Though we’ve come a long way from facing the harsh realities of a predominately whitewashed beauty industry, Black, brown, and marginalized communities on a global scale are still enduring the negative effects of representation as it pertains to Black beauty entrepreneurs receiving the proper awareness and support they rightfully deserve. The narrow interpretation of Black and brown consumers and beauty entrepreneurs didn’t only take effect within the scope of beauty marketing but also transcended into the beauty products that were offered on shelves.

Whether it was a wide array of unpronounceable ingredients to harmful chemicals that further damaged our skin, such as Dettol (a liquid antiseptic that was commonly used as a skin topical) skincare and beauty oppression took hold in almost every multifaceted way that was innately felt, even seconds after walking into your local pharmacy, drugstore, or beauty parlor. As a result of having no choice but to formulate our own products, we turned to our aunts, our mothers, and our grandmothers for holy grail products that were sworn high and low for generations. From the use of Black African shea butter for moisturizing to essential oils for healing properties, the Black community has never ceased to pass down cherished beauty secrets generation by generation- and as a result, passed those beauty secrets along to the skincare experts that are driving the movement forward. 

What all started out in 2016 as an SPF-infused formula, later turned into one of the most auspicious Black-owned sunscreen brands in the industry to date. Black Girl Sunscreen founder, Shontay Lundy, started her brand almost 7 years ago after noticing significant disparities within the scope of beauty. “Black Girl Sunscreen is important to me because it is me. It’s you. It’s all of us! Said Lundy to 21Ninety. I created this sunscreen for our community. It feels fantastic to make a global impact because our mission is to ensure Black Girl Sunscreen can reach the hands of every person who wants and needs us.” From seeing a lack of diversity and inclusion in a multimillion-dollar industry to ongoing beauty issues that have surfaced over the course of the years from hyperpigmentation to scarring, Shontay is helping to move the movement forward with mindful ingredients made with melanin in mind. 

Gabrielle: Thanks so much for speaking with us, Shontay! We’d love to start things off by diving into your background. Why did you start Black Girl Sunscreen? Who or what inspired you? Tell us about the journey that led you to where you are today.

Shontay: Black Girl Sunscreen was started because I was underwhelmed with the sunscreen available on the market back in 2016. Being a woman of the sun, I couldn’t find anything that made me feel beautiful. I took a chance on myself and developed Black Girl Sunscreen, and here we are six years later.

Gabrielle: Can you tell us the importance of why your brand is so pivotal towards reshaping our view towards using sunscreen? Especially for the Black community?

Shontay: The Black community grew up, and many still believe, with the misconception that Black people did not need sunscreen due to our natural-born melanated skin. This is a false misconception which can lead to higher cases of melanoma for Black people. We’re here to remind our community that the sun does not discriminate. We are just as susceptible to sun damage and other ailments from sun exposure as our lighter skin counterparts.

Gabrielle: Talk to us a little bit more about the formulas and ingredients you incorporate within your products. Why can customers trust in Black Girl Sunscreen to not only help protect them from the sun, but to help protect them against using sunscreens that are more harmful or toxic?

Shontay: In my research for ingredients to include in our sunscreen, I wanted a formula that made me look and feel good. When our skin gets dry, we experience ash. To help combat that, our sunscreens are infused with moisturizing properties such as jojoba, shea butter, chamomile (our Kids formula), avocado, and cacao. We have researched and carefully selected ingredients that not only we love but feel our community will love as well. We want the best for our customers as much as for ourselves. We have avoided ingredients such as oxybenzone and octinoxate as they are harmful to coral reefs, marine life, and our bodies.

Gabrielle: How is Black Girl Sunscreen breaking barriers for how we view and take care of our skin? How can we use your product to hone in on self-love?

Shontay: We’re doing this by helping our community understand the importance of daily sunscreen use. Making sunscreen use a part of your daily skin routine will amplify your self-love. You should look at sunscreen usage the same way you look at massages, facials, pedicures, etc. Sunscreen is a daily necessity throughout the year, not just summertime, including rainy, snow-filled, and cloudy days.

Gabrielle: In one word, how would you describe your brand?

Shontay: Revolutionary

Gabrielle: Can you walk us through your beauty regimen. Do you apply sunscreen before or after your serums and face oils?

Shontay: My beauty regimen is pretty simple – cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and Black Girl Sunscreen. When applying serums or face oils, it’s best to apply sunscreen after as it will act as a sealant to those products.

Gabrielle: Can customers wear Black Girl Sunscreen with a full face of makeup? What are the benefits of including sunscreen within our day-to-day routines?

Shontay: Yep, you sure can! Any of our sunscreens works great under makeup. Make It Matte SPF 45, our first matte sunscreen, works as a fantastic primer underneath makeup. Including sunscreen into your daily routine decreases hyperpigmentation, decreases your risk of skin cancer/melanoma, fights against premature aging, and helps to prevent skin discoloration. your skin’s exposure to the sun, decreased It’s a necessity – point blank.