A teenager's desire to create ocean-safe sunscreen has turned into college start-up on the San Diego State University campus. Naseem Kasraee, founder and CEO of Soul Spot Sunscreen officially launched her company last May with an all-natural sunscreen that protects the oceans along with your skin.
Kasraee, a surfer who grew up in Orange County, first learned about the harmful effects of mainstream sunscreen in high school. Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in many mainstream sunscreens, is effective at filtering UV rays, but it also poses both environmental and health threats. Kasraee found that oxybenzone causes coral bleaching, which can kill coral reefs and disrupt marine ecosystems, and can cause skin problems and act as a hormone disruptor in humans. She decided to make her own sunscreen and started experimenting with different ingredients and formulas.
At first, Soul Spot Sunscreen was a thick, clay-like formula, but over time, Kasraee perfected the formula into a cream that rubs cleanly in the skin. The thick consistency gives the sunscreen staying power, even against tough ocean waves. Soul Spot Sunscreen's active ingredient is non-nano zinc oxide, which provides strong sun protection and isn't associated with the environmental risks of oxybenzone-making the sunscreen completely reef-safe.
After her first year at San Diego State, where she is majoring in Business with a minor in Entrepreneurship, Kasraee decided to start selling her sunscreen to the public. She recruited her two of her friends, Nathan Yick and Griffin Holland, and they spent their sophomore year planning Soul Spot Sunscreen's launch. Yick is the VP of Marketing and Public Relations and Holland is the VP of Sales. "We're all really ambitious and passionate," said Yick. "We want to spread awareness of the environment and health effects of chemical ingredients and get people to care about the environment and health."
Soul Spot Sunscreen is entirely self-funded by the three partners. "Naseem has been saving all her life," Yick said, "and we took other jobs to fund the company." They make each tub of sunscreen in their own kitchens and strive to support the domestic economy with locally-sourced ingredients and packaging.
Soul Spot Sunscreen currently sponsors the SDSU Surf Team. The sunscreen can be purchased online and at a few local farmers' markets and stores, including the La Jolla Farmers' Market on Sundays and at La Jolla Swim & Sport and The Metta Space. If things go well, Yick said they hope to sell the sunscreen at more surf stores in the future. "We want to embrace and promote a culture of conservation," Yick said. "And the San Diego community is the perfect place to grow that."
Learn more about Soul Spot Sunscreen at SoulSpotSunscreen.com. Connect with Soul Spot Sunscreen on Facebook (facebook.com/soulspotsunscreen), on Instagram (@soulspotsunscreen) or Twitter (@soulspotsun).