With New Brand Solara Suncare’s Clean Formulas, Mineral Sunscreen Usage Doesn’t Come At The Expense Of Good Skincare
While on a beach vacation four years ago, Stephanie DiPisa’s then 8-year-old son Joseph broke out in a terrible rash. “It had gotten so bad that we had to stay out of the sun and in the hotel room,” she says. “That’s the worst thing you can do on vacation when you’re at the beach.”
It turns out Joseph was experiencing a severe reaction to chemical sunscreens. To avoid them, DiPisa picked up zinc sun-protection options, but everything she tried was disappointing. They were sticky, super white and irritating. Meanwhile, DiPisa was battling Lyme disease and carefully scrutinizing the ingredients she was putting in and on her body. Her new clean brand Solara Suncare responds to the needs of discerning shoppers like her and parents wanting the best for their children with plant-driven formulas designed to avoid the pastiness of their mineral sunscreen predecessors.
“This isn’t just a product for moms to use on their kids. In my opinion, there’s a gap on sunscreen shelves where skincare and sunscreen meet in the natural, clean space. That’s where the evolution of the line took us,” says DiPisa, who had a distinguished public relations career with stops at Weber Shandwick, Porter Novelli, Citizen Relations and her own consulting operation prior to jumping into the beauty industry. “With the top labs and testing facilities, we launched a seven-product line with products for the entire family and products that cross over into the beauty space.”
DiPisa’s merchandise strategy was to start with an assortment not lacking products for regular use or traveling. Priced from $16 to $42, it contains Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen, Glow Getter Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen, Pout Protector Moisturizing Lip Serum, JuiceBoost Defense Boosting Serum, and Clean Freak Nutrient Boosted Daily Sunscreen in scented and unscented varieties. They feature a blend of 10 botanicals the brand dubs PlantDFNS, including kakadu plum, ashwagandha, squalane, perilla leaf, shea butter and pomegranate flower, and all have SPF 30 with the exceptions of the SPF 15 lip serum Pout Protector and non-SPF post-sun skin revitalizer JuiceBoost Defense.
“These become part of your skincare regimen, and they complement it versus fighting against it, which is what a lot of sunscreens do.”
“We believe Solara Suncare is the next generation of sun protection. We have married the concept of natural SPF that actually rubs in with skincare benefits that are multitasking. That truly is different,” says DiPisa. “These become part of your skincare regimen, and they complement it versus fighting against it, which is what a lot of sunscreens do. You spend $100 on your serum, but your chemical sunscreen may be irritating your skin underneath. We are merging skincare and sunscreen together to create a single product.”
To guide the development of Solara Suncare, DiPisa conducted focus groups of millennial consumers. She discovered they don’t have a high opinion of zinc sunscreens. Similar to her, they’ve been disappointed by unappealing applications of zinc. In addition, millennials in the focus groups were confused about what cosmetic ingredients are safe or unsafe, and desired waterproof formulas. Solara Suncare made its SPF products water-resistant to satisfy their interest in waterproof products. For its zinc sunscreens to overcome skepticism, DiPisa explains the brand’s formulas withstood extensive assessments to arrive at the optimal dispersion.
“It’s a process that doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of trial and error. For us, the biggest piece of the equation was to find the proper level of zinc that’s efficacious, but also isn’t like toothpaste and do that with natural ingredients,” she says, noting the zinc concentration in Solara Suncare’s products rises up to 20%. “Where we used to have the idea that zinc is lifeguard white, independent brands like ours have found ways to reimagine zinc. That’s what we have achieved with these products to make them different than other zinc products on the market. We have done it without silicones, chemical boosters and petroleum-derived ingredients. For a specific consumer, that’s really important.”
“Where we used to have the idea that zinc is lifeguard white, independent brands like ours have found ways to reimagine zinc.”
To clarify its ingredient positioning, Solara Suncare sticks to European Union ingredient standards and steers clear of six ingredient classifications it spells out on its website: chemical sun filters, synthetic fragrances, polyethylene glycols (PEGs), silicones, drying alcohols, and common no-no compounds for clean beauty brands such as parabens, phthalates and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). DiPisa says, “I don’t want questions when it comes to my health or my children’s health. I rather not touch ingredients if there’s a question around them.”
Solara Suncare’s 100% recyclable packaging was conceived to sit alongside high-end skincare brands. That’s critical because it’s going to sit alongside those brands at stores. Solara Suncare will soon make its retail debut at Neiman Marcus. Outside of Neiman Marcus, clean beauty retailers The Detox Market and Credo are the brand’s retail targets as well as bigger chains. DiPisa declined to discuss Solara Suncare’s first-year sales goal.
“As more large and mainstream retailers from beauty meccas like Sephora, Ulta and Target to fashion empires like Anthropologie and Revolve increase the shelf space for up-and-coming clean brands like mine, our goal is to be on shelf there,” she says. “Their large stages really provide a place of discovery for the masses who may be considering the switch to cleaner choices, but aren’t sure what to trust. It would help reinforce our message that premium, truly clean skin and sun protection is not only possible and important, but it can be a seamless part of your overall beauty regimen.”
DiPisa foresees Solara Suncare as a global brand and prepared it from the beginning for distribution beyond the United States. To grow its product range, she suggests Solara Suncare will zero in on specific parts of the body. DiPisa envisions it one day expanding its product portfolio to become a lifestyle brand. She says, “I very much want to stay in the sun protection lane because that’s what I’m passionate about, but I can see us doing bigger things under that umbrella.”