For supermodel Winnie Harlow, maintaining clear, healthy skin is vital as the cameras follow her on and off set. And considering her vitiligo, protecting Harlow’s skin from the sun is especially important. However, drying skin condition or not, making sure you invest in good sun care products is essential to everyone, which is why we’re very excited to unveil Harlow’s brainchild that’s been in the works for more than two years, CAY SKIN.
Traveling the world for photoshoots is Harlow’s lifestyle, and although it can be partly glamorous, there’s also many not so glamorous moments that don’t make it to Instagram. In fact, the founding story of CAY SKIN is a prime example of unseen circumstances that models push through, however, Harlow turned a photoshoot tragedy into treasure.
“It all started in 2018, I was on set for a shoot on the beach for two days from sun up to sun down in the Bahamas,” Harlow tells ESSENCE. “I’m Jamaican, but Jamaica has nothing on Bahama sun – it is hot. By the end of the second day, I was so scorched because on set nobody really wanted me to reapply sunscreen because it didn’t look good. There were blue casts, silver casts, and purple casts that just left a bad tone on my skin, and so I was left with horrible sunburn that doctors had to treat.”
She continued, “I was disappointed in myself for not applying sunscreen, but also disappointed that there was nothing out there that gave me the look that I wanted and the protection that I wanted, so I decided to take it into my own hands and create CAY.”
Inspired by Harlow’s Caribbean heritage and her vitiligo, CAY SKIN is a lightweight, breathable skin, sun and body care brand that uses gentle, island-based ingredients to protect all skin tones and types. “CAY is named after cay as in the Caribbean, like little islands,” Harlow explained. “I just wanted the first brand that I created to represent me and be something that I could be really proud of. Not only is the name representative of where I’m from, but also I have ingredients in here that are representative like sea moss and hydrating nectar.”
The brand’s launch includes four products, a range of sunscreens and skincare products that are designed for everyone under the sun, and expertly formulated to keep all skin tones and types protected, glowing and without any white cast. CAY SKIN is creating a new standard of daily suncare with a range of lightweight, vegan formulas that are comfortable to wear. “I wanted to make sure it was good to use for people who have sensitive skin, who have vitiligo, who are light, dark, any color under the sun,” said Harlow. “I wanted it to be beneficial for everyone because everyone needs sun care and protection from the sun.”
Aside from ingredients, the Jamaican-Canadian supermodel ensured she considered all people in more ways than one when creating CAY SKIN – even down to the appeal. She touched on the decision to lean away from making the brand’s aesthetic super girly, and opting for neutral tones instead. “I wanted to make sure everyone felt comfortable putting this on their countertops and making sure they were making themselves a priority by protecting their skin,” she said.
In addition to guarding the skin from the sun, Harlow guarantees that each product will nourish the skin simultaneously. Building the line with intention in every facet has led CAY SKIN to leave no gaps unfilled. “I never want to fit into a mold,” Harlow says. “I like to find a gap that needs to be filled and fulfill that. So the same way I came into the modeling industry and saw there was a lack of diversity and wanted to be a part of the movement of fixing that is the same way I saw this gap in the cosmetics industry, where there wasn’t something that I felt everyone could use, feel protected with and feel sexy.”
CAY SKIN is available for purchase now at cayskin.com and will be exclusively available at Sephora starting in April 2022. Discover and shop the full CAY SKIN release ahead.