Kelly Slater’s New Sunscreen Is the Correct Choice This Summer

Introducing Freaks of Nature, a reef-safe serum that does everything right

A split image of Kelly Slater with sunscreen on his face, and a bottle of sunscreen from his new skincare company Freaks of Nature
Is that bottle of sunscreen worth $38? We say yes.
Freaks of Nature

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

The latest skin cancer statistics are staggering, especially among men. From 1995 to 2014, cases of head and neck melanoma in North America jumped by 51%. In separate research, young men were found to make up more than 60% of melanoma-related deaths. This gender disparity continues well into old age, too. As the American Academy of Dermatology reports, “By age 80, men are three times more likely to develop melanoma than women.”

Why are men more susceptible to the sun? There are biological factors at play — the thickness of male skin, for instance, may exacerbate the damage of UV rays. But most experts agree that the issue boils down to behavior: men spend a lot of time in the sun (working or working out), yet historically don’t take sun damage very seriously. Also, unlike women, men are infamous for “doctor dodging,” which makes it especially difficult to detect potential mutations.

This probably shouldn’t be so hard. Recognizing that a 4.6-billion-year-old ball of nuclear-fueled hot plasma has the capacity take years off your life isn’t a sign of weakness.

Regardless, it helps when notable men bring attention to this issue. And that happened this past week — in a big way. The GOAT of the ocean, Kelly Slater, just dropped a brand-new skincare line called Freaks of Nature.

We’ve had a chance to get a sneak peek at the stuff, which includes a moisturizer…and a mineral sunscreen we hope all the men out there will be applying copiously this summer.

If anyone knows a thing about the importance of skin protection, it’s this fella. Slater’s been surfing for almost 50 years.
Freaks of Nature

The Man Behind the Brand

In case you somehow have no clue who Slater is, he’s an 11-time World Surf League champion, and widely considered the greatest competitive surfer who’s ever lived. Suffice to say, he’s been under the sun his entire life: he grew up in Cocoa Beach, cut his teeth at Oahu’s Pipeline in his late teens and spent decades touring coastlines all around the world.

It’s worth noting that at the same time Slater was winning championships, he was losing his hair. So he’s had some extra skin to take extra good care of for a long time. Also, if you’ve spent any time at surf spots — in Hawaii or Australia, in particular — you’ll know that athletes and spectators take sun protection as seriously as possible.

The fact that Slater has launched a sun and skincare brand isn’t too surprising, considering he has a number of other businesses to his name. Chief among them: Outerknown, a sustainable menswear label we’re quite fond of at IH.

A Sustainable Sunscreen

As for the new brand, sustainability once again plays a key role. The ingredients in the sunscreens— Daily Defender (SPF 30) and Peak Performance (SP F50) — aren’t just meant to protect you; they’re meant to protect coral reefs, too.

The cheap sunscreens you’d find at CVS typically contain chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. Both have contributed to the heartbreaking “white death” that’s swept through the planet’s reefs. Basically, the chemicals awaken viruses in the coral, which makes them sick, which leads to their death.

This doesn’t just mean a less vibrant snorkeling experience; coral reefs constitute a vital ecosystem. Marine life counts on their survival, and so do we. A study released in 2014 found that coral reefs can absorb a shocking 97% of wave energy, which directly impacts waterfront communities from storm surges.

Freaks of Nature

The solution is a mineral-based sunscreen, which is what the folks at Freaks of Nature opted for here. The active ingredient in the brand’s sunscreen is zinc oxide. It touts 40 minutes of water resistance in the Daily Defender formula and 80 minutes in the Peak Performance options, and once it does wash off, it won’t bring any bad vibes to your beach day: the product is reef-compliant with Hawaii’s Act 104. As it turns out, mineral sunscreens are better for your skin microbiome anyway. Go figure.

This sunscreen is also vegan — taking inspiration from potent animal ingredients (like shark squalane and spider silk) without actually harming anything. It’s plant-based, all the way down.

It’s early in the season right now, but I’ve had a chance to test this sunscreen on a few bright days over the last couple weeks. It’s fantastic. It rubs in surprisingly well for how thick the serum is — and that’s coming from a guy who’s never totally clean-shaven. (Freaks of Nature appears to have sourced the expertise of an AI-powered skin mapper called HelloBiome.)

The only drawback here is the steep price, but that’s what happens when you’re not getting subsidized by the presence of microplastics. Freaks of Nature is doing everything right — and I think that makes it worth it. Skin cancer is nothing to fool around with, and neither are our oceans. Unless you’re surfing in them.

Find the sunscreen drop, and the new moisturizer too, right here.

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