Health and beauty retailer Superdrug has pledged to increase SPF and sunscreen testing on darker skin tones to 35%.

The commitment means that moving forward Superdrug will include at least 35% of skin types 5 and 6 in its sun cream trials, moving away from the industry culture of testing only on skin types 1-3, in attempts to ‘lead the way in skin type inclusivity’.

According to the Fitzpatrick Scale – a traditional means of classifying skin tone – type 1 skin is ‘light, pale white skin that always burns and never tans’, while type 6 is ‘very dark brown and black skin that never burns and tans easily’. Historically, the way the skincare industry tested SPFs meant that testers with skin types 5 or 6 were grossly underrepresented, often accounting for just 4%.

With the new protocol already being implemented, trials were recently conducted for the retailer’s newest B. SPF50 sun care launch using a panel of 100 people with skin types 5 and 6; 91% of participants reported that the product didn’t leave a white cast on the skin and 94% said it felt lightweight.

This protocol of testing product on the very people that will be buying it is essential

The move represents Superdrug’s latest pledge in its Shades of You campaign, launched in 2021, which led the business to extend its range of Black-owned brands by 5%.

Sarah Jenkins, head of own-brand quality, Superdrug, comments: “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. 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.”

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