E! : We always hear about the importance of wearing sunscreen, but the dots don’t always connect for everyone. What are the most common misconceptions you hear about using sunscreen?
KB: It’s so shocking and disappointing that so many people don’t understand the importance of wearing sunscreen. So many people think they don’t need sunscreen and say “My skin is brown” or “I’m never in the sun”. I said, “Are you driving? How did you get here? If you drive, you expose yourself to the sun through the windows.
It’s so hard to hide from the sun. People don’t realize how hard it is to hide from the sun. You really can’t hide, and that’s something melanotic people need to know. These myths have been perpetuated in society forever. Growing up, I was in Brownies, Girl Scouts, and Cadets, where I did a lot of camping and outdoor activities. All the little white girls were getting sunscreen and no one was putting it on me. My mother never bought it either. We never had sunscreen in the house.
E! : Obviously, your position on sun protection has changed. Was there a specific momentum that changed your way of thinking?
KB: Yeah, I started getting hyperpigmentation around my mouth, those little black moles and I just thought they were genetic because all the older people in my family have them. I went to the dermatologist when they started showing up in my early 40s, and I thought “I know I’m going to get them, but they’re coming way too soon.” The dermatologist chuckled and said, “Honey, it’s not genetic. This is damage caused by the sun. I was completely overwhelmed.
I was like, “Wait, I’m black,” and she explained so much to me. I went to Walgreens to get sunscreen. When I first started using sunscreen in my usual routine, I would try to rub the sunscreen on and it left a white cast or got into my eyes. It was just a mess. It took me a while to discover mineral sunscreen. The mineral didn’t irritate me, but it didn’t work well on my skin because I couldn’t find any tinted options that worked for my skin. They either left me purple or gray. As I was looking for sunscreens and couldn’t find anything, I decided to create my own after spending 20 years in construction without any experience in this field.
For years, brands didn’t think of us or make products for us. Now everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. It’s so awesome to see brown and black girls in sunscreen commercials. That’s why I started this, nobody did it before me. I had to do it.