Here comes the Sun - an Interview with the PWA
Since last year, you would have noted that the PWA crew has been using a product called SWOX, you have seen it in photos online and if you have attended any of the PWA events you would have seen the PWA crew and some riders using the same product, this is why we are here today meeting with Maximilian Jagsch, Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde / Mystic / Maui Ultra Fins / SWOX) and Adam Lewis (Fanatic / North / SWOX) to talk about SWOX, what it is and their involvement in the PWA and water sports in general.
Hello Max, thanks for meeting with us, so to start, can you tell the PWA followers what is SWOX?
We do sun protection: SWOX stands for Sun Water Oxygen. Our goal is to offer sunscreens that are specifically designed to meet the needs of sports in extreme conditions; surfing, snowboarding, and other outdoor activities. Every sport demands a different type of sun protection, and our SWOX products ensure that you have the right type of protection for whichever extreme condition you find yourself in. With windsurfing for example, we have the SWOX FACE, a product which is long lasting and offers very strong protection for your face: it contains no alcohol, it stays put on your skin so there’s less need to reapply in the water, and therefore no uncomfortable irritations or itching eyes!
When did you start SWOX and how come you decided to go into the sunscreen business?
The idea for our company came to me in 2009, when I was sharing a flat together with Tim Peltz (our Doc in the Team) in Bronte, Sydney. I was on an incredible surfing trip along the West coast of Australia with two friends and we could not find a sunscreen that fit our surfer needs. One night the three of us spent the whole evening around a fire at a camp site at Yallingup (Australia), talking about how amazing Australia is and philosophising about what we wanted to do in life. We also talked about how frustrating it was not having the right kind of sun protection. This got me thinking, and I decided to build a start up and do it myself. I was so ecstatic about the idea of starting a sun protection company. At 2am, with my buddies fast asleep in our van, using just a 3G USB stick modem I tried to register swox.com with a domain provider to get going straight away and succeeded. That trip started it all, and I highly recommend to anyone to get a van, your best friends, and just go exploring Australia! It is a truly mind blowing and inspiring experience! And you never know, hehe, you might find yourself getting passionate about an idea and wanting to take it further. That was my case: first came the idea, the development and product followed a year later.
Last year we used the SWOX Sunscreen Face (SPF30) and this year we have also a SWOX sunscreen combo, a SWOX Brown Zinc and a SWOX sunscreen body, it is quite an increase in products. Can you tell us a little about the new products?
That´s correct, I’m so excited that we have been able to add such great products to our range. We’ve been talking a lot with our team riders and got great feedback. Our core market remains surfing, where we now offer our second product SWOX Protection Brown Zinc, which is great for surfers. Based on natural filters we designed a protection product which stays on your skin for a long time. It is perfect for nose, cheeks and forehead and has a brown colour so you don´t look like a ghost in the water. The SWOX Combo designed specifically for skiers and snowboarders, who prefer a product that fits in a small pocket and gives you a good combination of sun protection for your face and lips in the mountains. Our new SWOX Sunscreen Body is made for sports enthusiast in general. It is extra waterproof, but not as firm as the Face. It is sunscreen for swimming or doing outdoor sports like running, biking, beach volleyball. It is the first time that we’ve added a unique SWOX frequency, which turned out great and really differs from all products in the market.
Great, as we said at the beginning SWOX has been the official Sunscreen Sponsor for the PWA, what made you join the PWA family?
The PWA is incredibly professional, embodies the competitive windsurfing crowd and has some amazing people. It fits extremely well with SWOX’s DNA. At the age of 14 I first started windsurfing. Every Easter myself and five friends would drive down to La Manga del Mar Menor in Spain to spend our holiday with a Windsurf camp organised by the University of Saarbrücken and the VDWS. I had a terrible experience with sunscreen at the time: I had sunscreen run into my eyes while I was under the sail trying to learn to water start on my Mistral Challenge Flex board. Great times those were! When I finally made it up I could hardly see because of the sunscreen still running into my eyes. That really dampened the fun experience I was having. At age 17 I became a Windsurf Instructor and started teaching school groups in France and Spain. Even back then I realised that sunscreen and sports weren’t going well together but it would take another 16 years until I decided to make an impact in the sun protection business. At 21 I moved to Sylt for my civil service to be able to Windsurf and to be closer to the ocean. It was 1997 and the PWA had organised the World Cup in Westerland. It really was a highlight for me when all these legends met on the small Island and partied like crazy at the Hangar Parties. At this time I got in contact with a lot of professional riders and the PWA as organisation. I am super happy that we could build up this relationship with you guys and I hope we can make a change in the way people think about sun protection.
Among your athletes you have some big names in PWA, who are they?
Yes, we are stoked to work with Adam Lewis, Robby Swift and Flo Jung (RRD / Gun Sails / SWOX) as main ambassadors in Windsurfing. Flo is currently on his mission (Aquapower Expedition) to bring awareness of how our oceans are already polluted with plastic. We at SWOX also focus on that problem and are in the process of testing new tubes out of sugarcane to reduce the impact of plastic. Today with me is Robby Swift and Adam Lewis.
Ok, so Robby, do you give feedback to Max about the products? What do you like about SWOX? you obviously spend a lot of time under the sun so you must have tried tons of products…
Yes, I do give feedback about products. Actually the face product was already amazing when I first tried it. As someone who spends over 300 days a year in the water and sun, I need a good sunscreen and particularly one which lasts a long time, does not run in my eyes and does not irritate my skin. SWOX face sunscreen does all this and provides me with great protection. I have tried loads of products and this is by far my favorite, which is why I’m happy to represent them.
My feedback for a body sunscreen was pretty simple, it should be the same as the face one but easier to apply as you have to put it all over your body and don’t want to spend hours rubbing it in, so I am sure it will not disappoint when I receive the final product in a couple of weeks after a long time in development.
Those 3 main requirements of a good sunscreen are pretty simple to ask for but obviously very difficult to reproduce as hardly any sunscreen manufacturers manage to do it. With the face version SWOX hit the nail on the head, and I can’t wait to try the body one!
Adam, in the Canaries you use sunscreen all the time but what about when you travel to north of Europe, the UK, etc when it is cold, do you still use Sunscreen?
Yeah as you said when I'm in the Canaries I'm always putting it on, you feel the sun is hot here and so it's obvious to put it on... Actually that's what makes it more dangerous when you are in cooler places like the UK, just now in spring you don't feel the sun because it's cooler and kinda lightly cloudy but these are the worst days that's when you can get really burnt... So yes I'm basically using the suncream everywhere I go. Whenever I see a shadow I'm putting on cream!
Max, is there anything you would like to say to the PWA followers that are reading this interview?
Life is too short for bad sunscreen. Your skin will thank you. The tricky thing is that sun-rays almost act in secret and you actually notice the damage when it is far too late. Especially when you are a person with pale skin and blond hair you are in a risk group. Just be aware of this and protect yourself while you play among mother nature. For those who did not have the opportunities to try out our product, please ask your local dealer or visit our online store.
Exactly this also was my last final question Max, if someone wants to get your products how can they do it?
You can buy our sun protection range online at swox.com, at Amazon and in good equipped surf shops around your corner. If they don’t - please ask them to get in contact with us so we can equip them. We start with small packages for dealers and are happy to supply you directly from Germany to every corner of this beautiful globe. Just check out swox.com for further information.