Aug 03, 2022

Shontay Lundy, founder & CEO, Black Girl Sunscreen

Black Girl Sunscreen wants to be known as something that you don't even think about putting on. It's incorporated into your everyday life. I put in the keywords sunscreen for women of color, sunscreen for Black girls, sunscreen for brown girls, sunscreen for ethnic skin, sunscreen for deep dark skin—and didn't find anything that actually spoke to me. So, once I realized that there wasn't anything that said, "Shontay, buy me," I was like, "Oh, OK. Is this an opportunity?"

The process was really understanding what Black women needed for their skin in this product and why it wasn't currently on the market. What I was looking for was something that removed the white cast, because that was the No. 1 issue amongst Black women—we didn't wear sunscreen because we didn't like how it made us look. I'm developing this idea for a product and trying to figure out what am I going to call it, and the first thing that came into my mind was "Black girl," because that's who I am, and that's who I identify as. And then sunscreen was just obvious.

It was so important to have the name Black Girl Sunscreen that when we went to trademark it, we were told that it would take five years. And we said, "OK, we're willing to fight the good fight. We're not going to change our name." Black Girl Sunscreen is a statement, because when you walk by it, you think in your mind, like, "Oh, they're literally speaking to me," if you identify with that. I have learned that it doesn't matter how good you are, Black women will always be scrutinized, Black businesses will always be scrutinized, because of what we look like. I might have an idea, and I might have to say the idea seven, eight, nine, 10 times before it is actually heard and valued. And this is still today.

It feels incredible to know that we are shifting the behavior around something that has been ignored and is not just an issue for people of color, but it is universal. With that being said, we're starting with a community that has been overlooked and underserved in this space. So we're really proud of that, because we're creating new customers for Walgreens. Black people don't go down the sun care aisle. They walk right by it. But now Black Girl Sunscreen, if they're looking for it, they're going to come down the aisle. We are providing a solution. We are providing something diverse. We're providing something that is creating change.

I was raised by my grandparents that said do everything with intention and with greatness. Because from a young age, I've always been taught to go and get it, and to do it well, that means from playing the violin to the first job at 15, to cheerleading, running track, everything that I was involved in, do your absolute best. And if you work hard, harder than most, your results will come with patience. My advice to a young person is, your current situation doesn't dictate your future, so work hard, be kind to people and follow what feels good to you.

If we just drop the word sunscreen for a second, Black girl is who I am. When I look in the mirror every day, I see a Black girl, and I love who I am. If I die and need to come back, I want to be a Black girl.

I am Shontay Lundy, the creator and founder of Black Girl Sunscreen, and this is my Shelf Life.