share the sunscreen with everyone.”

Clean co-founder Tera Washburn
Clean co-founder Tera Washburn

Clean will be sharing two sunscreens with everyone: Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 Tint. The products are priced at $24 and $32, respectively. They have non-nano zinc oxide—oxybenzone and octinoxate, ingredients barred from Hawaiian stores starting in 2021, aren’t included—as well as red algae from Malibu and orange extract from Provence to enhance moisture retention, combat the effects of blue light emitted by cell phones and brighten skin.

“My competition has really strong points, but what makes us stand out is the ingredients we have that we sourced from places no one was sourcing from,” says Washburn, mentioning Clean’s slogan is “know what’s on your skin.” “We wanted our sunscreen to not only to be an SPF, but to be a beautiful product. It’s really giving you skin benefits.”

Clean aimed for a classic, chic and coastal packaging aesthetic. The brand hired artist Kate Schelter to execute its design concept. Its color palette consists of yellow, light blue and white. A minnow graphic that’s part of the logo resembles a C to hint at the first letter in the brand’s name.

“I wanted to bring something to my consumers that I needed for myself, which was a sunscreen that was safe and rubbed in.”

“We felt there was a lack of sunscreen brands that looked good enough in the medicine cabinet for a shelfie. There wasn’t enough out there that was really elevated, luxurious and clean-looking,” says Washburn. “When we were putting together the branding, we wanted it to be simple, and something everyone is drawn to.”

Washburn views Clean as a family brand. “We didn’t want mom to have to buy products for herself and, then, have to go again to the store and buy products for her children,” she says. “She doesn’t have to carry different sunscreens for different people.”

Clean is largely sticking to a direct-to-consumer business model to begin, although its goal is to secure a sizable retailer committed to the clean beauty segment within its initial year on the market. To grow brand awareness, Clean will be partnering with like-minded companies on social media initiatives. For example, it’s asking entrepreneurs the question, “What does clean mean to you?” and broadcasting the answers on Instagram.

Clean Sunscreen
Clean is launching with Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40 Tint.

Asked what clean means to her, Washburn responds, “To me, clean means safe ingredients, but also effective ingredients that give you results. We are not a company that is just going to throw a bunch of organic ingredients in a bottle and sell it. We do rigorous testing to make sure what we are combining is actually driving results.”

Expansion of its assortment is in the near future for Clean. A spray sunscreen and lip balm are product possibilities. For now, the brand isn’t straying from the sun-protection category as it hones an expertise in it. Washburn envisions Clean becoming known as a source of best-in-class sun-protection products and information about sunscreen.

“There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in this space right now from a consumer’s standpoint,” says Washburn. “We want to be a resource for people. They’ll be able to check in with us and say, ‘How do I decipher this as a consumer?’ We aren’t chemists and don’t have a 25-year beauty background. We are just passionate about what we do and want to make sure everyone is putting quality products on their skin.”