Meet the Marine Biologists Behind Australia's Best Spa Natural Sunscreen

Aug 28, 2023

Founders P4O marine biologists sunscreen

Introducing People4Ocean: Protecting Your Skin and the Planet.

We believe that taking care of your skin shouldn't come at the expense of our precious environment. That's why we're thrilled to introduce you to People4Ocean, an awe-inspiring brand that offers a natural alternative to sunscreen.

While many sunscreen brands contain harmful ingredients that not only can affect our health but also pollute the planet, People4Ocean has revolutionised sun care. Their products are tried and tested under the scorching Australian sun and the world's strongest UV rays, ensuring superior protection.

But what sets People4Ocean apart is their incredible origin story. Meet Louise Laing and Austin Laing-Herbert, the dynamic husband and wife duo behind the brand. Both experienced marine scientists, passionate coral restoration consultants, and philanthropists supporting Pacific Islanders who depend on the reef. Their love for the ocean fuels their commitment to creating safe and sustainable sun care solutions.

Join us as we delve into an in-depth conversation with co-founder Louise, where she shares the journey of People4Ocean and what makes them the ultimate choice for sun care. Get ready to be inspired by their dedication to both your skin health and the preservation of our beautiful planet.

Who are the people behind People4Ocean and how did the brand come about?

Austin and I became partners a little while before starting the People4Ocean adventure. We met back in 2012 on the Great Barrier Reef while studying coral reefs and tropical ecosystems at James Cook University in Queensland. In 2015, we travelled to the Indian Ocean to coordinate a USAID funded, large-scale reef rehabilitation project in Seychelles. We dedicated the following years to protecting hectares of pristine coral reefs and bringing it back to life after the devastating impacts of the 2016 mass coral bleaching event, by growing and propagating thousands of corals onto the recovering reef.

The idea for People4Ocean Sun Care followed scientific findings on the lethal impacts of chemical UV-filters on corals, adding to the long list of threats responsible for the decline of reefs worldwide. When returning to Australia in 2018, we were determined to raise awareness on this issue. We created People4Ocean Sun Care to provide an alternative to chemically laden sunscreens and give ‘sun-block’ a safer reputation.

People4Ocean wouldn’t be what it is today without Austin’s mother Jean DC Laing and her daughter – dermal clinician Kristen Laing-Herbert, pillars of the skincare brand LaGaia UNEDITED and People4Ocean product partners. In 2018, we co-created the People4Ocean range, infusing years of experience and science into the making of naturally performant sun care solutions that holistically help skin with sun stress and beyond. 

What products do you sell?

We offer a range of premium sun care solutions, including face & body sunscreens, zero-waste zinc sticks and sun recovery gels. All our products meet our strict requirements for sustainability, safety, ethics, and respect for aquatic ecosystems, including coral-reefs. We formulate our sunscreens with Eco-Certified non-nano zinc oxide, widely recognized as the safest broad-spectrum sun protection ingredient by the TGA and FDA. It is reef-safe and – unlike any other UV-filter – its concentration in a product has no limit. It also has the benefit to shield your skin from UVs with no penetration into the skin or your bloodstream which is why we find it so safe compared to chemical actives.

People4Ocean SPF reef safe sunscreen

What are the company values and what does ‘protect more than your skin’ mean?

As a company, we aim to end sunscreen pollution, both on our skin and within our oceans. The latest scientific research shows that several sunscreen chemicals contained in mainstream sunscreen products raise health concerns and are proven environmental pollutants. When applied to the skin, these chemicals are designed to penetrate the epidermis to absorb UV-rays. However, they have also shown to enter the bloodstream and cause disruptions within the endocrine system and reproductive organs. Studies have shown that UV-absorbers (such as benzophenones) can be detected in urine for over 48 hours after topical sunscreen application. Many more studies also detected sunscreen chemicals and parabens in semen, placenta and breast milk – which was a shock to us! Subsequently, the same chemicals enter our oceans and water ways, when washing off our skin or via sewage waters (after we pee it out!).

Over the last three decades, the use of sunscreens and cosmetics containing UV-filters has dramatically increased (and will increase further). Today, they can be detected in virtually every aquatic ecosystem on the planet, further bioaccumulating in the oceanic food chain.

Our company’s motto “Protect More Than Your Skin” means that we go beyond simply offering sun protection solutions. Choosing People4Ocean means you are making a long-term investment in your yourself and our oceans, with ingredients that are safer for your skin, respectful of your health and harmless to aquatic ecosystems.

Furthermore, it was important to us to link our purpose to the passion we have for our oceans, and the work we do on the reef. Since our launch in 2018, we have committed up to $1 for all product sold towards supporting community-empowering marine regenerative projects across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Sunscreen marine biologists protecting the reef

What makes People4Ocean different or better than other sunscreen brands?

Because of its unique story and our life’s purpose as founders, we believe People4Ocean to be so much more than just a clean sunscreen brand. It is the only sun care brand co-formulated by marine scientists and Australian dermal clinician, resulting in what we think is the most sophisticated, safe and ocean-conscious sunscreen on the market.

5. How are your products sustainably sourced / made and why is it important to you?

Applying sunscreen shouldn’t cost the environment, and as marine biologists we have a deep understanding of the different impacts the skincare industry can have on our planet, from poor ingredient sourcing and climaticide manufacturing, to ecosystem contamination and packaging afterlife.

At people4ocean we commit to the following manufacturing principles:

  • 100% Australian made formulas and tubes - not many sun care brands can say the same! 
  • All natural ingredients, locally sourced to our best capabilities.
  • Sugar cane derived packaging - further reducing the carbon content of our tubes.
  • Made using solar energy - minimizing the use of fossil energy and reducing our carbon emissions in the process!
  • Supporting a forest regeneration project - People4Ocean is excited to be part of a world-first, sustainable forest project initiated by our tube manufacturer Impact Tubes.

The forest plantation is home to 20,000 trees in NSW to offset the carbon emissions of our packaging. This area is also home to endangered and vulnerable animal species and native vegetation that will be preserved or rehabilitated through this project.

reef ocean conservation action SPF

Who do you think the ideal People4Ocean customer is and why?

We created our products with everyone in mind and formulated the range to be gender and age neutral. In other words, our sunscreens can be trusted and enjoyed by the whole family, even the youngest! People4Ocean customers want to better protect their skin and the environment as they are usually aware of the issues and are extremely educated on ingredients and clean living. What’s more, our growing community of lifelong customers love the quality, ease of use and divine spa-inspired aroma of our sunscreens.

If People4Ocean could be endorsed by a celebrity/public figure, who would it be, and why?

We are now looking at growing our community of ambassadors and are partnering with incredible individuals deeply connected to our oceans, from marine biologists, free divers and athletes.

What’s next for People4Ocean? Can you tease any new products on the horizon?

There is a wave of change coming your way! We have been keeping it under wrap but 2023 is going to be a turning point for our family-owned brand. Not only we are launching exciting new products, but we have also been working in the background on some game-changing new developments in formulations and initiated our transition towards plastic-free packaging across the range. More details to come in spring!

Welcome to A New Era in Sun Care

People4Ocean redefines sun care, offering a natural alternative to conventional sunscreens that can contain harsh chemicals.

Amidst a world where skincare often takes a toll on nature, People4Ocean rises as a beacon of change. Their products are rigorously tested under the relentless sun and UV rays, providing unparalleled protection.

Yet, the heart of People4Ocean lies in its extraordinary genesis. Their fusion of marine science and philanthropy has given birth to People4Ocean, an emblem of skin health and environmental accountability.

Every decision holds significance. Embrace a sunscreen that shields both you and our ecosystems—creating a win-win for us and the planet.


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