Model Winnie Harlow was born in Canada to Jamaican parents and was used to moving between warm and cold climates. This taught her early about the importance of using a protective SPF product for her skin and experience with vitiligo. She remembers her father applying sunscreen to her skin during visits to Caribbean beaches as a child, and how her diagnosis of vitiligo at the age of four emphasized the importance of protecting her sensitive skin.
Her unique pigmentation became the topic of discussion in 2014 when she appeared on the television program “America’s Next Top Model,” which gave her career a significant boost. Harlow did not think about creating her own brand of skincare products until 2018, however, during lengthy photoshoots on a modeling job in the Bahamas that she recognized the inadequacy of available sunscreen products for people with darker skin tones. She was discouraged from applying sunscreen because it created an undesirable blue-silver shine on her skin. As a result, she suffered a serious flare-up and had to consult doctors and receive injections to mitigate the pain and inflammation that occurred. This experience made her realize that there was a market for another sunscreen product, and her brand Cay Skin was born.
Cay Skin entered the market with four products designed to meet diverse needs and preferences. There is an ultra-sheer SPF 55 mineral sunscreen made with zinc oxide, squalene, and sea moss. There is an SPF 30 body oil that is similar to the tanning mist of the 1980s but that offers modern protection. And there is Harlow’s personal standby, the Isle Glow SPF 45, which involves three broad-spectrum chemical filters in a luminous base. Harlow said she wears this under her makeup, but sometimes she wears it instead of makeup because it provides such a luminous glow. Cay Skin also offers an SPF 30 lip balm product that protects without the chalky texture common in other formulas.
The packaging of Cay Skin products isn’t only an element of attractive good taste; the pale peach and chestnut brown colors are matched to Harlow’s skin tones to remind customers that the brand offers a suitable product for everyone. The natural scent of Cay Skin products is meant to reflect a vacation vibe without the “artificial coconut” odor Harlow finds unappealing. All the ingredients pay homage to the Caribbean, including aloe vera, which Harlow’s mother used to cut fresh from the plant for application to mosquito bites and sunburn. Harlow participates in every aspect of the product, and while she acknowledges this creates demands on her time, she relishes the process and finds it rewarding.
Photo: Cay Skin