Struggle to find a decent facial sunscreen? Read on.


It’s (very) nearly 2019 and we’ve never been more woke when it comes to sun protection.

Wearing sunscreen on the daily is like brushing your teeth – it’s a non negotiable. A good quality sun cream is the single best anti-ageing product you can own, yet finding the right one for your face can be a tricky task.

Some are too greasy and make your eyes sting. Others are too thick and make foundation ball up over the top. Finding the one that’s just right can make you feel like Goldilocks, except instead of cold porridge it’s bottles and tubes of wasted product and money down the drain.

That’s why Sydney born and Melbourne based Ava Matthews decided to launch her own range of Australian made sunscreen. Having worked in the beauty industry for over a decade, she still hadn’t found The One.

So she set out to make it (with her co-founder, Bec).


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Mamamia sat down with Ava to talk launching a brand, why SPF is so important, and just how scary the TGA really are.

Can you tell us a bit about how you got here?

“I’ve been in the beauty industry for about 12 years, starting in PR for a mix of boutique and huge industry players and then spent some time in NYC doing much of the same,” Ava told Mamamia.

“I realised there was something missing in my career about eight years ago and decided I wanted to transition into marketing strategy and product development which I was able to fortunately dip my toe in the water of at Napoleon Perdis.”

“I then took a job heading up the Mecca Cosmetica private label brand in Melbourne and moved there which is where I met my co-founder, Bec. She was my-then boss and looked after the entire private label business which was three brands of which Mecca Cosmetica was one.”

“This was a totally eye-opening, life-changing experience. I learnt about the specific details of product development – COGS, profit margins, managing a P+L, brand strategy. I’ve always been very creative but I guess Mecca, especially under Bec, made me strategic and commercial(ish).”

“This is also where I learned about sunscreen – making it, testing it, how important it was to skin ageing and general health, wearing it – and the deep, dark legislative side called the TGA which I always imagine as these kind of ’12 angry men’ characters but is more likely a totally normal group of people,” said Ava.


So you were a big advocate for sunscreen then?

“I guess until that point I would have called myself a reluctant sunscreen user (despite my naturally very pale skin!). I’d wear it during summer, and maybe when I remembered but definitely not every day. While I understood it was a necessity, I didn’t enjoy it – so I’d avoid it. Until I no longer could.”

“A huge part of the brand I was responsible for was suncare. It’s incredibly difficult, and expensive, for international brands to legally sell their SPF in Australian retailers, so we were the only proper SPF in all the Mecca stores. I started learning more and more about the industry and developed some great sunscreens for Mecca but at the end of the day, nothing ticked ALL of the boxes of what I wanted.”

So you saw a gap. Then what?

“Thus Ultra Violette was born. It came from seeing that we needed to create a skin protective wardrobe that we WANTED to wear every day – a product range that could almost replace many skincare products by containing skincare actives, wore well under makeup, and spoke in a way you could understand,” said Ava.

“We have called our first three face products ‘skinscreens’ – a hybrid of skincare and sun protection. They’re all minimum of 30 but mostly 50+, made in Australia, TGA registered and oxybenzone free. All the formulations are also super light and, we think, a delight to wear.”


“At the end of the day, our goal is to get more women (and men!) wearing sunscreen as a daily thing – for skin health and vanity. People don’t talk about that stuff but it’s true! I read an article the other day where a plastic surgeon quoted that everyday you apply SPF, it’s like a $5 saving for future injectables and facial surgery. I’d believe it. I wish I started at 15. SPF is the number one anti-ageing product you could own.”

Can you break down the range a little more for us?

“We have three facial skinscreens, two are chemical and one is physical – we wanted to have an option for everyone – a ‘wardrobe’ if you will. There is a lot of mixed messaging and fear mongering in the sun care space. At the end of the day, the best sunscreen is the one you want to wear daily.”

“Chemical (or organic) filters make much nicer, cosmetically elegant products – very lightweight and not whitening. Some of the more traditional chemical ingredients can cause allergic reactions in some skins, but there are newer, more technologically advanced chemical ingredients (we use these in our range) that have considerably fewer instances of allergies and are in fact now used in many SPF’s developed for sensitive skin,” said Ava.

“Physical/Mineral (or non organic) SPF’s are either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. These are often great for people with inflamed skin like acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis or just highly sensitised skin, but they tend to be more whitening in general. Our Clean Screen is a zinc-only based facial SPF and low on the whitening side, but we chose to keep this at a 30 for this reason… the whole “the best SPF is the one you want to wear daily” thing.”



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Is there a hero product to the range?

“Queen Screen SPF 50+ – she’s the highest SPF in the body of an anti-ageing serum. Super lightweight, sinks into the skin and disappears immediately, adds a beautiful glow and is versatile and can be mixed into other things (like foundations and hydrators) for an extra layer of protection.”

“We’ve added some really great active ingredients in too, one which protects from the entire solar spectrum (UV, InfraRed, visible light (inc blue light) and native Australian antioxidants that protect against free radical damage as well as very hydrating but oil free. I also love the subtle rose fragrance (it’s a natural fragrance). It’s just super easy. Works for everyone.


Which product is for what skin type?

“We have Queen Screen Lightweight Serum SPF 50+, that’s like an invisible shield – versatile, just lovely. It’s super hydrating but more in the form of a milk rather than a cream. Oil free so is good for people who are prone to a bit of oil and don’t like the feeling of anything too heavy. It’s sunscreen that doesn’t feel like it,” said Ava.

“Supreme Screen Hydrating SPF 50+ is our all-rounder. Operates as a daily moisturiser and primer (but is actually a sunscreen). This is great for cooler months, or if you’re a little on the normal-drier side – or if you’re just lo-fi and don’t want a million products. Good for men too. Just hand it over…but don’t expect it back.”

“Clean Screen Mattifying Mineral SPF is good for inflamed or oily skin – it does dry to have more of a slightly matte finish (but still super hydrating). One for everyone!”

There’s also two tinted lip balms Ava didn’t have time to tell me about because she could talk about sun care all day. They are in Nude and Peach and are thick, nourishing and SPF 30.

I’ve personally trialled all of the products and am happy to say I think an iconic Aussie beauty brand may have just been born.

A small collection of pre-sale was released but has almost sold out. The brand officially launches on January 25th, 2019. Prices range from $25-$45. Head to the website for more details.