Swedish clean beauty brand, Manasi7, is leading the way when it comes to non-toxic, cruelty free and sustainable beauty. Founder, Susanne Manasi, shares her wisdom behind the brand’s unique manifesto, the wonders of slow beauty and the challenge to create the perfect non-toxic mascara!
What is the story behind your brand name, Manasi7?
I was born in India and adopted by my Swedish parents when I was 10 months old. Manasi is my Indian name and the number 7 stands for our Declaration of 7. To achieve the highest quality possible, we have created a manifesto to set the minimum requirements for the whole production cycle when creating a product or working with the Manasi7 brand. This is called the Declaration of (7).
What is the ’Declaration of 7’?
I believe that our Declaration of 7 is one the things that really differentiates us from other beauty brands. The Declaration of (7) is the foundation of our values, our vision, our responsibilities and our core building blocks. It includes our criteria for uncompromising quality and is based on my profound experience and knowledge as a makeup artist.
When I first came up with the idea for Manasi7, I had a list of the minimum requirements for the whole production when creating a product or working with the Manasi7 brand. Soon this evolved to our manifesto, the Declaration of (7). This works as a kind of certification for the Manasi7 brand so that our customers always know the quality they get when purchasing a product from us. All of our suppliers and sub-contractors need to follow the Declaration of (7) accordingly.
- Slow - Small-scale production at a sustainable pace to minimise water consumption, environmental impact and waste. Nurturing and promoting a dynamic relationship between cosmetics manufacturing and organic farming.
- Select - Curated compositions of ingredients and shades that deliver an immaculate sensory feeling, high colour pay-off and desired effect. Our products are developed in Stockholm and made sustainably in small batches to ensure premium quality.
- Pure – We offer beauty products with ingredients that are grown ethically, sustainably and in harmony with the environment.
- Natural - Raw materials and natural preservatives extracted from minerals, wild plants and flowers, carefully selected for their quality, colour and scent. Minimally processed, a high level of purity facilitates the preservation of natural moisturising and nourishing properties.
- Simple - A conscious collection of essential multifunctional beauty products for an effortless everyday makeup routine. Designed to be used individually or mixed to create endless possibilities.
- Symbiotic - Merging the high performance and colour pay-off of conventional beauty products with the nourishing and healing properties of natural, wild harvested and certified organic ingredients. Carefully selected biodegradable formulas organically decomposed back into earth.
- Contemporary - Inspired by nature and personal expression creating a timeless selection of shades, finishes and textures to promote the pleasures of organic beauty. Soft earthy tones combined with a flush of modern hues for the desired impact.
What are the ‘hero’ ingredients that Manasi7 uses and why are they important?
We use certified organic, natural and wild harvested ingredients as our ”hero ingredients”. They are Apricot Kernel Oil, Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Beeswax, Castor Seed Oil, Candelilla Wax and Carnauba Wax. They form the base to many of our products, as well as provide nourishing and moisturising benefits for the skin and body.
Manasi7 products, such as the All Over Colour cheek and lip tints, have multifunctional use. What advice do you have for getting the best out of them?
Since all of the products are highly concentrated and give great colour pay-off, you only need a small amount of product to be able to achieve a good result. The formulas can be dabbed for a subtle result or layered for a stronger appearance - and since the cream-based products are a base of lightweight oils, butters and waxes they do not appear ”greasy” on the skin. The products are, therefore, quite stable in the heat and stay on the skin well.
They can be used alone or mixed to create your own personal shades. I would encourage people to have no limits - you should just embrace yourself and mix and match the collection to what suits your tastes.
The Manasi7 Precision Mascara does away with all the nasty toxic chemical preservatives included in most conventional mascaras. How difficult was it to develop a mascara that doesn't smudge, builds colour and has that oomph that people are looking for?
The mascara was my biggest challenge. My main goal was to create a mascara that would give an amazing pay-off and a really deep intense black shade. For me, I wanted a creamy mascara that you didn’t need to re-apply multiple layers of to achieve a great result.
Usually, the conventional mascaras, and some natural mascaras, use silicones to get that smoothness and smudge-proof texture. Since silicones are ingredients I exclude in my collection, it was tricky to develop a texture that still could perform as well. But finally, I got it right and the result is the Precision Mascara in Obsidian. Though not 100% smudge proof/water proof (not possible without silicones), it has an intense colour pay-off and a wonderful creamy texture.
Why is the production process for Manasi7 so unique?
We use slow and small-scaled production methods at a sustainable pace. Our products and shades are a curated composition of ingredients that are grown ethically, sustainably and in harmony with the environment. Our raw materials and natural preservatives are extracted from minerals, wild plants and flowers that work together, and balance each other, to create the great colours and performance of conventional beauty. We offer soft earthy tones combined with a flush of modern hues. We work with small-scale subcontractors and we encourage organic farming by using certified organic ingredients.
The packaging of Manasi7 products is very beautiful and has been designed with re-use in mind. How did you go about achieving this balance?
I wanted to focus on both sustainability and design, but combining these two can be a challenge! To begin with, since we produce everything in small batches, and we use high quality ingredients, our products last for a while, which means less waste.
Reusing the packaging also results in less waste. Once you have finished using our products we encourage you to clean the jars and reuse them, filling them with anything you want. They are the perfect size to carry in your handbag or for travelling.
Design-wise, Olof, our Art Director (and my partner in life), and I wanted to have a different approach than the existing beauty brands in the market. We felt that we wanted something that reflected both the ingredients in our products, as well as our manifesto. Our expression is simple, clean and with great attention to detail.
Clean and cruelty-free beauty is on the rise globally, and in particular Sweden, where so many independent beauty brands have launched. Why do you think this is?
I think people are more aware today. It usually starts with how they live and what they eat and then it moves on to what they use in their daily cosmetics routine. People want to use better ingredients with nourishing properties that are beneficial to the skin and body in general. I also think this is the only way going forward - mass-production needs to slow down.
What kick-started your own personal interest in this area?
I read a book by a Swedish author, Mats-Eric Nilsson, about the food industry and additives in the food we eat. That made me think about what I put on my own skin, and what I was using in my line of work as a makeup artist.
For some time there has been the misperception that clean beauty products do not perform as well as conventional products. How has this changed?
I think that the industry is changing. Today there are far more innovative manufacturers who understand our desire to create better and better textures without the synthetic raw materials. They do more trials and testing, together with those of us who have the ideas and knowledge, and are generally more open to suggestions than ever before. I believe that natural and organic products can actually be better than conventional products.
What advice would you give to someone who is on the fence about switching to clean beauty? Any tips on where to start?
I would suggest starting with something you use on your lips, since that goes into your mouth (although we absorb from the skin as well), and then move onto glow products and mascara. If you are used to foundations with silicones, it will take a while to get used to the less ”silky feeling” of the natural and organic ones that usually do not contain silicones.
Interview by Alysha Farry for Biddy + May Clean Beauty Blog
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