Meet Dr Scott McGregor, skin cancer physician and co-founder of A-beauty sun care brand, We Are Feel Good Inc.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. The sun is extremely harsh here and we love being outdoors. With these factors in play, shouldn’t sun care be our top skincare priority?
Unfortunately for many, it’s not. This may be the case because many people don’t like how sunscreen feels on their skin. However, Aussie sun care brand We Are Feel Good Inc. is here to change that with a range of feel-good, effective sun care formulated for an active, outdoor lifestyle.
The idea for the brand was sparked during a camping trip in Western Australia. Six outdoor-loving friends including a skin cancer doctor, a builder, and a professional surfer, were sitting around a campfire chatting about the harshness of the sun’s rays and how the sunscreens on the market at the time weren’t very appealing. So, why not start their own brand of user-friendly, highly protective, feel-good sun care formulated to withstand the Australian climate and cater to an outdoor lifestyle?
Read on as skin cancer physician and co-founder of We Are Feel Good Inc., Dr Scott McGregor, shares the full fireside story behind We Are Feel Good Inc., the importance of wearing sunscreen daily, how the brand reduces its plastic footprint, and what is so inspiring about the great Australian outdoors.
Tell us about when you started We Are Feel Good Inc. and how the idea came to be what it is today?
“Our story started with three families on holiday in Gnaraloo, a remote campground in the northwest of WA, fishing and surfing in the harshest environment. Around a campfire one night, we were discussing how the sun is so brutal and that sunscreen must be very effective. We all agreed that current sunscreens on the market were not user friendly and sold in unappealing packaging. Why did sunscreen need to be boring? Why shouldn’t sunscreen feel good to wear? 18 months later we had our first products on the market.”
As a sun-smart skincare range, how does this ethos guide your brand and product development?
“As a skin cancer and cosmetic physician, I spent my days dealing with the damaging effects of the sun. For many years I have advocated for the daily use of SPF 50 sunscreen as the best way to prevent premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer. Sunscreen needs to be a part of our daily routine. Our mission is to help make sunscreen a part of everyone’s daily routine by providing user-friendly and effective products, as well as through education.”
How are sustainable and ethical practices incorporated into your business?
“Since inception, it has been incredibly important to us that we operated as ethically and as sustainable as we could, where we could. In Australia, sunscreen is considered either a cosmetic or therapeutic good, meaning our packaging must be either glass, aluminium, or food-grade virgin plastic. Glass was immediately out of the picture (as you shouldn’t have glass on the beach) and aluminium was quite limiting in what we could do with our range, which left us with plastic packaging. We wanted to come up with a program that would help us reduce our plastic footprint and then we found local not-for-profit, Precious Plastic Margaret River, which collects plastic bottle caps, shreds them and creates new, reusable plastic items. We thought this would be the perfect collaboration. So, we’ve asked some of our retailers across Australia to help us collect empty bottles and Precious Plastic are helping us recycle and turn them into new reusable plastic products.
““We pride ourselves in being an Australian-made and owned brand, with our manufacturers based in both Perth and Melbourne. We’re always on the lookout for native Australian ingredients that provide skincare benefits and meet testing and regulation standards, and Kakadu plum, for one, just made sense! Of course, we had to consider ethics when deciding to introduce a native Australian ingredient to the range. To stay authentically Australian, meant we needed to source the ingredient ethically to pay proper respects to the traditional landowners. Our supplier is a member of the Union for Ethical Biotrade, so the members of the company are committed to sourcing with respect for people and biodiversity, which is incredibly important for us to be able to trace where we are sourcing the fruit from.”
Shop: We Are Feel Good Inc. Kakadu Plum Sunscreen SPF 50+
Are there any ingredients you will never find in We are Feel Good Inc. products?
“As a brand, we try to steer clear of negative, or fear marketing. It is a trend at the moment to demonise certain ingredients and then somehow claim that your ingredients are ‘safer’ or ‘more natural’ without any scientific evidence to back these claims. We prefer to highlight the benefits of the great ingredients we use. If an ingredient is found in a TGA-licensed product, it is safe.”
What is the importance to you of being made in Australia? And why is it so unique in the beauty industry?
“Australia is world renowned for its innovation and expertise in skincare. Our products are formulated to work in the harshest environment and are regulated by the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration], which has some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to sunscreen. Needless to say, we are proud Australians!
“We just want to keep telling our brand story: where, how and why we started. Our brand is a reflection of where we live, our lifestyle and our love for the great outdoors. The inspiration for our colours comes from our beautiful backyard; the reds of the Pilbara, the blues of the ocean that surrounds us, the greens from our beautiful Boranup Forest and the browns from our rolling hills. This is the story we will keep sharing and building on.”
What changes have you seen in the Australian beauty industry and the ‘A-beauty’ category in recent times?
“Like I mentioned before, Australia has a reputation worldwide for its innovation and expertise in the skincare field. Also, Covid has had a major impact on the industry, creating an increase in demand for Australian owned and made goods. The pandemic (as we know) kept a lot of us at home and circulated much more disposable income. Businesses were closing for periods of time and had to become savvier with how and where to sell their products. Many have gone online where they wouldn’t have before, so we’re seeing an increase in accessibility to Aussie-made products from all over the world.
As a company, we’ve seen an increase in questions coming in from potential customers asking more about our brand origin. This has not only been locally from customers within Australia, but also potential customers and distributors globally.”
What excites you about the potential and future of Australian-made beauty and skincare products?
“Australia has a growing reputation for high quality and relatively strict regulations around its sunscreens and cosmetics, and this is known worldwide. Combine this with an ever-increasing range of amazing and unique native ingredients, the potential for Australian-made skincare is limitless and we are so excited to be playing a role in this.”
What is the one product you always recommend from your range?
“Any one of our SPF products, as the most important thing is that you wear SPF. The best sunscreen in the world is the one that you want to wear. So, as long as we’re providing a few options, and we have customers who want to wear our products, that’s what I’d recommend.”
What has it been like to build a business as a group of six friends?
“We were very lucky from the start to have six very passionate and talented people involved. Each person brought a different skill set that was essential in getting it right from the start. I believe we nailed all aspects from packaging design and product development to sales and marketing strategy and so on because of this. Currently, two of us remain working in the business, but our success was built on very solid foundations!”
What had you been doing in your career prior to founding We Are Feel Good and how did that experience translate to founding a skincare brand?
“Prior to We Are Feel Good Inc., and up until only two years ago, I was practicing as a skin cancer physician. I talked a lot about sunscreen to my clients every day, but I realise now how little I knew then. Making good sunscreen is a complicated science and understanding the chemistry of how all the ingredients come together to perform is next level. I see it as our duty as a sun care brand to help educate and to make sure we are using the best science and latest technology.”