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Why we started Clair Obscur: Changing the status quo

As we dove into the topic of sun protection, we unsurprisingly found the data to be compelling: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation,

  • 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
  • More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.
  • Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.

More than the data, though, were concerning things about the sunscreen industry that made us mad and motivated us to do better:

  • In 2021, dozens of well-known sunscreens were found to be contaminated with the carcinogen benzene.
  • Companies on both ends of the spectrum, from startups to established brands, were marketing sunscreens for kids containing questionable chemical ingredients that dermatologists and pediatricians advised avoiding.
  • New sunscreen formats were coming out in blatant violation of FDA guidance for safety and effectiveness, with no way for the average consumer to suspect any issues.
  • Chemical sunscreen ingredients that have been banned in other countries or are not considered safe and effective by the FDA are still blatantly sold in the US, without any guidance or warning for consumers.

Proper sun protection is critical, and yet with headlines and realities like those above, we knew there was confusion, skepticism, fear, and avoidance among some consumers. We knew from personal experience that our loved ones either weren't wearing sunscreen on a regular basis, or were using sunscreens with ingredients that may be harmful to themselves and to the environment.

And we had friends who were purposely avoiding sunscreen altogether, for fear that there just wasn't a safe, trustworthy brand out there. Perhaps most surprisingly, even our friends and family who were personally dealing with melanomas and knew firsthand the importance of sun protection were still finding it difficult to build a habit. There just haven't been good options out there. We're passionate about solving this problem and doing sun care in a whole new way.