We’ve stocked MANDA since we launched Outerknown. We love using their products from all-day beach hangs and pool parties to six-hour sessions at Cloudbreak. Everything they make is the highest quality all-natural and organic (food grade) ingredients. No harmful chemicals or synthetics are added, making it non-toxic, kid-friendly, and reef-safe. Nearly 75% of the world's coral reefs are at risk, so opting for safer sunscreen is the least we can do.
Cyrus Sutton is a professional surfer, a filmmaker, an environmentalist, and, more recently, a co-founder of MANDA. We called him up to get the lowdown on MANDA’s wholesome origins…
What inspired your MANDA journey?
My dad got diagnosed with skin cancer about ten years ago, and he wore traditional chemical sunblock religiously — he was outside a lot; he surfed a lot. It was around that time that I started becoming aware of the different chemicals in sunscreen. I have been surfing professionally since I was 18, and I really took my health into my own hands. I wanted anything that went on my body to be as natural as possible — and that extended to my sunblock. Surfers are really looking at their impact on the places they love the most. We are canaries in the coal mine, to some extent.
Not only is it good for us, it’s ocean-friendly too?
The active ingredient is non-nano zinc oxide, which is the only ingredient widely accepted as reef-safe. Sunscreen is a dirty industry, and the human and environmental effects of the chemicals in all major sunscreens are only beginning to be understood. Like so many systems today, the sun care industry is also being dismantled. Recently, the FDA published another study, and non-nano zinc is the only active one currently recognized by the FDA as safe for human use.
We loved that first batch of paste! How did you land on that original recipe?
I started making my own sunscreen. It was trial and error over the years, but it went well. My buddies who I started Korduroy.tv with told me they wanted to make a company and asked me to be involved, and we started MANDA. Our vision for it is to make the highest-performing, edible, organic, sustainable sunblock possible. Something that lasts for four-plus hours and yet is completely derived from non-synthetic, food grade ingredients. Everything in the formula of the eight ingredients you can ingest. The face paste was our first product, and we came out with a couple new products: a body cream and a pawpaw salve that’s kind of an homage to the Aussie pawpaw.
So everything is edible, huh? What’s your favorite flavor?
Yes! Zinc oxide is commonly used in supplements, and all of our ingredients are food grade, organic. I love the combination of chocolate (cacao makes our tint) and a hint of cinnamon. It reminds me of the Mexican hot chocolate my family used to make during the holidays.
What’s the beauty in some of your core natural ingredients?
Thanaka comes from a tree in SE Asia. Because it is regeneratively grown, it lessens our dependency on zinc, which is a mined mineral with the disruption inherent with any mineral extraction. Coined as the "Tree of Life" by ancient Mayans, papaya is the inspiration for our Organic Paw Paw Salve. This nutrient-rich fruit is packed full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants, making it an amazing topical solution that moisturizes, soothes, heals, and repairs the skin.
Tell us about your packaging. It’s plant-based?
Our tube packaging is derived from sugar cane in a facility that is entirely powered by sugar cane. It’s not biodegradable because that would cause it to break down with our organic food grade ingredients, but it’s a start! Also, our products are made locally in a facility that is entirely powered by wind and solar. Our goal is to do the best we can in terms of our footprint. We wanted to make a product that contributed to people’s lifestyles but does not compromise in terms of our values.