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These Nigerian Women Created Sunscreen for Women of Color

Chinelo Chidozie and Ndidi Obidoa, want more people of color to wear sunblock.

The sisters-in-law are set to release a sunscreen catered towards people with darker skin complexions through their skin care line, The Bolden Company, which was incorporated in January 2012 after a family vacation.

The idea for the product was born while vacationing in Key West, Florida, as Chidozie and Obidoa spent a lot of time outdoors, soaking up the sun. Both women figured they needed to wear sunscreen but the sunscreen they donned left an unflattering white filmy residue.

“We decided to do something about it after that trip,” said Chidozie.

Image: Creators of Bolden
Ndidi Obidoa and Chinelo Chidozie (L-R) created Bolden skin care line to embolden and inspire black women to embrace their natural beauty.

The lack of options for folks of darker complexions led the sisters to fill a gap in the market.

“There’s an issue with education around sunscreen in the Black community. Even though skin cancer doesn’t affect people of color as much as it affects people with white skin, that makes it more dangerous because it’s often not caught until it’s in an advanced stage,” said Chidozie. “If you toast white and wheat bread, they both get burned. One just takes a longer time to show results.”

According to a July 2016 study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, only 37 percent of African-Americans wore sunscreen. And even though melanoma is higher in the white community, it’s more deadly for African-Americans, simply because side effects take longer to show up on darker tones, which often means a later diagnosis.

Although the sisters have several goals for their brand, one is to educate their community, as well as other people of color, about using sunscreen to protect from skin cancer.

Their sunblock is moisturizer based with SPF 30 and Vitamin C, and will dry clear on the skin.

But sunscreen is not their only product. The partners launched their first products, the Shea oil line, which includes both an unscented moisturizer for sensitive skin and hair and paraben-free moisturizer for dry skin and hair in 2015.

Image: Bolden's SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer.
Bolden's SPF 30 Brightening Moisturizer. Photo courtesy of Chinelo Chidozie

“We founded Bolden to make skincare that work for people that look like us. There are few beauty brands by Blacks and most of them are for hair,” said Obidoa.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Black women only made up 11 percent of the cosmetics manufacturing industry in 2016.

Chidozie and Obidoa want to contribute to the beauty market, which has limited options for deeper skin tones. They want consumers to know that they do not want brown people as the face of the product simply for a marketing ploy — they want to truly understand and deliver on the skin care needs and complexities of people of color.

“We want diversity at every level, at every seat at the table, starting with creating the formula,” said Obidoa.

Black people currently hold a buying power of $1 trillion, a number that's estimated to reach $1.3 trillion this year and grow to $1.5 trillion by 2021, according to the University of Georgia’s 2017 report on how minority spending drives the US economy.

According to Nielsen, African-Americans are spending a great deal of their money on cosmetics, since they are nine times more likely to purchase more ethnic and grooming products than any other group.

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Black women specifically, spend an estimated $7.5 billion annually on beauty products, dishing out 80 percent more on cosmetics and twice as much on skin care. Many say their biggest challenge is finding products that are effective and effectively marketed towards them, according to findings from ESSENCE’s Smart Beauty research panel.

Chidozie and Obidoa want Bolden be a one-stop beauty shop for people of color, offering resources and products to help combat common skin issues, like acne and hyper-pigmentation. With the creation of one of the first sunscreens designed for people of color, they’ll also be tapping into that buying power.

Their products are only sold online for now, but the entrepreneurs are in talks to bring their line in brick and mortar stores in early 2018.

“We want to be apart of the solution to have a more inclusive beauty standard, where brown girls and women feel bold and beautiful,” said Chidozie.

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