After struggling to locate the right sunscreen for her dark-skinned children, Dalaise Hickey, founder of BabyDonna, resorted to making her own sunscreen for melanated babies.
In 2022, the mother of two founded BabyDonna, a sheer, reef-safe mineral sunscreen stick for Black and Brown newborns, toddlers, and children in Shelton, Connecticut.
She expressed that finding good sunscreen products for children is difficult enough, but finding goods for children with dark skin is a different story.
“We’re on a mission to simplify this process for parents of color by offering an option with broad spectrum sun protection, that’s both pediatrician and dermatologist approved, but that doesn’t leave a thick white residue,” Hickey said to the Shelton Herald.
When the COVID-19 epidemic led to lockdowns, she finally had time to devote to her passion project. “I began to see the value of my time…and I began questioning what I was doing,” Hickey said. “I realized I wanted to do something I’m passionate about…It’s exciting…a dream coming true.”
The first step in her quest, she explained, was to find the proper chemist. She discovered the appropriate match after speaking with about 30 individuals, and distributed her first boxes of sunscreen sticks about a year later.
Hickey also revealed to The Story Exchange that, marketing was a challenge. She explained that as a startup, the capital required for major marketing efforts does not exist. As a result, her company has relied on word-of-mouth marketing, purchases from family and friends, customer feedback, and aid from nonprofit organizations that work with small company owners.
Today, she is proud to have the sunscreen choice that she has always wanted, and what parents of color require after nearly a year of study, development, and rigorous testing to guarantee her product met the strictest safety standards.
BabyDonna sunscreen is available in stick form to make application easier for babies, toddlers, and children. Her solution leaves no sticky white residue and is vegan, non-toxic, and non-greasy.
The application of sunscreen provides 80 minutes of water resistance and UV protection. According to Hickey, she spent years looking for the ideal sunscreen concoction. The chemicals in sprays and many lotions were alarming, but the necessity to protect a person’s skin from the sun’s damaging rays was critical.
BabyDonna is the only Black-owned sunscreen brand that sells a mineral sunscreen stick designed exclusively for babies with darker skin tones, Hickey disclosed to The Story Exchange.
According to its website, BabyDonna Sunscreen is a purpose-driven business that distributes 5% of its earnings to organizations that assist underprivileged children and adolescents.
Hickey hopes to collaborate closely with other communities as her company expands to provide programs and activities that will help these kids. Her goal, with her expertise in social work, is to provide internships to at-risk adolescents in order to provide them with employment prospects.
“This is my passion. It’s a great way for me to not only create a product for Black children but also create a platform to help vulnerable children,” Hickey mentioned.