The Gear Junkie: SCAPE Sunscreen

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By Stephen Regenold

The marketing spiel does not mix words: Outside Labs Inc., a startupsunscreen maker in Gardena, Calif., touts its SCAPE product line as”the most advanced sunblock on the planet.”

When the company came onto the market this spring, it intended to makea splash. Outside Labs' products, including a lotion-like sunscreen, aspray, and a “face stick” that rubs on as a waxy solid, are promotedby Craig Alexander, a two-time Ironman World Champion and a melanomasurvivor.

The company's co-founder, an enthusiast of surfing, snowboarding,mountain biking, and triathlon, is an ex-Johnson & Johnson scientistwith a tenure at the Neutrogena brand. He has a Ph.D. from theUniversity of Cambridge.

Among various attributes, Outside Labs ( notes itssunscreen as achieving five times the waterproofness of competingbrands because of a new polymer technology. It applies to the skin”like an ultra-thin Gore-Tex layer,” as per the company's wording.

Who knew sunscreen could be so cool?

I jumped to try the SPF50 product, a $14.99 bottle of runny lotionthat starts ultra-white but rubs easily in to the skin. At the base ofa mountain climb in Iceland, I slathered some SCAPE onto my neck,cheeks and ears. I stood for a second to soak it in and attempt tosense any magic effect.

In addition to high UVA protection, SCAPE is touted as “breathable.”It is noted as non-clogging for skin pores, allowing the epidermis tobreathe and, as a result, keeping body temperature even.

It will not rub off and go into your eyes, and the lotion is “loaded”with vitamin E and antioxidants to protect and nourish the skin.That's what the company says.

In Iceland, trudging up the mountain for several hours on snow, SCAPEdid indeed do its job. There's a slight shine and a tinge of whitenessthat accompanies a coat of SCAPE. I applied it once, and then Iclimbed and hiked for a few hours straight, up through snowfields andonto a glacier where sunbeams ricocheted and bounced.

The next morning, my face was healthy and undamaged. Some othermembers of the climbing team, with varying sunscreen types, were burntor red.

SCAPE passed my test. Polymer technologies and Gore-Tex analogiesaside, the sunscreen seems set to live up to its hype.

–Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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