I was on the beach and had just applied a thick layer of sunscreen when my friend gawked at me–”Are you…purple?” I hadn’t noticed the titanium dioxide-based formula used gave my caramel skin an unflattering tint. Self-conscious, I skipped doing the rest of my body. I’ll be fine, I thought, remembering hearing that melanin could be enough protection from UV exposure. Yes, I’d read all about the dangers of sun rays on naked skin but, earnestly (lazily) believed I could get away with it. I’m not alone in believing this myth.
“I grew up thinking you get melanin and God gave you the protection you need,” Chinelo Chidozie, co-founder of Bolden skincare tells me, “We grew up in Africa and you can imagine the heat and the sun and it hits down on you everyday. We used a lot of moisturizer, just not sunscreen. Black people everywhere don’t really think they need it.”
Chidozie and her co-founder Ndidi Obidoa, both Nigerian-born (and married to brothers) are on a mission to change that attitude. They just launched a new Bolden SPF 30 moisturizer ($28) specifically formulated for people of color. It goes on clear, not leaving that dreaded chalky residue and boosts moisture with safflower oil and Vitamin C. Instead of containing typical sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, it contains octinoxate and avobenzone which both go on sheer when applied.
The idea for it came to the two when they were on a vacation in Key West. After picking up a drugstore sunblock, Chidozie found she couldn’t get the product to sink in no matter how much she rubbed it in. “It wasn’t wearable. You just looked like a ghost,” she said. “That was really frustrating.” After doing some research, the two of them set out to create a daily moisturizer with SPF before just as an introduction for people to just start using sunscreen. “People say ‘black don’t crack’ but you need to take care of your skin–there’s a lot of education to be done around the need to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays,” Obidoa adds.
The duo feel inclusivity is their responsibility. As Chidozie says, “People within the community have to step up to do something and get a seat at the table so when these decisions [about beauty products] are being made, there are considerations for people across the board.”