I Couldn’t Find an SPF for My Skin Tone—So I Helped Create One
I have a confession to make...I’m a native Angeleno who has spent most of my life in sunny, 75+ degree weather never wearing sunscreen. I’ve been a beauty product junkie ever since I can remember and growing up I put a lot of emphasis on how to cover and reverse my “imperfections” vs. preventing them. We all have those family beauty secrets and one I can vividly remember is my grandmother telling me to use cocoa butter religiously to fade scars. When that didn’t work as fast as I wanted it to, I experimented with the skin lightener, hydroquinone, which left my face looking a whole shade lighter than the rest of my body! And, by the way, I wasn’t using sunscreen with that (GASP). Little did I know (back then), exposure to the sun without protection can make scars and dark spots worse.
It’s a common misconception that highly-melanated people do not need to use sunscreen. Yes, many of us melanin-rich peeps may not get sunburned as quickly or as severely as others, but the risk of skin cancer is still real—so it's better to be safe than sorry and embrace the sun protection life.
The Importance of SPFMy proper sunscreen education began almost ten years ago when I joined the product team for a prestige skincare company. I’m grateful for my time there because I learned so much about the structure of the skin and how important skin damage prevention is. Once damage is done, it’s nearly impossible to reverse, so the best thing you can do for your skin is take care of it now so it looks better later.
Here’s a quick lesson on sun UV (ultraviolet) radiation and SPF without getting all “sciency” on you. UV light is produced by the sun and there are two types that can increase your risk for skin cancer: UVA is linked to aging (hence the “A”) and UVB is linked to burning (hence the “B.”) If you want to avoid burning and prevent accelerated aging, use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or higher, which helps protect against both. And you should use it every day, in all climates, even if you’re inside. Just because you can’t see the sun and its rays, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Plus, sun damage is cumulative, so all those mornings you spend three minutes by window, drinking your coffee and gearing up for the day, add up.
Not All Sunscreens Are Created EqualThere are so many SPFs on the market but, unfortunately, many of them have downsides for you or the environment. I personally used chemical sunscreen for years because it was the only type that didn't show up white or purple on my skin (a common problem that comes from wearing physical sunscreens formulated with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide). I would sometimes feel a burning sensation after applying these formulas. Plus, there are many chemical sunscreens on the market that use ingredients like oxybenzone, benzophenone-2, nano zinc oxide, nano titanium dioxide, and many others that can harm marine life.
Other SPF vs. Versed SPF
How (and Why) We Created Guards UpWhen we started to develop Versed’s first ever sunscreen, we knew it had to be a non-nano zinc oxide product with the highest SPF possible—without leaving a white cast. To start, I tried everything out there (and I mean everything) only to be left disappointed after each one. Sounds a bit dramatic, but I was really surprised that so many great brands—both in the prestige market and drugstores—were okay with launching a product that didn't work for ALL skin tones. I was up for the challenge. This was not only a personal pain point for me but also an exciting one as ever since Versed launched in 2019, SPF was easily our most requested product.
We tried dozens of sunscreen formula submissions with different SPF levels and various active ingredients, hoping to achieve the perfect balance between ample sun protection and a non-ghostly finish. Most were rejected for being too heavy, too oily, too drying, too white, too purple...It was a long process, but we got there and our community agreed. For those of you who don’t know, all Versed formulas go through rigorous testing, starting internally and later with members of our community, to make sure each product is actually something you want. After going through the very strict FDA testing requirements and waiting for our new tube made with 79% post consumer recycled plastic, the finished product has (finally!) arrived and I’m so happy we are able to share what I think is one of the best all-physical, invisible, clean, efficacious SPF products available.
So with all that said, I hope you LOVE it. I truly do (I’m not BS-ing you...I literally used every lab sample I had down to the last drop and have been waiting to get my hands on the actual finished product). And if you have thoughts or feedback, please drop us a line. We really do mean it when we say good skin and clean products for all.
-Tamerri Ater, Versed Product Development Director