Luca Sunscreen founded by Dr. Karl and Georgia Gruber of Charleston, SC in 2005 is possibly the best sunscreen I have ever used. I am usually not a product endorser but in this case I am making a huge exception. You know how every year Oprah has her “Favorite Things” show… Well, think of this as “Ally May’s Favorite Products of 2012!” www.lucasunscreen.com
Georgia & Karl, how did the idea of Luca conceptualize?
We never planned on going into the sunscreen business – in fact, until our son, Luca, came along we had never really given sunscreen much thought. We decided that our two year old son was old enough to head into the sun and discover the beach, so we rented a home on Folly Beach, South Carolina in June 2005. Being the SuperMom that I was, I made sure to purchase sunscreen in all SPF types. Wow! Even an SPF 100! That makes me even a better Mom, right? Well after 2 days on the beach we discovered that Luca was allergic to numerous types of sunscreens and experienced burning and irritation after each application. Can you only imagine how this affected our vacation?? Our 10 year old daughter spent hours in the sun and in the water while Luca sat on the porch or had to wear long sleeved shirts and hat out in the sun; absolutely NO sunscreen at the beach. Needless to say, after 4 days, we packed it up and headed home.
After visiting the pediatrician and dermatologist multiple times between July and September and still on the hunt for answers, we decided to take matters in to our own hands by contacting an experienced sunscreen formulator Craig Bonda…. I mean he formulated Neutrogena….he was the best! And he really is! Now, I do have to state that my husband Karl is a physician, a pathologist. Secondly he has a background in chemistry and physics which helps when you’re making a call to a scientist and asking him all sorts of complicated questions but most importantly, “Why is my son unable to tolerate sunscreen?” We were so lucky to discover that Craig’s passion for sunscreen and education made it easy for us to want to learn more about this extremely complex subject. Did I mention that I’m Italian and worshiped the sun but always wore sunscreen on my face because I certainly didn’t want wrinkles? So with my olive complexion, as well as Karl’s, we created a blonde haired, green eyed boy with SUPER sensitive FAIR skin. For months when he came home, I was certain he was switched at birth. Now back to Craig, upon learning that most sunscreens provide the same UVB protection, which prevents you from BURNING (UVB is for Burn and UVA is for Aging) UVA on the other hand was a different issue. UVA ray penetration is an entirely different wavelength…one that can penetrate deep into the dermis, destroying DNA and breaking down healthy collagen and ultimately causing thinning of the skin, wrinkles, sun spots but the FEAR of all FEAR, melanoma. So with Craig’s help we decided to create a formula that would not only be hypoallergenic but would also provide superior UVA protection. From there we continued to grow and market our brand focusing on Craig’s dream formula, a superior quality sunscreen that would protect one from harmful UVA rays….and so critical wavelength became our focus. Our new goal, prevention of skin cancer and melanoma in a wearable daily moisturizing sunscreen with the highest critical wavel on the market.
What sets Luca Sunscreen apart from its competition?
LUCA sunscreen VOLTUNTARILY provides information to its customers about the full level of UV protection they are receiving. While other sunscreens provide an SPF value to measure UVB protection, LUCA goes above and beyond this to provide a Critical Wavelength™ (CW) value which measures into the UVA spectrum. What most people don’t know is that typical sunscreens don’t even offer protection against half of the UVA range of the UV spectrum! These rays, while not producing the immediate, visible effects of UVB rays (sunburn and redness) are the ones that lead to aging (wrinkles and thinning of the skin) and melanoma. So how do you know what your level of UVA protection is? It’s called critical wavelength (CW). Every sunscreen has a CW value. It’s part of the formulating process. During the testing and formulating process both an SPF value and a CW value are produced. The FDA ONLY requires a SPF value on the bottle. The key to know a products CW value tells a consumer how far out a sunscreen protective umbrella extends across the UVB/UVA spectrum. Want to know how much protection you’re getting from your sunscreen? Well, what’s the CW value? Not on the bottle? Well, why not? Doesn’t that product want you to know the level of UVA protection you’re getting? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the use of products with a CW over 370nm, in order to be defined as BROAD SPECTRUM UV protection. Well, finally after 6 years of pushing the FDA to provide quality protection on sunscreens, beginning June 2012, any product with a 370nm CW will ONLY be able to use the language, “BROAD SPECTRUM PROTECTION”. Currently all sunscreen products can loosely use this term. It’s this type of behavior that unfortunately gives the public a false sense of security when you’re out in the sun. So, you go out in the sun, you DON’t burn, and so you feel that you’ve been protected, right? WRONG! The effects of UVA damage can’t be seen today, but rather in the future. That’s the difference between UVB and UVA.
How did you start to gravitate in to the sport sunscreen market?
LUCA Sunscreen SPF 15 and SPF 30 is primarily used as a daily moisturizer. This 2 in 1 moisturizer and sunscreen should be used in your daily morning routine. So what do you do when you want to jump in the pool or ocean , golf, play tennis or cycle? You need a non-greasy, ultra sweat proof, water resistant product that won’t sting your eyes…..and so we created LUCA Max Sport which is 68% water and contains NO alcohol with a CW of 372!!! Pure pleasure to be in the sun with a sunscreen that won’t interfere in your game plan.
I know this is about LUCA Sunscreen but can you share with us a little about your other great product, LUCA Lash?
Karl was talking with another formulator during the fall of 2009 about the new hype, eyelash conditioners and lengtheners. So he asked if he could create a paraben free and all natural product without hormones to try out. During this time our Director of Sales was undergoing chemotherapy in October 2009 for breast cancer. Experiencing the loss of hair was traumatic enough, she quickly asked Karl if she could use the ONE sample he had acquired so that she wouldn’t lose her lashes and eyebrows, too. After receiving clearance from her oncologist, she applied nightly and during her treatment she never lost her eyelashes and eyebrows. And so there began another chapter of LUCA Lash, the introduction of LUCA Lash, a paraben and hormone free eyelash enhancer and conditioner that helps lengthen and condition your lashes in 2-6 weeks! It contains vitamins A, C and E as well as botanicals including: green and white tea, cucumber leaf extract, chamomile and aloe leaf juice for additional eyelash conditioning! Unlike other popular eyelash enhancers on the market, LUCA Lash will not cause iris or eyelid darkening because it does not contain bimatoprost (found in Latisse) or prostaglandins. I personally use it on my eyebrows. After 15 years of waxing my eyebrows, they don’t grow back and LUCA Lash has given me my eyebrows back! No more penciling in the ends of my brows. Finally after years I have bangs so you can see my eyebrows and lashes!
Take home message
* Use a quality sunscreen daily, no more than SPF 30. Your sunscreen should have 1 of the following ingredients: ZINC, TITANIUM OR STABILIZED AVOBENZONE. If your Avobenzone is not stabilized, it can break down in the sun after 15 minutes…that’s why CW is so important. Or ask what the CW or your sunscreen is.
* And always wear a hat and long sleeves.
* Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the top of your hands when you’re driving and the ears are always left out, so don’t forget them.
* Skin cancer and melanoma don’t discriminate. Doesn’t matter what shade your skin is, protect it.
Dr. Karl Gruber with Ingrid and Luca
Luca & Georgia Gruber