Suncare made sexy

Italian luxury sun protection brand Darling, now available in SA, is leading a suncare revolution. We speak to Giovanna Roma of Unbound SA, the local distributor.

By Ingrid Wood

When Alberto Giacobazzi, CEO, and Ilenia Gebennini, PM of Darling, respectively, introduced their brand to the Italian market in 2019, it was in response to a clear need to change perceptions about SPF products and raise awareness of the importance of sun protection. Their research showed that while the need for sunscreen was a given, there was a general lack of desirability due to negative perceptions related to SPF from texture (sticky and unpleasant to apply, ashy cast) to misinformation (belief that it clogs pores and lack of awareness on the possible harmful consequences of UV exposure). Their aim was to create a complete suncare routine, available in selected distribution channels (niche specialty stores) that ticked the boxes of sustainability, sophisticated design, high-performance formulas infused with skincare actives, and products that are pleasant and easy to apply.

In 2019 Darling launched its first four hero products to prepare, protect and restore: SPF 20 (now replaced by an SPF30) and SPF 50 cream lotions for the face and body, After-Sun (with a blend of soothing natural botanical extracts, including aloe vera, malva and Melissa, and a mix of precious oils to restore skin hydration, soothe inflammation and refresh); and Tan Activator (which stimulates melanin production to facilitate and support the photo-protection process, enhancing the skin’s natural defences).

What sets Darling apart?

Darling came to life with the aim to revolutionise the sun care market, creating innovative products packed with active skincare ingredients of the highest quality and enhanced by a designer packaging. It finally introduces the concepts of pleasure and luxury in a world that was always dominated by the notion of “duty”. Every aspect of the line has been meticulously researched from the formulas to the unique Monoi de Tahiti molecular scent that adapts to your body scent and the 100 per cent recycled and recyclable packaging. The products are vegan, cruelty-free, dermatologically tested and comply with the strictest EU regulations.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the packaging.

Darling has always attached great importance to the product design. The creation was guided by the desire to create a range of ‘made in Italy’ products combining aesthetics, practicality and sustainability. Sunscreens are among the few beauty products that need to be carried with us and Darling is not only a high-performing range, but a trendsetting line of products that can be carried around and proudly displayed. Making the packaging more appealing was crucial to align the range with the dynamics of the skincare world, where products are used for self-care and pleasure.

What is your favourite Darling product?

The range includes nine references and some exciting novelties are in the pipeline for 2024, but my absolute favourite is the Screen-Me Spray SPF50+, a feather-light, non-greasy face and body lotion with broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection, suitable for all skin types, even the most sensitive. It has strong anti-ageing, anti-spot and moisturising actions, together with antioxidant and soothing properties. Among the active ingredients in this formulation are moringa seed oil, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; hyaluronic acid and squalane, to preserve skin hydration and elasticity; and niacinamide, to help prevent and fade dark spots.

Tell us about Unbound SA.

Unbound was born in 2023 from the dream of a woman, an entrepreneur who believes that uniqueness is a value and that the variety of human nature is our ultimate treasure. It was created for those who don’t want to be identified with only one type of aesthetics, for those who want to feel free to be true to themselves, unbound by a stereotypical kind of beauty. I have always believed that real inclusivity can only be achieved through the appreciation of individuality.


Unbound was created to bring brands and products to South Africa that can assist you in enhancing your beauty, appreciating your body and all those traits that make you unique, taking care of yourself in a loving way and making you feel good because it is only when you feel good about yourself that your real beauty will glow. At Unbound we like to believe that “beauty and science will save the world” and we aim to grow by bringing more brands and products whose formulations are safe, relevant, clean, sustainable, and always created with an eye for design.

What does luxury mean to you?

Historically, the word luxury meant the highest quality products, the highest status and great in-store experiences. That definition is still partially true, but consumers are changing, retail is changing, and the actual definition of what luxury means is also changing. Now there are other values that have entered the equation. Time is certainly one of them as well as sustainability. In the last couple of years, there has been a shift in priorities from the external to an internalisation of what is thought to be luxury. This means that it is becoming more and more important for high-end brands to go beyond the so-called status quo. Consumers of luxury products now have the need to identify and relate to the brands they choose and the values a brand represents. Consumers are looking for products and experiences that help us learn, grow and distinguish ourselves by expressing who we are. Hence the reason why luxury products today must be relevant and true to each consumer and the values they believe in. Today more than ever, consumers of luxury goods are seeking authenticity, craftsmanship and personalisation as well as highly performing products realised through the use of technology, constant research and innovation. Luxury is intended to make our lives more beautiful and that is why today it is so closely related to who we choose to be and how we choose to live our lives.

Darling is currently sold online at www.unboundsa.com as well as in selected premium spas and salons.

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