What is your background and what inspired you to found Solara?
I founded Solara to solve a need for my children, two of whom have skin allergies to chemical SPFs. In searching for an option for them, I recognized a gap on the shelf when it came to truly clean zinc SPF that was both pleasant to use and as good for your body and skin as other wellness-driven products. The more I asked around and shared my need, the more I heard from others a similar experience. That inspired me to find a solution! Enter Solara Suncare. Prior to starting Solara Suncare, I stayed home with my three children while also having the pleasure of consulting for several global consumer brands that I had worked with during my corporate days.
How do you see a connection between beauty, health and wellness? How does that inform your approach?
To me, they are all interconnected. Navigating my personal journey with Lyme Disease, it has never been more apparent to me how truly synergistic health, wellness and beauty really are. I don’t know that I ever realized the magnitude of that synergy until dealing with my body shutting down. I learned that what you put both in and on your body matters. While I like to live my life with balance (yoga in the AM, pizza in the evening! ;-), I can also say through my journey to wellness and healing that the power of meaningfully curated ingredients can have a powerful effect on defense, healing and vitality at the cellular level. So, that’s the inspiration I use in all of our products. We formulate every single product in the line with that connection back to wellness, high powered skin care and, of course, clean skin protection. Ingredients like ashwagandha, adaptive botanicals, zinc and high dose vitamin C are ingredients I take daily in my Lyme supplements to fight inflammation and boost cell repair – they work similarly in skincare and are all part of our proprietary PlantDFNS™ blend.
Skin protection is a unique category because I think, much like supplements, it’s one that should address each touchpoint of beauty, health and wellness. From combating UV, digital and environmental exposure to promoting cell repair, strengthening the skin barrier and brightening/plumping skin tone, we are really looking at our products holistically to serve each of those needs.
Why is safe skin protection important to you?
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Taking proper preventative measures can drastically reduce the chances of its occurrence which is why it’s more important than ever to have options that make you want to use it on yourself and your family 365 days a year. Having several friends and family members experience skin cancer first-hand, I will always maintain that the best sun protection is the one you will wear properly and daily. With Solara Suncare, we are choosing to focus on clean, mineral SPF because we had a very real and personal need to solve in our own family. We’ve seen a quickly growing number of people who are also seeking mineral options that are actually pleasant to use daily and are healthier for our bodies and the environment. We are here to solve that need and to be a new, multi-tasking tool in the arsenal of skin protection and cancer prevention.
What was the R+D process like, and what was important to you?
The R&D process was long – it took over three years to reach our launch in mid-2019. Although questionable SPF ingredients and clean beauty are top of mind today, we had been working on these first formulations since 2016 with the expertise of a talented cosmetic chemist who continues to be an important part of our development team today. It wasn’t easy to find a lab that would take on a small indie brand AND was FDA certified AND was accepting of the challenge to formulate mineral sunscreen differently. But we found a great partner that saw our vision and wanted to be a part of our journey. Beyond R&D, there is a very extensive testing protocol required for Broad Spectrum SPF. We choose to test according to both FDA and European guidelines, which are much stricter when it comes to measuring protection against cancer causing UVA rays and also requires full disclosure of every single ingredient on the label down to the .004%. This extra level of efficacy testing and ingredient transparency takes longer and isn’t required in the U.S., but it remains very important of our promise. We always choose to source responsibly and test for allergy/skin irritation because after all, that’s the reason I created the brand. The FDA doesn’t require that either, but we do.
The most important thing to me when formulating was doing it differently than what already existed in the suncare space. To me, sun protection is actually the foundation of good and preventative skincare, so it should be formulated accordingly with efficacious levels of skin loving actives. It’s not about chemical vs. mineral protection — it’s about the quality of ingredient list as a whole. Our mission is to make truly clean mineral formulations pleasant and something you’d want to use daily because you and your skin look and feel better doing so. Clean suncare that’s as results driven as supercharged skincare is a benefit we believe will help encourage more people to wear their SPF every day! After all, that’s the point! Skin health and protection and cancer prevention.
What has been the most gratifying part of seeing Solara launch and grow?
Such an exciting part of this journey has been seeing the reaction of my children to see the brand they helped me to create in the real world! As a mom, wife and female entrepreneur it’s a pretty wonderful feeling to show my children that you never give up on something you believe in, even when there are obstacles and naysayers.
This said, perhaps the most gratifying to me has been our growing tribe of customers who have really taken to our brand so quickly because we are playing a role in supporting their own wellness journeys. I received an email last month from a new customer who had recently undergone Mohs surgery for skin cancer removal. She was in search of a clean product for her sensitive skin to use daily post-surgery – she was so happy to have found our brand and was so excited to share with us that we solved a need for her at a time when she was going through a lot. That email really touched me. We have customers of ALL ages sharing that our products are the first mineral SPFs they’ve ever wanted to keep using daily whether for health reasons or environmental reasons. Truly, the reaction has been humbling, exciting and motivating because at the end of the day skin cancer is the number one form of cancer so skin damage and cancer prevention has never been more important. If we are able to provide a new, healthier solution for people to get excited about and use every day, we’re here for it!
What’s next for Solara?
We’re just getting started! We’re rolling out in four new national retailers, including overseas, so you’ll start to see our products popping up from department stores and beauty stores to wellness retailers and popular vacation resorts. We also have new products on the horizon that are a direct result of learning from our customers and solving needs they have – with that level of support, I know we can build this brand into something that touches even more people for many years to come!
For more about Solara Suncare, go here.