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Meet Ultra Violette, the emerging skinscreen label that makes prioritising our SPF routines a whole lot more enticing.


From their home base of Melbourne, Australia, Ultra Violette co-founders Bec Jefferd and Ava Matthews let The Style Sheet in on everything from what it’s like launching a beauty brand during a pandemic to how to decipher which sun protection is best for you.


1. You’re both from Australia, the sunburnt country! Has wearing sunscreen been ingrained in you from a young age?


Ava: We’re told almost from birth to ‘slip slop slap’, which means wear sunscreen and hats. When you’re younger, your parents are the ones who apply it for you but as you grow up and sun protection becomes your responsibility, I think that’s where it can slip. For me personally, I wasn’t invested in daily use of SPF until my mid-twenties. It’s something I wish I’d been more on top of from a much younger age!

Ava Matthews and Bec Jefferd, co-founders of beauty brand Ultra Violette
Ultra Violette founders Ava Matthews (left) and Bec Jefferd (right)

2. You launched not long before the pandemic. What unique challenges did you face?


Bec: We launched Ultra Violette in January 2019, so we had a good year of sales before the pandemic started to take effect. Challenges we faced included launching into retailers outside Australia such as JOYCE Beauty during a period of ongoing lockdowns. It also meant we weren’t able to travel to Hong Kong and visit the market. I’ve always loved Hong Kong (oh, the shopping!) and can’t wait to get there and see our products in store (and a few other stores while I’m there!).


3. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your statement branding?


 

Bec: The Ultra Violette branding was inspired by cues from our childhood. In Australia in the 1980s and 90s, it was popular to wear fluorescent zinc on your face to stop your cheeks and nose getting burnt. I should say it was popular for parents to slather their kids with this — no one actually liked wearing the stuff! So our colours are a nod to the zinc creams of our childhood, and the blue is an iconic reference to the category (i.e. the sky).  

4. Ultra Violette is a skinscreen brand. Can you tell us a bit about the skincare element?


Ava: We made sure to include wonderful skincare actives in all our screens as we liked the idea of it being able to replace your daily hydrator or serums. We’ve included Kakadu plum (native to Australia and a potent form of vitamin C) in most of our screens, and all of them contain Pentavitin, which is a super powerful hydrator (more powerful than hyaluronic acid). 


5. What’s your beauty motto?


Ava: Take care of your skin first and everything else is just an accessory. I’m also a big believer in a great blush and bold brows to help anchor your face.

Ultra Violette beauty products
The brand’s products have quickly grown a loyal fanbase

6. Are there any role models within business you look up to? 


Ava: Whitney Wolfe, who created Bumble, is incredible — I’m so in awe of what she has built. Bumble is such an amazing brand. And she’s the youngest female self-made billionaire (without even having a tech background).


7. What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given?


Ava: Things take a lot longer and cost way more than you’ll ever think is possible. Failure in business is inevitable, so it’s what you do after that failure that counts. Everyone makes mistakes.


8. What’s the hardest part of running a beauty business?

Bec: I don’t know if there is anything specifically hard about running a ‘beauty’ business, but running a business has its challenging moments. Navigating a fast-growing brand and all that comes with that in terms of production, manufacturing and staying well-equipped with the best people and resources keeps you on your toes.


9. What’s been the most fun part?


Bec: Nothing beats seeing your brand in a new retailer. It just opens the doors to new people discovering the brand and hopefully finding a skinscreen that they love to wear every day. Actually, maybe one thing beats that… Earlier this month, we held a brand activation on Bondi Beach and hundreds of people joined us. It was truly awesome to meet customers and fans from all over New South Wales that had travelled for the event. That was the most fun part by far!


10. If we’re inside all day and it’s cloudy outside, do we really need to wear sunscreen?


Bec: Wearing sunscreen isn’t just to prevent getting sunburnt — it’s the best anti-ageing product you can use, and the ‘ageing’ rays (UVA) can penetrate clouds and windows. So if you care about ageing then the short answer is yes, you do need to wear sunscreen every day.


11. Where does sunscreen application come in one’s daily skincare routine?


Ava: SPF is the final step in your skincare regime before make-up, so it should be applied after (or instead of) moisturiser.


12. You have a mix of chemical and mineral sunscreens in your offering. What’s the difference?


Bec: Sunscreen actives are generally classified into inorganic (mineral) actives or organic (chemical) actives and the main difference is their texture resulting from the different SPF actives. Mineral sunscreens can be slightly thicker than chemical actives. Both work at protecting the skin from UVA and UVB rays. I usually recommend a chemical sunscreen (Queen Screen and Supreme Screen) if you prefer lighter textures that sink into the skin. Mineral sunscreens (Lean Screen and Clean Screen, the latter being a part mineral and part chemical sunscreen) are recommended for people who prefer a thicker texture or who have sensitive skin. Our mineral sunscreens also are fragrance-free, which can be better for skin that’s easily irritated.


13. What’s a common misconception about sunscreen?


Bec: People often think that mineral-based sunscreens are ‘natural’. There are two broad types of active sunscreen ingredients: mineral, such as zinc and titanium dioxide; and chemical, such as homosalate and Tinosorbs. Both types of sunscreen ingredients are effective, neither is ‘natural’ and it’s important you find the type that works best for your skin without any bias.


14. Should we be wearing SPF 30 and SPF 50?


Bec: Ultra Violette has a ‘wardrobe’ of sunscreens, so you can choose a product that suits your skin for different scenarios. I personally like to use Supreme Screen or Queen Screen for under make-up. I prefer to use Clean Screen or Lean Screen on my face if I’m exercising outside, as I like that they don’t have fragrance, and Extreme Screen is our body and hand SPF that I wear on my body if I’m at the beach or outside. All of our products are SPF50 except for Clean Screen which is SPF30 — I recommend wearing the highest SPF you can.


15. How much sunscreen should we actually be applying for it to be effective?


Bec: There’s actually no global standard for how much you need to use, so we primarily follow Australian guidelines and recommend applying 5 ml for each arm, leg, body front, body back and face (including neck and ears).


16. What’s your top beauty hack?


Bec: As SPF is an important part of every skincare routine and should be the last skincare product you use before make-up, my beauty hack is to start at the end of your routine with an SPF that you love and work backward to create a routine that works for you every day.

Ultra Violette beauty products
Ultra Violette brings a distinctive style influenced by Matthews and Jefferd’s Australian childhoods

17. You’ve just wrapped up an Australian summer. Which Australian beaches would you recommend when travel opens up?


Ava: Legendary Bondi Beach — North Bondi only. Hyams Beach on the New South Wales South Coast is just beautiful — it has long stretches of white sand and clear blue sea. Byron Bay has amazing beaches too. We’re in Melbourne and there’s not much that compares to those here, but anything along the Mornington Peninsula is a safe bet.


18. Are there any other fellow beauty brands available at JOYCE Beauty that you personally a big fan of?


Ava: I’m a HUGE Oribe fan — I buy it in one-litre pump packs! I also love my NuFACE — I used it religiously in the lead-up to my wedding last year.


19. Ultra Violette is very Instagram-worthy! Who do you enjoy following on Instagram and why?


Bec: Thank you! I love following the New York Times for news updates, Molly Baz for food and recipes, Pia Baroncini for lifestyle and Deuxmoi for a bit of celebrity gossip.


20. Where do you see Ultra Violette five years from now?


Ava: Global SPF Domination! We see the brand in more places around the world — Europe, South East Asia, China, Middle East, the US. We’re also expanding more into that fusion of skincare and make-up with some SPF tints launching later this year, so maybe an expansion of that category. We’re a young, agile business, so I think the opportunities for us are boundless.

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