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Reno startup looks to change face of sunscreen business

John Seelmeyer

Lori Nauman and Heather Neal aren’t content merely to take on the giants of the sunscreen industry. They also want to change the way that consumers think about the entire product category.

Their Reno-based Screen Inc. Nauman is the founder; Neal the president is rolling out its line of sunscreens this summer. Marketing channels range from dermatologists’ offices to golf pro shops.

The company’s pitch: Sun damage is just as likely to happen while you’re walking to your car in a shopping center parking lot as it is when you’re at the beach. Thus, consumers should use sunscreen as part of their daily facial routine, much as they routinely brush their teeth.

“This is a daily sunscreen for the neck up,” says Neal, a former business consultant who joined forces last autumn with Nauman, who had begun thinking about the product while she worked as an esthetician.

It’s been a fast-and-furious ride to get the product line to market.

The sunscreen formulations current products are targeted toward men, women, teens and tweens are developed and manufactured for Screen Inc. by G.S. Cosmeceutical USA Inc. of Livermore, Calif.

The challenge: Creating sunscreens that aren’t greasy or irritating. That’s particularly important to the teen-aged customers who are the targets of the first product developed by Screen Inc.

With that task accomplished, Neal and Nauman worked with Pam Campanaro of Silver State Packaging in Reno and graphic designer Jennifer Lamb of Syd Visual to develop tubes.

They spent some $50,000, meanwhile, on testing that would bring a seal of approval from the Skin Cancer Foundation certification that Neal views as a key element of the company’s drive to win shelf space at retailers and dermatology offices.

More cash was required for development of lip-screen products that will be rolled out soon.

“It takes a lot of money to build a company like this,” says Neal. The privately held company has been financed so far by its two owners who also are its only employees and their fathers.

Now, Neal says, it’s time to see if the work on product development and marketing will pay off in the form of sales.

Screen Inc. sunscreens are available in a handful of locations in Reno and around Lake Tahoe, and the company is negotiating with an independent sales representative company to step up the sales push nationwide. The owners are putting plans in place for an international push as well.

“As long as there is sun and people on this earth, there will be a need for sunscreen,” says Neal.