MANDA Organic Sun Paste Is the Most Unusual Sunscreen I've Ever Tried

A hand holding up Manda organic sun paste outside.

Courtesy of Manda

A true 'physical' sunblock, this paste is meant to be seen on your skin, which means there's no guesswork involved as to whether or not you're protected from the sun.

MANDA Organic Sun Paste is the most unusual sunscreen I’ve ever encountered. When a sample arrived in the mail earlier this summer, I wasn’t sure what to make of the cute wooden tub with its beige paste that smelled faintly of cinnamon and chocolate. I wondered how could something so edible-looking could possibly provide adequate sun protection.

It turns out, it does. Created by surfers who were both tired of having to reapply sunscreen constantly throughout the day and deeply concerned about the environmental effects of conventional sunscreens washing off into the oceans in alarming quantities, MANDA Organic Sun Paste (SPF 50) was designed to be totally safe and long-lasting, through hours of wind, water, and sweat. After several weeks of using it on my own pale redheaded skin and that of my small children, I, too, can vouch for its efficacy.

MANDA Organic Sun Paste application
he sun paste goes on thickly, providing an important physical barrier for the skin.

Courtesy of Manda

The paste is made with all-natural, food-grade ingredients, such as coconut oil, shea and cocoa butters, cinnamon oil, cocoa powder, beeswax, and non-nano zinc oxide. Its main ingredient, however, is a fascinating traditional ingredient called thanaka that comes from Burma.

Thanaka is the pulverized wood of a small tree and has been used for the past 2,000 years to protect and adorn the faces of Burmese people. There are a number of reasons why it’s a valuable addition to this sun paste. First, it creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Second, it’s regenerative and sustainably harvested from the forest, which is a less disruptive process than mining for the minerals found in conventional sunscreens. Finally, it is great for your skin:

“Thanaka contains two active compounds, coumarin and marmesin, which account for anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-acne, and anti-aging properties. In other words, thanaka is responsible for effectively removing dead skin cells and controlling excessive facial oil. Studies have also revealed that thanaka inhibits tryosinase, the enzyme that triggers melanin synthesis and affects skin discoloration. Therefore, the regular use of thanaka can help decrease melanomas activity ....”

MANDA Organic Sun Paste pushes the boundaries in terms of what a true natural sunscreen should be and challenges outright the notion that sunscreen should disappear into one’s skin. The company announces, loudly and proudly, that it is a physical sunscreen that’s meant to be seen, which goes against all other sunscreen manufacturers’ attempts to make their formulations as invisible as possible.

Manda Sun Paste applied like a cat nose and whiskers on a blonde girl.
This product is meant to be seen on the skin.

Courtesy of Manda

“There is no guesswork involved, unlike chemical sunscreens which rub into your skin, leaving no visual indicator as to what areas of your body are protected or need re-application. If you can see MANDA Organic Sun Paste on your body, then you know it is protecting your skin.”

MANDA suggests using it to decorate children (to make the sun protection process more fun) and to prioritize coverage of specific places on the body, i.e. shoulders, nose, forehead, sensitive areas, etc. rather than slathering it all over. This selective approach works for me, as someone who prefers to use hats, clothing, and shade together with smaller amounts of sunscreen to keep myself protected.

MANDA Organic Sun Paste comes in 15g and 50g plastic-free tubs, which cost $18 and $28 respectively, and is available to order online.