It’s long been proven that sunscreen is a crucial element in the fight against pre-mature aging and skin cancer. And while there are heaps of products from which to choose, I’ve found it difficult to find one that ticks all of the boxes on my requirement list — non-greasy, not sticky, light-weight, full coverage, no white residue, pleasant odor. Enter Be Free sunscreen from Dandelion Sun. Created by Marlena Chang and Stephanie Marks, Be Free is the first product I’ve found that encompasses all of my needs. Made from natural botanicals, the broad-spectrum lotion is silky to the touch, easy to apply, light enough to wear under make-up, and keeps those sun rays at bay.
Marks and Chang met as students at UC Davis, and, after graduating, launched their skin care company. I recently exchanged emails with Marks regarding the origin of Dandelion Sun, the products they offer, and their plans for the future.
Did the fact that you went to university with an agricultural bent help with the formulation of Dandelion? We definitely developed an appreciation for plant-based ingredients because on our education at UC Davis. We majored in business and communication at UC Davis but going to one of the top agricultural universities was very inspirational. I took courses in food science and nutrition, which developed into a passion. It was a very cool campus. In the dorms, I had cows for neighbors.
How long did it take you and Marlena to go from idea to actual product? We’d discussed the idea for years but once we decided to go for it, things happened fairly quickly. It took half a year from founding the company to launching.
How did you decide which labs to use? We let people decide. Marlena has worked with several labs over the years, but we wanted to do our due diligence, so we researched nearly all the labs that fit our criteria (made in U.S., vegan, cruelty-free, clean ingredients, etc.). From that list, we narrowed it down and tested samples on as many people as possible. This formulation was the obvious favorite.
What was the number one thing people said they wanted from a sunscreen? For it to not feel like a sunscreen (greasy, chemical smell) but to provide maximum protection. Our lightweight formulation melts into your skin leaving no residue and is clinically proven. It’s anti-aging and packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like vitamin C and E, avocado oil, Japanese green tea leaf extract, and frankincense. Plus, it’s broad spectrum SPF 30. I have fair skin and recently used it in Costa Rica — I didn’t get sunburned once.
It seems that some of the best sun defense products leave a layer of white lotion on your skin. How do you make an effective sun ray blocker that doesn’t leave the residue? It’s the formulation, especially the type of sunscreen ingredients and percentages. For example, zinc oxide is a great, nature sunscreen ingredient which we use. However, if it’s the only one, you get that white cast. So, we tested other effective sunscreen ingredients and various levels to find the right formula.
How do your products Hibiscus Glow herbal tea and Sun Blossom serum align with your healthy skin mission? All of our products are focused on improving your skin’s health using botanical, plant-based ingredients….Sun Blossom is our hyaluronic acid serum which we are really excited about.…It will be in the same vegan, anti-aging collection as our SPF moisturizer and great as a sun damage corrector. Like Be Free, Sub Blossom will also be multi-tasking — it helps with hydrating, firming, and repairing the skin.
Hibiscus Glow, our beauty tea, takes us in a new direction. We both love tea and because of Marlena’s Chinese heritage, she has a lot of knowledge in herbal teas and their health benefits. We wanted to create a blend that was holistically good for your body and skin as well as tastes delicious….We use yummy ingredients like goji berry for energy, fennel seed for a metabolism boost, hibiscus and rose for a host of reasons (vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-bacterial…) and shatavari root, which is commonly used in Ayurverdic medicine and has anti-aging properties.
Do you have plans to expand your product line beyond the three you currently have? Yes! We have more products in the pipeline. The success we’ve had so far encourages us to keep developing.