Sun protection in harmony with nature
An entrepreneurial streak shone through early in life for Winki Zinc founder and ocean lover Belinda Sharrock.
As a child she remembers pitching ideas to her parents for all manner of things.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind. I was always the one coming up to my parents saying ‘hey Mum and Dad, what about this idea?’.”
Belinda, who lives in Fairhaven, was working in outdoor education and living in Sri Lanka when the idea for Winki Zinc came to her.
“I was living over there and giving myself space to work on my creative ideas,” she recalls.
“The natural environment in Sri Lanka is pretty pristine and it was quite magical to be surfing with turtles, fish and beautiful coral reefs below.
“But I would see this oily slick on top of the ocean if it was a place where a lot of people were swimming.
“That’s when I started looking into what sunscreens were doing.
“That and I also had horrible reactions to the sunscreens I bought there, I started getting really red, bumpy skin which was really irritated which was probably a combination of the sunscreen and the never-ending heat over there.”
Belinda experimented with making her own zinc, taking advantage of the access she had to locally made organic coconut oils and mango butters.
“I could see that it was working because I had the opportunity to test it with a lot of people including surf schools, family and friends, and myself using it every day.”
While living in Sri Lanka Belinda completed a year-long online diploma in Skincare Formulation focusing on using natural ingredients.
“There has been sustainable and ethical skincare around for a long time but tackling that zinc range which is in between skincare and sunscreen, that definitely came a bit later,” she says.
“There were a couple of small brands that had emerged – one in Byron Bay and another on the Gold Coast – but I think Winki Zinc was the first brand to use paper board packaging for products, everyone else was using tins or plastic tubes.
“I thought the Surf Coast was a great place to launch a business, it’s where my heart is, I always wanted to live here and have been here for about six years now.”
The Winki Zinc range includes a tinted SPF 30 skin balm in four colour tones, a SPF 30 lip and cheek tint, and a cleansing oil.
Winki Zinc’s customer is predominantly women, in particular young women who are concerned about climate change and are taking time to research what they buy and the impact it has on the natural world.
“They are on a journey to learn about what’s good and how they can make positive change in the world,” she explains.
“Winki Zinc is designed to align with that journey.”
Belinda says the brand, which is sold through stockists around Australia, also attracts a buyer who loves the outdoors and being active in nature.
“Winki Zinc is there to encourage people to go outside, spend time outside and feel confident that they are protecting their skin and doing the right thing by the environment as well.
“It’s not definitely not just for surfing, it’s for anyone who likes being out in the sun doing outdoor activities while caring for the environment.”
Belinda has set out to reimagine zinc, showing customers that it can complement their skin tone – a world away from the brightly coloured zincs of the past.
“The idea was to design something that looked really natural on people’s skin because zinc traditionally had this neon colouring,” she says.
“The focus is to change what people think zinc is and to let them know it is in between a tinted moisturiser and a sunscreen.
“It’s classified as a cosmetic sunscreen because it’s designed for the face to tint as well as protect.”
Belinda says there has been a lot of interest to go international with Winki Zinc but she is content to keep it close to home for now.
“There are a lot of countries who don’t have anything like this whatsoever so they are pleading for it,” she says.
“But we are keeping it to Australia because that’s enough of a focus for us right now and it is designed for the Australian climate.
“There are sustainability questions we need to ask when it comes to exporting overseas so, at the moment, we are happy focusing on this market.”
Meanwhile, she is fine tuning the core products and also developing a sunscreen to add to the range which should have an SPF 50 rating.
“So that will be the nice cherry on top of the range,” Belinda says, smiling.
“It’s such a joy to see something grow and be able to put all of your energy and passion into it.”
Discover more, including a list of local stockists on the Winki Zinc website and @winkizinc on Instagram.