Superdrug pledges increased SPF testing on darker skin tones

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 31-May-2022

The pledge forms a part of Superdrug’s Shades Of You campaign, which aims to implement ten actionable inclusivity changes across the business

Superdrug has pledged to increase SPF testing on darker skin tones by up to 35%, in an effort to improve skin type inclusivity for customers.

The skin care industry, according to the A.S. Watson-owned retailer, typically focus sunscreen testing on lighter skin types.

As a result only 4% of testers with darker skin are included in skin care trials.

The pledge forms a part of Superdrug’s Shades Of You campaign, launched in 2021, which saw the retailer commit to implementing ten actionable inclusivity changes across the business.

Campaign research found that over a third of consumers (35%) did not feel represented when shopping for health and beauty products on the high street.

The initiative has been praised by industry leaders.

“I am delighted to see Superdrug taking action and leading the way, once again, in terms of its commitment to inclusivity,” said Millie Kendall, CEO of The British Beauty Council.

“Products on our shelves should be suitable for all skin types and this protocol of testing product on the very people that will be buying it is essential and ultimately delivers consumer confidence and satisfaction in both the brand and the retailer.”

Skin care testing traditionally uses the Fitzpatrick Scale to classify skin tone.

This ranges from type one, classified as light, pale white skin that burns and never tans, to type six, very dark brown and black skin that never burns and tans easily.

Recent trials for Superdrug’s newest sun and skin care launch, B. SPF50, used a panel of 100 people with skin types five or six.

The budget retailer has also extended its range of black-owned brands by 5%, launching exclusive brands such as Nylah’s Naturals, Flora & Curl and Juvia’s Place.

“Superdrug has a long heritage of ensuring diversity and inclusivity is at the very heart of the business, and is integral to the brand identity,” said Sarah Jenkins, Head of Own Brand Quality at Superdrug.

“We want all of our customers to feel seen and included, whether that’s visiting us on their local high street, browsing online or engaging with our social channels. I’m thrilled to announce our latest Shades of You pledge and hope we inspire the rest of the industry to follow suit.”

There has been increased industry discussion around alerting people with darker skin to the risks of skin cancer in recent years.

The 2019 edition of the biennial Sun Protection Conference, saw Professor Caradee Wright of the South African Medical Research Council, discuss how skin cancer prevention messages should be delivered to the racially-diverse South African population.

Wright noted that both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer outcomes were poorer for the black population in South Africa (80.8% of the population) because of issues including socio-economic status, education and lack of insurance.

To reduce disparities, she recommended improving knowledge and awareness of skin cancer among medical professionals, as well as raising awareness around the early warning signs of skin cancer.

This was in addition to promoting skin cancer prevention strategies that do not solely focus on sun protection, which is more pertinent for the Caucasian population.

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