Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling BIPOC women and woman-aligned folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
By now, we all know the role SPF plays in protecting our skin from the sun. With the constant conversation and innovation around sunscreen, it is no wonder the market is predicted to reach a value of $10.8 billion by 2024.
Charlotte Pienaar is someone who has witnessed society's evolving attitudes towards SPF—from the early 2000s, where excessive tanning was a moment, to the now widespread understanding about the importance of daily sunscreen application. Watching this shift inspired Pienaar to create Everyday Humans, an inclusive, clean, and sustainable sunscreen brand. Ahead, Pienaar opens up about her mission to make sunscreen cool, the virality of her brand, and prioritizing inclusive formulas.
You've had the opportunity to travel everywhere from Hong Kong to New York. How did that influence the creation of Everyday Humans?
I'm originally from Hong Kong, but I've lived in quite a few places like New York and Australia. As you can imagine, these are places with a lot of sun. By this point, I was in my late 30s and noticed I was starting to get pigmentation induced by the sun. I wish someone would have told me in my 20s about the importance of SPF. In my generation, tanning was a huge thing. It was cool to be tanned, and now we're seeing the sun's aging effect on our skin. At the time, I remember thinking, Why isn't there a sunscreen brand that makes an 18 or 21-year-old think SPF is cool?
How did that inspire Everyday Humans?
Well, that made me think outside of the box. I wanted to create something interesting and that everyone would be proud to use. The legacy of sunscreen is rather boring and packed with science. I wanted to bring a cool factor to it and broaden the assortment. Everyday Humans is sustainable, eco-conscious, prioritizes inclusive formulas, and speaks to every customer.
You mentioned inclusive formulas. What does that mean?
I know the word inclusive gets thrown around quite a lot, but inclusivity starts at the formula for us. I know sunscreen doesn't work with a lot of skin tones. It can often be gray on Black and Brown skin, and on Asian skin, it can often be white. We wanted to find an agent that worked for all, hence Resting Beach Face ($24).
What inspired the product name?
Well, Resting Beach Face isn't so much about the mean face expression but more focused on the face being relaxed. It's about creating an SPF even the laziest skincare users can wear. It's a moisturizer and serum you can use underneath makeup. It's antioxidant-infused and has the protection you need from UV rays.
The brand has been a viral sensation all over TikTok. What is it about the branding that has made it so popular?
Honestly, it just happened so organically. I knew Everyday Humans needed to be unisex, and my inspiration came from outside the beauty industry. I love street style and culture, and that inspired the content and packaging, which organically got picked up by the younger demographic. This generation is very aware and responsible, so elements of the brand we had been conscious about—like being cruelty-free, vegan, using post-consumer recycled plastic, and working with charities—resonated with them.
Tell us more about your sustainability efforts and charitable initiatives.
Nobody is perfect, but we strive to take steps in the right direction. For us, it starts with the basics. Our formula is non-toxic. We work with organizations and initiatives that ensure we remove as much waste from the environment as we generate. We purchase our carbon credits to remove them from the atmosphere. We always go through our supply chain to ensure ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. We are proud of our results, such as being the first plastic neutral sunscreen brand and, more recently, climate-neutral certified brand.
What about the impact on the coral reefs?
It has been a very difficult journey to be completely coral-reef friendly. We started by banning the use of oxybenzone, octinoxate, and PABA in all of our formulas. These ingredients are particularly present in chemical sunscreens, so we wanted to move away from that and focus more on a mineral sunscreen formula with textural superiority. We are still pushing towards all our formulas being away from chemical SPF, but it's a process.
What has been the most challenging aspect of building Everyday Humans?
The registered regulations change all the time. We always want to be widely certified and ahead of the game, so being innovative and creating clean products is probably the hardest challenge. Consumers often want a product that is 100% waterless, housed in refillable packaging, and all-natural but don't realize it can degrade within a year without stabilizers. This type of balance is difficult to execute.
Would you say TikTok has helped build awareness of branding?
It definitely helps us in terms of content, influencers, and to some extent, can inspire packing and colors. However, TikTok has primarily been used for education, feedback, and transparency from the audience.
Would you say your background or heritage has influenced the brand?
My upbringing—from America and Hong Kong to Australia and Singapore—can be compared to cross-pollination. My identity is vast and that alone has translated into Everyday Humans. We can be from anywhere; even our market spans Scandinavia to the Middle East and China, which is interesting to me. Because of my background and the places I've lived, I'm not really from anywhere, but as a human, I belong. We're all everyday humans.
Because of my background and the places I've lived, I'm not really from anywhere, but as a human, I belong. We're all everyday humans.
What advice would you give to other founders?
Be true to yourself and remain authentic in the process. Many brands try to be many different things and lose who they are. For other emerging founders, I would say, build a brand that speaks to you. It may be a slower process, but authenticity always wins.
What can we expect from Everyday Humans in the future?
We are in the works of creating a post-sun product that targets sun-damage-related concerns. We're also pushing into treating pigmentation.