Bronx native launched sunscreen brand formulated for Black and brown kids

Dalaise Hickey photo lifestyle
Dalaisé Hickey, born and raised in the Bronx, founded her own sunscreen brand after struggling to find a formula that didn’t leave her kids covered in white streaks.
Photo courtesy Dalaisé Hickey

With the weather getting warmer, now might be time to replace that bottle of sunscreen that’s been stashed away. But for those with darker skin, grabbing any brand off the drugstore shelf may not work out so well. Finding a formula that doesn’t leave dark skin covered in white or grayish residue can be next to impossible. 

Enter BabyDonna, a sunscreen specifically created for Black and brown kids, created by Bronx native Dalaisé Hickey. 

In 2020, Hickey started looking for a naturally-formulated and non-streaky sunscreen for her young daughter who has eczema — but she came up empty. Asking around to friends for recommendations, she was met with shrugs. Everyone seemed to know there were no great sunscreen options for darker skin — and market research proved it to be true. 

Hickey, who grew up near Yankee Stadium and attended Lehman College for undergrad and Fordham University for grad school, was a social worker with no background in chemistry or business. But she saw a great opportunity to create a better sunscreen.

“Black and brown children are really left out of this market,” she realized. 

But even seeing the potential for a great business, Hickey was not quite ready to leave her career in social work. She mainly worked in the legal field with juvenile justice cases — and she loved her work. 

It took family tragedies — losing her aunt, mother and grandmother — for Hickey to realize that she’s “not gonna have much time on this earth to make my dream come true.” In 2021, she filed the LLC for BabyDonna — paying tribute to her mother Sheryl, whose middle name was Donna.

“I never thought I’d leave social work,” she said, “but I always wanted to make my own way.”

Hickey knew what she wanted to create: a sunscreen that would blend nicely into darker skin tones while being moisturizing, non-greasy and free of harmful chemicals. After finding a chemist in Florida who agreed to create the formula in a reasonable startup quantity, they tried many samples — which involved mailing back and forth and sharing videos of one Black employee at the lab rubbing on different formulas — until they landed on the right one. 

For Hickey, the final product hit all the right notes. BabyDonna sunscreen comes in stick form — easier to apply on squirming babies, she said. The formula is SPF 35, vegan, fragrance-free and environmentally friendly — free of the chemicals commonly found in sunscreens that can harm coral reefs

Three years after the inception of BabyDonna, the company is now Hickey’s main job, but she still maintains part-time social work hours and designed her company around making contributions to that field. Hickey donates sunscreen sticks to community groups and nonprofits, and she is giving part of the company’s proceeds to One Simple Wish, a nonprofit that grants the wishes of children in the foster care system. 

As a Black woman entrepreneur now living in Connecticut, Hickey has found a small but mighty support network. “It’s a much smaller space than you realize,” she said. But she has found a great community of fellow women business owners, and her product is gaining recognition and was even featured on the Today Show.

Hickey said her next goals are to launch a larger-sized stick for older kids and adults — which customers have been asking for — and to expand into more retail spaces. 

“It was great to get validation for something you’ve been working on for so long,” she said.

Reach Emily Swanson at or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes