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Meet Courtney Michael of Coural Care in Ocean Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Michael.

Courtney, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was 19 years old, I was diagnosed with early-stage melanoma which is the most deadly form of skin cancer. As someone with fair skin, who lives in Southern California, and has a history of skin cancer, I am definitely someone who needs to wear sunscreen every day but didn’t.

I tried to find the perfect sunscreen I could wear every day and ended up learning about all the toxic chemicals found in most sunscreens. Chemicals, like oxybenzone, found in sunscreens are comparable to synthetic estrogen which disrupts your hormone function, and I was not okay with putting that on my body.

On top of that, these chemicals are harming the ocean! They damage the DNA of coral reefs and have been linked to coral reef bleaching. I began to try natural sunscreens, but they never worked with my makeup, usually had a weird smell, and were a workout to rub in. I knew there had to be an alternative and when I didn’t like any of the options available, I decided to make my own – and that’s when Coural Care was born!

During this time, I was an undergraduate student at San Diego State University studying Business Management, Entrepreneurship. I got involved with the startup incubator on campus, ZIP Launchpad, where I met amazing people and had resources available to explore this idea to see if it would be a viable business. After confirming there is a need for this product, I started the development phase.

Throughout that process, I knew Coural Care had to be organic, plant-based, reef safe, and cruelty-free. I was not willing to budge on any of those values, and even though that made this process way more difficult, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would never sell anything that I didn’t love and am beyond excited that the idea is now a reality. Not only did I have skin cancer but I also have acne scars, mild eczema, and mild rosacea, so I am quite the good test subject. After trying Coural Care for months and actually seeing my skin improve, I could not be more excited to share this with you.

I’m often asked why Coural Care is spelled the way it is with a “u” in there. It incorporates the beginning of my name, Courtney, because this started from my experience with melanoma. But I’m on a mission to help protect your skin while we protect our ocean and the only way to really make a difference is with “u.”

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely been quite a journey filled with lots of ups and downs! One of the most challenging parts was developing the formula. I wanted something completely organic, plant-based, reef safe, and cruelty-free while still feeling amazing. This was much harder than I thought and I now see why there are so many toxic products on the market. It took a while, but it was so rewarding when the dream formula was finally on my skin!

It’s also been difficult to manage all the different aspects of running a business. But I’m grateful for my sister who’s helped me get Coural Care to where it is today! A huge part of this business is to educate people on the ocean and what we can do to help. As a published marine biologist, she makes sure I’m sharing accurate information while still providing a “call to action” or some sort of take-home message that people can incorporate into their daily lives.

Sharing information is important, but there needs to be action if we want to help our planet out. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate; she keeps me in check, helps move the business forward, and is always there to help when challenges arise.

Coural Care – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Coural Care is the coral reef safe sunscreen that actually feels amazing! We’ve developed a sunscreen that works well with your makeup without harming your body or the ocean.

We use plant-based ingredients and are very proud to be Leaping Bunny Certified which is the international gold standard for non-animal tested consumer products. We work with a manufacturer in the United States who employs sustainable practices.

From a solar-powered facility to sourcing farm-fresh ingredients on an urban farm, we are dedicated to protecting our environment and giving you premium skincare for your beautiful skin.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’ve had an entrepreneurial spirit ever since I was a kid selling lemonade on the side of the street and having a little book with all my top secret inventions. Then in high school, I opened an Etsy shop selling flower crowns and jewelry and ended up selling them globally. I learned so much from that and had a lot of fun, but I didn’t feel like I was really making an impact. That’s why I’m so proud of Coural Care; I finally found something I truly love and am so excited to work on it every day because of the message behind it.

Coural Care is so much more than just a sunscreen, it’s a conversation starter to raise awareness of what you can do to protect your skin while you protect the ocean. Every person can make a change, even with small actions. When you use Coural Care, you’re taking care of yourself by protecting your skin from the sun, but you’re also taking a stance for our planet to protect our ocean. Like I said before, Coural Care started because of my story but the only way it’ll truly make an impact is with you. So, thank you. 🙂


  • $12-42

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Image Credit:
Nika Darrin, Bea Doheny, Courtney Michael

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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