Venus Williams Was "Frustrated" by the Lack of Transparent Sunscreen Options — So She Created Her Own Line

And tennis-playing 64-year-olds are impressed.

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Venus Williams Was “Frustrated” by the Lack of Transparent Sunscreen Options — So She Created Her Own Line
Photo: Getty Images

Let 2022 be known as the year that, if nothing else good happened, a slew of gorgeous mineral sunscreens graced the world. Frankly, it's a little unnerving to apply a water-like non-nano zinc oxide formula and watch it disappear into skin, but it's also vastly satisfying to see brands like EleVen by Venus Williams answer the call for innovation. So when Williams offered to answer a few questions about her latest creations — the Ace the Day Face Lotion SPF 30 and the Game. Set. Match. Body Lotion SPF 50 — I was excited to learn more about the process.

If you've tried mineral sunscreens before, you know how rare it is to find one that's truly transparent. But EleVen's newbies pull it off: Both mineral sunscreens absorb within five seconds (you know I timed it) and are loaded with hydrating allantoin, bisabolol, and coconut fruit extract, which give them a silky, conditioning texture and finish. The face sunscreen gives my skin a glow so luminous, I can skip foundation altogether, and I have no need to layer moisturizer on top. The brand's first release back in 2020, the Unrivaled Sun Serum, set the bar high with a unique lightweight texture that calms, firms, and protects skin — but the two new, lower-priced sunscreens don't disappoint, and dare I say, are even easier to use.

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After trying them — and having my 64-year-old, tennis-playing mom test drive them on the court — we're both thoroughly impressed (and my mom is famously critical, so that's saying something). Per my mom's discerning review, the water-resistant properties are sound; even after long, sweaty hours at an outdoor tennis clinic, she emerged without any burns. Ahead, Williams walks InStyle through the thinking behind the two newest, sunnily-packaged additions to her EleVen by Venus sunscreen family, and how she staves off "going full-on raisin mode" despite years in the blistering sun.

Why did you want to launch a mineral sunscreen, as opposed to a different kind of formula? How long did the new sunscreens take to develop?

Clean beauty and sun care have always been passions of mine, and I give a lot of thought to the ingredients I put on my body. In launching my own sunscreen, I wanted to bring a product that met my own personal beauty standards.

This sunscreen has been years in the making. Once I started prioritizing SPF in my skin routine, I realized how limited the options were. Based on my personal experiences, I took it upon myself to develop a formula that was safe, effective, and suitable for all skin tones. The clean-beauty experts at Credo were able to help make my dreams a reality, starting with our best-selling, award-winning, dermatologist-loved Sun Serum in 2020.

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Many mineral SPFs turn ashy on deeper skin tones — how does EleVen's avoid that?

Our unique blend of natural extracts, vitamins, and minerals have been through countless rounds of testing and adjustments to ensure that the final product is something I, and all of our customers, will want to use every day. A combination of hydrating, nourishing, restorative, calming, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant components prevent this natural SPF from turning ashy on deeper skin tones, and it is super safe and effective.

You've had a long tennis career — how many sunscreens do you think you've tried in that time? Were you ever frustrated with how they felt?

Way too many to count! I always felt like I was sacrificing one thing for another, whether that be safety, effectiveness, or aesthetics. I was so frustrated with the options that I had to make my own.As an athlete, I'm very particular about what I put in and on my body, and when it came to sunscreen, I struggled to find a product that had all the elements I was looking for.

I didn't want to walk around with a white cast or a sunscreen that caused breakouts, and I definitely didn't want my game to suffer because harsh ingredients were stinging my eyes. Working with Credo has been amazing, because they understand the value of clean beauty and share my passion for expanding the clean SPF category. Now, I have an SPF that I am excited to use and proud to share with other people.

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When do you apply sunscreen before a match? Sunscreens are often greasy — how do you minimize slippery hands? Do you ever reapply while playing?

I apply sunscreen in the morning, before I hit the court, and throughout the day. That's what I love about my products, they never feel heavy or greasy. I even rub the extra on top of my hands to keep them from going full-on raisin mode before it's too late.

Is anything else in your pre-match beauty routine?

My pre-match routine starts way before the day-of, with some good old-fashioned beauty sleep. Prioritizing sleep is the best thing you can do for your health. A good night's sleep is crucial for a clear mind, productive day, and healthy body. In terms of unwinding, I swear by the power of magnesium. I always travel with Asutra's magnesium products – I don't leave home without them [Editor's note: Williams is Asutra's part-owner and chief brand officer]. They help to ease sore muscles, but also support sleep.

Finally, taking some time for yourself at the end of the day is so important. So many of us are moving at what feels like 100 miles an hour and don't take those moments of reflection, peace, and reset. No matter what, I really believe that the last part of your day should be a moment to breathe. Taking those moments for myself is so crucial to my own mental health.

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After an especially tough match, how do you recover?

The best thing after a tough match is a proper cool down. I typically prefer a 10-minute walk or brief ride on a stationary bike. I then spend a good amount of time stretching — it's important to decrease muscle tension after a tough workout. Another thing I do to help recover is take a relaxing Epsom salt bath. My favorite is Asutra's Soak the Pain Away because it has magnesium in it, which helps both my body and my mind decompress.

What was the packaging inspiration?

I wanted the packaging to reflect the product: light, bright, and beautiful. The sleek white tube gets a pop of color from the bright yellow cap, making for a beautiful package fit for a beautiful product. I just love the way it looks in my bathroom cabinet and in my tennis bag — it makes me happy.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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