Organic skincare, cosmetics and wellness brand Skin Elements may only have a few years of listed life under its belt, but the company’s narrative and evolution is a story decades in the making.  

It was the early 2000s when Skin Elements (ASX:SKN) co-founder Peter Malone and his colleagues identified a gap in the global market for sunscreen free of harmful chemicals.

Fresh off mammoth success with a previous project in the US, the team led by Malone recognised growth globally in demand for sunscreen and turned its attention to the development of a product which would protect users without the risk posed by synthetic chemicals.

“What we saw at the time was the big shift in the world was that chemicals were out, particularly in food and skincare, and other products used on the human body,” Malone told Stockhead.

“We believed the big winners in the future would be products that used natural, organic ingredients.”

A lightbulb moment

Malone said the 2004 documentary film Super Size Me – current to the time – had encouraged consumers to consider wellness in their purchase decisions, and the fragmentation of the skincare and cosmetics markets left a window for a product which would offer the benefits of organics against the potentially harmful synthetics which dominate the market to this day.

It was from this idea, and years of subsequent research and development, that Skin Elements developed a remarkable organic technology which now forms the basis of its natural sunscreen, skincare and cosmetics ranges, as well as its fully plant-based SuprCuvr disinfectant spray – billed by the company as the most powerful COVID-19 killer in the world.

“We set up a program to build an anti-microbial, natural, organic base for our sunscreen, starting work 15 years ago,” Malone said.

“15 years is a long time in commercial business terms, but for the bulk of those years we were completely different to what we are today – we were very much a private research company with a focus on developing a technology which could replace synthetic sunscreens.

“We were doing something that hadn’t been done before – there was no recipe for developing a natural organic product with its own safety base and it was like building a cake for the first time.

“It was high risk, but that’s what a start-up program is, but we learnt how to do it and we finalised our recipe – the technology was safe.”

Market testing

The resultant sunscreen – branded as Soléo Organics – was tested around the world, from the surfers on Quiksilver’s books to the sun-kissed skin of Australian test cricketers, and Malone said the feedback was second to none.

Soléo scored, and continues to score, particularly highly compared against its peers as measured by the American Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Malone likened the product to a Tesla measured against a combustion engine car.

“These are completely different ingredients compared with other sunscreens, like a completely different fuel,” he said.

“Like a Tesla, there’s not a skerrick of petrol in it – they’re just completely different products.”

Soléo’s success prompted Skin Elements’ eventual listing – just the beginning of the company’s story.

Shortly following its 2017 listing, SKN acquired McArthur Skincare – the Perth-based manufacturer of a range of natural, pawpaw skincare products.

The products required some work and relicensing, a process which took around three years, but the wait and labour was worth it for a range which Malone said offered an organic alternative for steroid-based creams commonly used to treat eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, wounds and burns, muscle aches and pains and similar conditions.

The world as we knew it would change right as the products were launched, with COVID-19 spreading across the globe.

A COVID-killing base

The pandemic interrupted SKN’s marketing efforts, but also prompted some thoughts which led it on the path to developing what the company says is the world’s highest rated COVID-19 killing hospital-grade disinfectant – a 100% organic solution to a global problem.

“I asked our team ‘what would happen if we used our extensive knowledge of organic way to preserve natural ingredients like we’re using for the sunscreens and creams, right down to the anti-microbial base?” Malone said.

“We knew natural extract  killed germs, but we didn’t know the power against COVID -19  so we did the tests and sent it to the Federal Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).”

The independent scientific tests in relation to the disinfectant product SuprCuvr were phenomenal.

The scientific scale used to measure the thoroughness of disinfectants is called log reduction, and it highlights the percentage effectiveness of products.

Log 4, which is typically the criteria for a TGA Approved hospital-grade disinfectant, refers to a 99.99% effectiveness rate – the 4 is essentially a reference to the number of 9s in the percentage figure.

A log 4 disinfectant would typically leave around 500 virus particles when applied to a sample size of 5 million.

SuprCuvr, a NASAA certfied organic product in a market dominated by chemical-based solutions, received Log 7 status from the TGA – 99.99999% effectiveness.

“The antimicrobial basis for the technology comes from plants, and the plants are gentle on the human body because they’re both organic,” Malone said.

“But if you put them on these bacteria, germs & COVID-19, they are powerful killers.”

Skin Elements put SuprCuvr forward for inclusion on the government’s tender list of disinfectants earlier in the year which enables all government departments to order the product – the tenders decision is pending, and if granted it could result in large scale sales in Australia.

At present, the product is available in around 180 IGA stores, with work being done to distribute into retailers on the east coast.

Malone said he was hopeful that recommended  government tender list status and other commercial contracts which may come out of it would broaden the visibility of all Skin Elements’ products – each based on its innovative natural & organic technologies tech.

“I believe SKN comes of age in a post-COVID world,” Malone said. “We don’t just have the armoury of our original two key product lines, but we also have this product we’ve developed that could change the way people deal with the world.”




This article was developed in collaboration with Skin Elements, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.