Often when I'm talking to people about Bark and our mission to provide simple, easy-to-use skin and body care products, I get asked to make specific items. Usually they are along the lines of unusually scented soaps or lotions that fit a certain skin type. I write all of these suggestions down and usually bring them back to the lab to see what I can do and how I can best address whatever people want.
Inevitably, I get someone (especially here in Texas in the long, hot days of summer) who asks "Do you guys make sunscreen?" Then I have to 'fess up - the answer is and (for the forseeable future) will always be NO.
Don't get me wrong - I would love to be able to manufacture a reliable sunscreen that was moisturizing, mostly natural, palm-free and, most of all, EFFECTIVE. But in our current format, it simply can't be done. Here's why:
First off, we are a small company. As such, we can't pay to have a Bark-manufactured sunscreen professionally tested to ensure the SPF factor is accurate to put on the label. Likewise, we don't have the specialized equipment necessary to do the tests ourselves. Making sunscreen is a complicated process, involving much testing, and we strive to be as accurate as possible in our labeling.
Formulations must be verified or standardized for their efficacy. Because we are not a sunscreen company, we would sorta be going in blind and formulating based on our knowledge of skin cleansing and moisturizing properties - not the ideal in this situation. Transmittance/absorbance of ultraviolet (UV) radiation is carefully measured to meet key parameters. And by the way, that "verified" part I talked about?
In order to claim a specific SPF (or the label "broad-spectrum"), sunscreens have to be tested by the methods set by the FDA. This, of course, requires even more expensive lab tests to ensure longevity, shelf stability, safety and whether the product meets the requirements (updated as of 2019) of "broad spectrum."
So you see our predicament. But here's the twist - we're OK with it.
We don't aim to be the best at sunscreen. There are plenty of other companies that do that (and do it well). We aim to provide our customers with the best products that we believe we EXCEL at making. So keep buying those Bark soaps and bath bombs, body butters and lotions, cremes, salts and scented goodness.
We'll leave the sunscreen to the SPF professionals. But for the rest of what you need? We got you.