After finding out her son was allergic to most available sunscreens, Larissa wanted to find a more natural product to protect her family. To do this, she looked to nature.

She found inspiration after a chance encounter with a marine scientist. She discovered that corals have a unique way of protecting themselves from ultraviolet (UV) rays at low tide. Over millions of years, coral have evolved natural, sunscreen-like properties to protect themselves from UV damage. This coral sunscreen can also protect other life on the reef.

Larissa’s expertise in natural skin-care products and her enthusiasm for science-based innovation led to the creation of her company, Coral Sunscreen. Coral Sunscreen is changing the conversation about sunscreens. Larissa and her team worked with CSIRO scientists to develop a product that mimics the corals’ natural UV protection. Their product absorbs harmful UV rays, whereas many traditional sunscreens just reflect them.

Larissa’s original goal was to protect people, but the materials we use in our garments, homes and yards can also be damaged by UV. Coral Sunscreen explored other products that could benefit from using the protective pigments it has developed. Now you can find this cool Australian technology in your glasses, paints and plastics, as well as in sunscreen.

Starting a business seems daunting, but starting Coral Sunscreen was a no-brainer for Larissa. She believes in working on something you’re passionate about. She knows she can make the most difference working on Coral Sunscreen and producing products inspired by nature to benefit everyone.

Why it's important

Sun protection in Australia is always a hot topic.

We can’t see the Sun’s UV rays, but they can have a big impact on our health and environment. It’s estimated that 2 in 3 Australians will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

This development in sunscreen is much needed. The coral-inspired sunscreen will protect our skin and is likely to be much safer for our oceans too! In 2021, Hawaii banned sunscreens containing certain chemicals to protect the fragile reefs. This means that natural-based sunscreens are becoming even more important.

Discover more stories about Enterprising Australians.


[Image appears of different types of coral and reefs]

There is no greater science than that in nature. The Australian corals, over millions of years, have developed their own superior robust sunscreen and I'm passionate about bringing this into a human application to benefit human beings.


[Image shows Larissa Bright outdoors near the coast]

My name is Larissa Bright and I am the founder and CEO of a life science company called coral sunscreen. Our main mandate is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer in Australia


[Image changes to show pieces of dried coral being picked up and looked at by Larissa]

I have a background in formulation of natural skin care products. Coral sunscreen is very different as it's a scientific organisation...


[Image changes back to Larissa outdoors near the coast]

where we focus on science to create world first technology to help people.


[Image changes to Larissa walking through an aquarium tunnel, then focusses on a coral in the aquarium before zooming in on Larissa’s face]

I was at a business function one day and I was seated beside one of the leading scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science


[Image changes to a reef bed with a diagram of the direction of the sun’s rays onto the reef bed]

and he mentioned that the corals have this amazing ability to create their own natural sunscreen when the tide is low


[Image changes to a close up of a coral bed]

to protect them and ensure their survival under the harsh UV rays.


[Image changes back to Larissa walking through the aquarium tunnel before changing back to Larissa sitting by the beach]

The moment I heard about it I knew that I had to make this happen. To benefit human beings to make sure that we had stronger more robust protection and in effect, reduce the incidence of skin cancer and fatalities associated with that.


[Image changes to Larissa in a laboratory with a scientist]

Working with scientists is absolutely amazing, it is, these people are creators.


[Image changes to the scientist working in the lab and a close up of the equipment he is working on]

They create things that have never been seen before.


[Image changes to Larissa and the scientist working together at a computer in the laboratory]

They solve problems that haven't been solved before. They've learned to love failure because you learn so much about the technology through failure.


[Image changes back to Larissa sitting by the coast]

It leads one step closer to success.


[Image changes to Coral Sunscreen’s logo over an aerial view of The Great Barrier Reef]

The next project for coral sunscreen is to incorporate our technology into eyewear lens


[Image changes to Larissa looking out over the water near the coast]

to contribute to lessen the incidence of legal blindness globally.


[Image changes to graphics of someone putting on sunscreen, plastic chairs, wooden deck, someone painting a house, and sunglasses]

Also our molecules will be incorporated into paint, plastics. Think of the pegs that you have outside on your clothesline. They would be protected from UV damage.


[Image changes to various coral reefs]

Marine automobile applications. I think the amount of applications is endless. Dream your dream, live your passion. Don't take no for an answer.


[Image changes back to Larissa sitting by the coast]

Continue on your journey and you'll work through every single failure and you'll make it happen. You just have to see it, want to innovate and want to create that change


[Music plays and the image changes to the Australian Government and Questacon logo]