mandaforwordpress

I love me some summer fun in the sun about as much as I love coral reefs – which is a lot. However, in some evil twist of modern day chemistry, most standard sunblocks contain toxins that harm the delicate ecosystems of reefs. These same toxins are absorbed through your incredibly porous skin when you slather the stuff on. Because of this, I’ve been on the hunt for that illusive environmentally-kind yet effective natural sunblock.

So, imagine how stoked I was to get to try out Manda, an organic sun paste.

Manda comes in the cutest bamboo pot that contains a driftwood-colored paste. The color comes from the thanaka, which balances the natural white of the zinc. Zinc oxide is the real active ingredient here, and the kind found in Manda is non-nano, which means it won’t absorb into your skin; that means better protection for the outside and inside of your body.

Thanaka is a natural cosmetic from the bark of a small tree in Myanmar that has been used as a sun protectant by locals for years. High in Vitamin E, thanaka is an antioxidant which means it protects not only against UV rays, but also pollutants and free radicals.

Other ingredients include organic coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, cacao powder, cinnamon oil … and that’s it! Good enough to eat.

Here’s the catch. Putting it on is pretty labor intensive. Even on a hot day the paste takes some serious handling before it emulsifies enough to work onto your skin, and it’s so thick it doesn’t spread well. It took so long to work over my face that I gave up by the time I got to my décolletage and grabbed my go-to sunscreen to finish the job.

Also, because thanaka and zinc work their protective magic by sitting on top of the skin instead of being absorbed, you can see its telltale mark. While this helps the user know if they missed a spot, it is not always a desired look. Manda happens to be pretty much the color of my skin, but I imagine that on fairer skin it would show up dark, and on darker skin the protectant would be lighter. Some might not mind this … Manda’s Instagram is full of cute photos of athletic, sunkissed folk with Manda lines drawn across their cheekbones like war paint. But I wasn’t into it.

While I love Manda’s mission, ingredient list, and even the packaging, the user experience left quite a bit to be desired. Which is why my search for the perfect earth and body-friendly sunscreen continues.