COOLA sunscreen and suncare, our inaugural Rebelle Rally sunscreen sponsor, is a full line of luxury sun and skincare products that incorporate a Farm to Face® sourcing philosophy. Using the freshest and most natural ingredients whenever possible, it’s right up our alley given our competition takes place entirely outside. Not to mention we like to put good stuff in our skin when we slather up against the elements at daybreak — it’s free of parabens, paba, petroleum and phthalates. Containing over 70% certified organic ingredients, COOLA produces limited quantity batches which they’re able to reformulate often, taking advantage of new developments in sun science.  We love the story behind this company, so we caught up with COOLA founder Chris Birchy who gave us the scoop on why he started the brand, and what continues to inspire his passion as he paves the way in the industry.

Tell us a little bit about the story behind COOLA (and what makes it so different from the rest)?

As a child and the oldest of four boys, I spent a lot of time at the beach, teaching surfing and windsurfing lessons over the summers. My family sunscreen drawer was full of SPF 4’s and 8’s, and sunburn was a common occurrence. It was not until 2002 when both of my parents had melanoma scares that I started investigating proper sun protection and was inspired to create COOLA. I assembled an elite team of industry professionals, including several top FDA experts on sun protection. Together we created a full line of luxury sun and skincare products incorporating a Farm to Face® sourcing philosophy, which uses the freshest and most natural ingredients whenever possible.

Can you tell us what you’re most excited about in your product line-up?

This year we launched our new COOLA Beauty Collection which features 70%+ certified organic SPF 30 BB+ creams, Tinted SPF Mineral Liplux, and a Mineral SPF 30 Makeup Primer. These formulas not only contain beautiful, natural colors, flavors and scents, but also feature cutting edge skincare ingredients including rose and plant stem cells.

Why is San Diego (location of our black tie finishing gala and residence of Rebelle founder) the perfect location for COOLA headquarters?

San Diego embodies the lifestyle, ethos and culture of the brand. Laid back, active, health focused, and beautiful scenery from the great big blue to the local mountains. Everyone in the company is active, loves to get outdoors, but are also concerned with protecting their skin for lifelong health. We really do get to put our products to the test!

Our teams will be braving the harsh deserts of the southwest for the Rebelle during daylight hours. Why is it so important for them to sunscreen up, even while in the vehicle or on cloudy days?

UVA rays are present year-round, all day long. They can penetrate through cloud cover and even through windows! Up to 90% of visible signs of aging and sun damage are attributed to daily UV exposure. Wearing sunscreen daily (rain or shine) can immensely reduce your risk for developing skin cancer and also help to prevent premature aging.

You and your wife just welcomed a baby. Is COOLA kid-friendly, or are their plans for a children’s line in the works?

We currently have our COOLA Mineral Baby SPF 50 Moisturizer, which is great for the sensitive skin of your little ones! It has also won over popularity with adults as well.  And yes, we are planning to expand the Baby Collection for 2017. Stay tuned!

We have lots of adventurous women competing in this rally who tend to hike, surf, swim, bike and take their kids to the park all in one weekend!  Which one product would you recommend for the “sporty” woman who does it all?

If we had to narrow it down, I would say our Classic Sport SPF 50 Fresh Mango Moisturizer. This product is great for all over face and body, rubs in easily, provides 80 minutes water resistance, and has a beautiful and captivating fresh mango scent!

Lastly, any words of wisdom?

Never be afraid to veer off the beaten path! And wear sunscreen rain or shine, every single day. Happy Sun-Blocking!