Awadalla says consumer education is the biggest challenge for any new category, and his UVO drink has already raised many questions as well as curiosity from the public.
How could a beverage act like sunscreen?
UVO’s ingredients were chosen based on their ability to provide benefits to the skin, according to Awadalla. The product’s key ingredients include Vitamin A, C, D, E, as well as niacin, folate, biotin, zinc, selenium, and polypodium leucotomos.
He said these ingredients can protect and repair human skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
“UVO blocks both UVA and UVB rays from damaging the skin but does so using natural pigments to absorb them and other mechanisms to decrease the damage they cause,” Awadalla said.
"If sun protection is as easy as a drinkable supplement, people will use it more regularly”
Awadalla said UVO also has the added benefits of antioxidants, which help stop free radicals from damaging the skin, and ingredients that help in the repair of DNA, cell membranes and collagen.
We still need conventional sunscreen
People don't always like using traditional sunscreen as they may dislike the smell, or the burning in people’s eyes. Sunscreen can also wash off in the water when people swim, added Awadalla.
In fact, according to a recent article published by the American Academy of Dermataology, only 14% of men and 29% of women use sunscreen on their faces and exposed skin areas regularly.
“These numbers are very low… they simply don’t use it enough,” Awadalla said. “I created UVO because we drink liquids every day and if sun protection is as easy as a drinkable supplement, people would use it more regularly.”
However, Awadalla believes all forms of sun protection, including sunglasses and hats, have their own advantages.
“We always encourage people to use multiple forms of sun protection and to add UVO to their regimen, not only for sun protection but also all the other benefits they provide,” he said.
Prospects for expanding the business footprint
Currently, UVO is sold in the natural, sporting goods as well as pharmacy channels with a suggested retail price of $4.99, according to Awadalla. The product is also sold in 12 pack cases directly on UVO’s website, and on Amazon at a lower price per bottle.
However, Awadalla added that “there are many functional beverages that people already use regularly for their daily needs that we will need to compete with.”
Awadalla said his current business goals are to expand distribution and to increase awareness among consumers, as the company strengthens its footprint in California and looks to grow into new markets.
“Our goal will never be to replace sunscreen,” he explained. “Rather, we want people to use UVO in addition to other forms of sun protection with the ultimate goal of helping to reduce the negative effects of sun damage around the world.”
A statement from the American Academy of Dermatology, published on UVO's website, states: "While supplements and foods are being explored for sun protection, they should not be used as a replacement for more traditional sun protection methods.
"There is currently no scientific evidence that oral supplements alone can provide an adequate level of protection from the sun's damaging UV rays. Consumers can use these supplements and foods in combination with seeking shade, wearing sun-protective clothing and applying sunscreen."