Jonathan sits down with Stephanie Dipisa, founder and CEO of Solara Suncare. Stephanie wanted to create safer and healthier sunscreen after her own personal journey through illness. Out of her 3 children, 2 of them have allergies to chemicals in sunscreens and as she researched it, she learned that these chemicals build up in the body.
Sunscreen is a known endocrine disruptor. The FDA is looking into recognizing that the chemicals are showing up at levels higher than is recognized as safe. Solara Suncare is taking high level, premium zinc and blending with plant defense – 10 active botanicals, to help provide an even better skin feel and experience than traditional zinc products.
As the brand grows, they are seeing a wave of new customers that are proactively looking for alternatives that are safer for their health and environment. They have a strong customer base to begin with but people are proactively searching and looking for alternatives. They have grown through credentialed partnerships and certifications. One important partner they’ve worked with is the Environmental Working Group. They help bring to light questionable ingredients in all types of consumer products. Solara Suncare is one of few brands that has that credential because it’s a process where every single ingredient is reviewed.
For Stephanie, it’s important that they say they are clean and mean it.
“If we’re concerned about environmental impact, we mean it and are putting dollars and cents behind it,” said Stephanie.
She continues to say that it doesn’t matter the size of the impact as long as you’re making that effort. While they are small and new, partnerships like 1% For The Planet are aligning with brands like them. They just joined the 1% FTP network and are looking at nonprofits to align with.
The conversation shifts to ambassadors. Stephanie says that they are mindful of who they partner with as they try to ensure they have diverse representation. They try to find ambassadors that speak in the same voice and offer a level of education. Some examples of their ambassadors would include people who focus on yoga, meditation, healthier eating choices, naturopathic doctors and dermatologists.
Stephanie started out in public relations and credits how her previous career has helped her business grow. She helped channel that experience to build the brand to look different, feel different and have a different POV. As the brand has grown, she has embraced progress over perfection. She believes that some things you do need to have buttoned up. She wanted to make sure people understand what they stand for and how they’re different.
Sunscreen is one of the most difficult products in skincare to formulate because of the restrictions on what Solara Suncare will and won’t use. From a testing perspective, here in the US, this is an FDA regulated OTC product. She was never making this in her kitchen. During development she went out and picked everyone’s brain to find the right path forward, including working with an independent chemist. She built a panel of experts to help her navigate and find the right manufacturing partners. They own the formulas and it’s taken many years.
Their products use adaptogens – botanicals that have amazing ability to self protect and can adapt in extreme conditions. They have innately protective qualities about them. All of their products cover the full spectrum of UVA, UVB, bluelight and pollution. It’s more than just the sun that affects skin. Jonathan and Stephanie talk through the EU guidelines and how the embrace them. Europe has banned over 1600 ingredients and requires that everything on the label must be written and included down to .004%. For Solara Suncare, it was a no-brainer because it’s transparency. The other thing that Europe does differently is the way they test SPF value. In Europe, a third of that SPF number must be proven to cover against the damaging UVA rays. For the U.S.10 is the number you have to hit.
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