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Going the Distance

April 9, 2010

Lots of sunscreens are water- and sweat-proof upon application, but new Scape makes it to the finish line, says creator Nic Martens.

Going the Distance

Lots of sunscreens are water- and sweat-proof upon application, but new Scape makes it to the finish line, says creator Nic Martens.

By Christine Esposito
Associate Editor

There’s no stopping during a triathlon. Not when you hit the transition area and get on your bike for the ride, and surely not to reply sunscreen after the open water swim or wipe it away when it gets into your eyes during the run. This is something Nicolas Martens knows well. An avid runner and surfer who is training for his first Ironman competition, Martens has come home with sunburn or felt the sting when sunscreen blurred his vision.

But there’s something else Martens knows—skin care formulation—and as such, he’s done something about his predicament.

Having previously led product development at Johnson & Johnson—including high-profile launches for Neutrogena—Martens is co-founder and chief executive officer of Outside Labs, the Gardena, CA firm behind Scape Athlete, a range of UVA+UVB SPF 50+ sun care products.

According to Martens, Scape is sun care that’s built for the long haul; it is five times more waterproof and sweatproof than the leading athletic sun block.
“Mass market sunscreens are great for hanging out at the beach, walking the street—but they are terrible products for athletes. The waterproofing and sweatproofing aren’t strong enough for real athletic activities,” Martens told Happi.

To help spread the word about Scape, Martens has signed a multi-year partnership with two-time Ironman World Champion, Craig Alexander. But Alexander has been more than a spokesperson—he’s served as a guinea pig of sorts, having tested the sunscreen for more than a year during his grueling training and race ragmen.

Alexander’s human lab was coupled with extensive laboratory testing, which Martens says went far beyond the standard methodology used to evaluate waterproof claims. Outside Labs’ protocol featured much higher temperatures and more turbulent waters, all meant to more accurately replicate the extreme conditions sunscreens are subjected to when applied to an athlete’s body.

Outside Labs’ formulation contains high-tech polymers that bond to the skin to create superior waterproofing and sweatproofing, and it is noncomedogenic, allowing the skin to breathe naturally so the body’s core temperature does not rise artificially. As for the exact chemistry involved, Martens remains tight-lipped, only telling Happi that hasn’t patented it because he does not want to give away too much information to his competition.

While Scape may have been built for serious athletes, the range is also suited for weekend warriors. According to Martens, while an elite athlete may finish a marathon on just over 2 hours, the average runner will take four hours or more, exposing his or her skin longer to UVA and UVB rays.

“We did a lot of research. If you go to marathon race and talk to the athlete who is going to win his age group or someone who is running their first race, they all say [sunscreen] runs into their eyes. It is a pandemic problem. I strongly feel that the current products under serve this growing and discerning market. [Athletes] can’t buy a product that can protect them.”

In fact, Martens likens wearing sunscreen to donning helmet when riding a bike. “It is a health care product,” Martens said about Scape, citing alarming skin care cancer statistics among the general population as well as the amount of time many athletes spend training outdoors.

The line is available in a 4 oz. and 1.25 oz. lotion bottles, a 3 oz. continuous spray, face stick and lip balm. Outside Labs has been promoting it on the web and on the street, setting up booths at races such as the LA Marathon and other events.

Hardly a rookie when it comes sun care (Outside Labs developed K2 Sport’s K2 Endurance line of sun care products in 2008), Marten’s firm is looking at athlete-driven skin care SKUs. Next up is Scape Muscle Care pre- and post-workout gels. The products, set to hit the market this Fall, are said to increase vascular dilation for a better warm-up or to heal damaged muscle tissue faster after training.
Clearly not following the pack in terms of skin care product development, Martens plans to keep Scape keenly focused on answering athlete’s needs.

“Scape will go into categories where current mass market products aren’t delivering,” he said. “Sun care was the most obvious.”

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