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 • Opinion  • Exclusive Interviews  • The Beauty Brand Campaigning to Make Your SPF More Affordable

The Beauty Brand Campaigning to Make Your SPF More Affordable

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Main image – Hello Sunday

Once upon a time, beauty brands everywhere launched SPF products to protect the skin of their consumers, and then decided to give them a luxury price tag. 

Sure, this makes sense from a business point of view since everyone in the world needs SPF. But what about from the consumer’s point of view? If everyone should be applying SPF daily, then why make it so inaccessible? 

This is a view shared by Amy Ford, and is her reasoning behind launching her affordable, multifunctional (and quite frankly, gorgeous) SPF brand Hello Sunday, of which she is CEO. 

In fact, she feels so strongly about not overcharging for what she views as a basic right, that she is campaigning for the UK government to do as Australia does: Scrap VAT from SPF products to make them accessible for everyone. It’s genius. And begs the question of why nobody in the UK started doing something about it sooner.


Hello Sunday CEO Amy Ford. Image – Hello Sunday


Here, we chatted to Ford about how she ended up campaigning for what we’ve all been thinking, where she thinks brands sometimes get it wrong and how she is trying to change the shape of SPF so that it can become less luxury item, more affordable necessity.


The path to SPF

England born Ford has always had a part to play in the beauty industry and it’s where her passion for skincare began. After moving to Australia in her early twenties and living there for 8 years, she started off at L’Oreal and has been working with skincare and cosmetics ever since. 

“I was working in the consumer division so I’ve always worked on the more mass brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal Paris,” she explains. “Making sure you can have great quality products but still at really accessible prices is something that’s really important to me, something I really enjoy and it’s so important.”

It was the attitude to SPF in Australia that made her sit up and listen. “In Australia, everyone is super aware of sun damage, and it’s really ingrained in them as kids,” she says. 

“They do this campaign [called] Slip Slop Slap. It’s a government campaign and everyone knows to use [SPF], although still not always every day. You could really notice people 10 or 15 years older than me who look so aged with dark spots and pigmentation, and I knew a lot of people with cancers cut out of their face.”

Whilst doing a training session on anti-ageing at L’Oreal, Ford had an epiphany about what the answer to what she likes to call ‘healthy ageing’ was. “I was like, ‘what do I need for wrinkles?’ And I realised that SPF is the number one beauty secret for health.”


Setting up a brand

After moving home to England, Ford needed to figure out what to do next. “I was really lucky that I met two entrepreneurs in the beauty space who said, “what would you do if you were to set up a brand?” and it just basically came out like word vomit,” she explains.

“I hadn’t really thought about it, but it had obviously been in my head that there’s such a gap around SPF.”

And crucially, she had noticed other brands making huge errors. “All the packaging looks like the beach,” she says.  “Everything is blue and yellow and it is so boring when you walk into a store. People kind of know they need to use it but they’re not bothering to do it.”


Image – Hello Sunday


And that’s where the concept of Hello Sunday began. “I thought ‘how can we create something that is super easy to use, that fits into your routine with makeup so that it’s not an extra step?’,” she explains. 

“’How do I make something that’s multifunctional and that leans into the price and the accessibility since people want so much from one product now and they don’t want those five step routines? And something that will also visually stand out and look different?’” 

The entrepreneurs latched onto Ford’s idea and helped make something happen. “When you work in a big company, you get a lot of skills but not actually starting something from scratch, I don’t know how to do that,” she says. “So having those people that guide you and help you to bring your idea to life is obviously very helpful.”


Well, Hello Sunday

So now that her brand is in full swing, how does she make it stand out from the rest? First, it’s the packaging. “We’ve created something that looks extremely visually different from other brands,” explains Ford. 

“The first thing that people look at is the packaging. They’re just drawn to it in store and [ours] really does stand out versus the other brands because of the bright pastel colours.” So much so that even the likes of Sephora, Space NK and Cult Beauty are now stocking them.

“I think that’s why retailers have been like ‘oh this is pretty’ and then when I’ve explained more about the brand and what we’re about they say, ‘oh that’s cool’ and ‘we don’t have anything like that’.”

But it’s not just the packaging that makes Hello Sunday a cut above the rest. “Everything that we have is completely multifunctional. It’s your broad-spectrum protection plus your skincare in one and we have a range of different formulas and formats to suit all skin types and skin tones.”


Image – Hello Sunday


There are plenty of products available, and they all contain SPF. “We have eye creams, hand creams, lip balms, and we like making sure people know that SPF is not just for your face, it’s for everywhere.”

Ford says that there are numerous skincare and makeup brands that have launched an SPF product, but the difference is that, unlike Hello Sunday, they’re not SPF-focused. “I think we stand out because this is what we’re famous for. We want to own the SPF hybrid space. We’re not trying to do everything, we just want to do SPF in your daily routine and do it really well.”


Image – Hello Sunday


And most importantly, she makes it affordable. “I always say SPF is a right, not a privilege. A lot of people can’t afford more expensive SPF or if they do buy it, they often don’t use enough because they want it to last, and that’s just the opposite of what you should be doing,” she explains. Precisely.

So, while we’re at it, how should you be applying your SPF? “You need two fingers worth and you should be reapplying frequently,” she advises. Every two hours is the most common advice. “If you’re using these products properly, they should go in under a month, essentially. And for a lot of people, spending close to £40 on a moisturiser is too much for an extra step.”


Being affordable and staying affordable

Keeping your prices lower than other perhaps more well-known SPF brands is tricky. “It’s always hard because we’re a new brand. We’re still small, so we don’t have the huge buying powers of some of the bigger guys. But we’ve prioritised value for the customer,” she says.

“And as we grow, we’re trying to focus on how we do that more and more and make sure that it’s just easy for [consumers] to put into the routine both from a price perspective and by cutting down that extra step as well.”


The VAT campaign

Ford is clearly passionate about affordable products, particularly SPF. And because of her experience living in Australia, she takes inspiration from there. 

“In Australia there’s no VAT equivalent on SPF because it’s an essential health item,” she says.  In the UK, we are charged an extra 20%. “It’s insane how much extra cost that adds to the product, and it creates another barrier for people to purchase.”

So, last year Ford decided that she wanted to give this issue a bit more airtime. “Something we started, to try and bring it a bit more to the forefront, was to have a VAT free offering on our website, and we’re amping up our efforts on that again this year,” she says.


Image – Hello Sunday


“We’ve also been trying to support others advocating for VAT free such as  Melanoma Focus and Amy Callaghan, an MP, and we co-signed a letter she organised that went to Parliament.”

And Ford isn’t stopping there. “We have launched a year-round VAT-free section on our website to basically fund the difference until we see any change in policy,” she explains. “We’re a small brand, but we’re trying to do what we can to help with what we think is a wider issue in the UK.”


User friendly products

It’s all very well giving your brand a strong message and doing good work behind the scenes but sooner or later, a brand can fizzle out if its products don’t deliver. But Ford has every confidence in them, particularly because the brand has another benefit that almost no other SPF brands can claim; it offers something for every skin type.

“We first launched with six products, and at that point we were like, “’these work for all skin types’”, she explains. “We realised as we started looking at feedback that it’s a lot harder for some skin types. If you think about cosmetics, an eyeshadow palette is an eyeshadow palette but for someone with acne or oily skin you’re not going to get the same effect from the same skincare products as someone with dry skin will.”

So, she expanded the range. “We have a product that’s more for those with dry, balanced, or combo skin, then we have one for oily, acne prone skin and we now have the mineral one for sensitivity which is also very good for acne prone,” Ford says.  

“The important thing is that we provide options for as many people as we can and help them and educate them to navigate what they really need.”


Image – Hello Sunday


The range is now full of handy, multi-taskers. “We’ve got a mineral eye cream (perfect for sensitive skin types) which has a non-cosmetic tint and gives a brightening effect under the eye,” Ford explains

“We also have a mineral shimmer stick, which I love because I feel like a lot of mineral formulas miss all the fun of other cool formats within chemical sunscreens. It gives a pearlescent glow on the skin so you can use it on your face and body. 

I really love it for my neck and chest and my arms as well.  I get more of a pearlescent glow [with it], whereas people with darker skin get more of a golden sun-kissed glow.” *Adds to basket*

Making it easier for users to reapply the products is key for the brand too. “We have an invisible stick which is sweat and water resistant and it’s such a good product to go in your handbag,” Ford says. 

“It’s also great for travel because they’re not liquid so you can put as many [as you like] in your bag. Sticks are also more invisible – you can just rub it on and you’re good to go without them leaving a stain on clothes.”


The highlights

Whatever you do in life, there’s nothing like having that ‘pinch-me’ moment when you realise you’re doing something right. For Ford, it was when she made her first sale.

“After working on the launch for 18 months, I had Shopify on my phone. The first press piece went live and my phone went off and it did that sound that says someone has just ordered and I cried,” she recalls. “I was like ‘oh, my God, someone’s read about it, and they want to buy it’, and that makes me happy.”

The brand going in-store was a big deal for Ford too. “Having that acceptance into Sephora was a huge milestone and going into the first store in Times Square and seeing everything in the flesh was really amazing,” she says.

But let’s face it, most of the time it’s the approval from those closest to you that means the most. “We have a big family WhatsApp group with around 25 of us and some of them live in Texas,” she explains.  “Before I had a chance to get to the US, my auntie and cousin sent a picture to the family group saying, “first person in Texas to buy Hello Sunday”.  The family seal of approval – a true accolade!


The takeaway

Isn’t it a shame that it took an albeit savvy, yet small business owner like Amy Ford to recognise that a change in how much we pay for SPF was needed? Where are the bigger brands in all this who have the platform (and finances) to make a noise too? Surely there is nothing more important than health.

The more brands who campaign to make SPF more affordable and wearable, the more people will be able to buy it, apply it and get the life-saving skin protection they need. Ford’s attitude to skin health, as well as her brand’s multifunctional and affordable SPF products should be an inspiration to everyone.

We don’t have knowledge of what changes will be made down the line when it comes to how SPF is priced. But we do have brands like Hello Sunday to thank for these changes potentially being on the horizon. 


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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