Susanne Manasi On What Might Be The Most Ambitious Beauty Brand Yet
Independent beauty brands are definitely having a moment and we’re amazed by new ambitious brands every week. MANASI7, founded in Sweden but ready for global launch, aims to merge wildy harvested and certified organic ingredients with high performance. After 20 years in the makeup industry, and six years developing cosmetic products, founder Susanne Manasi is, to say the least, picky about what she puts on and in her body. Make it last talks to her about how the details make all the difference.
You have a background as a makeup artist and cosmetic makeup developer. Have you always had a sustainable agenda, or did something make you shift perspectives?
– My awareness started with nutrition about 11 years ago when I read a book about unnecessary additives in foods. I used to think I was quite healthy, but once I read that book my journey of self-education about health and nutrition started. This naturally evolved into an interest in learning more about what we actually put on our skin.
Manasi7 aims to merge the performance of conventional beauty with the nourishing properties of natural and organic ingredients—what does this mean?
– We live in a world that demands seasonal change of products and mass-production. The use of synthetic chemicals equals a great deal of negative environmental impact. A lot of the “traditional” beauty brands mass-produce and use conventional synthetic chemicals and ingredients derived from the petroleum industry.
– I wanted to create high quality makeup products that contain organic, natural and wild harvested butters, waxes and oils together with colour pigments and produce them in small batches and in a way that has less environmental impact. We want to work to bridge the gap between the often high performance and great colour pay-off of conventional beauty products and the sustainable, nourishing and healing properties of natural/organic ingredients by understanding the good of both systems and show how they can work together.
– I prefer the precautionary principle than finding out later on in life that conventional ingredients were harmful to humans or nature. I also avoid using the word ”non-toxic” makeup because almost every plant we eat contain small amounts of toxins, since this is how plants defend themselves. In the majority of cases these low levels of toxins don’t harm us, and in fact, they may even provide health benefits. For example, many of the compounds we call antioxidants found in blueberries, cacao, etc. are actually “pro-oxidants” that cause mild oxidative stress and thus up regulate our body’s natural defense system.
The “7” in your brand name refers to a declaration of minimum requirements for your products to go through. Tell us about the Declaration of (7).
– When I first came up with the idea for Manasi7 I had a list of my minimum requirements for the whole production cycle. Soon this evolved to our manifesto, the Declaration of (7). It 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.
– We use slow and small-scaled production methods at a sustainable pace. Our products and shades are 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.
Finding manufacturers meeting these requirements must be hard. Where did you start?
– Actually I started out buying organic, natural and wild harvested butters, waxes and oils from different suppliers. I began experimenting in my own kitchen lab, by melting these together and creating a base formula and then mixing some colour pigments and trying to create my perfect shades. I had a hard time finding manufacturers that could both create beautiful textures and shades as well as live up to our Declaration of 7, but after intense searching I finally found a few.
Your products are natural and organic, but not vegan as they contain beeswax. Does this also have to do with color pigmentation?
– A vegan ingredient can be synthetic or natural and it does not have to be better than an animal derived ingredient if you use ingredients from animals eating the foods they are made to eat from an evolutionary perspective. If you do choose to eat animal foods or derivatives and do not make use of everything on the animal then it will not be as sustainable, and it will create a lot of waste.
– There can be a lot of misconceptions that vegan beauty products are free from synthetic ingredients and are therefore immediately better. This isn’t necessarily always the case. Our main focus is using natural, wild harvested and certified organic ingredients in our products that are made in small batches to ensure premium quality. All synthetic and petrochemical ingredients are vegan and vegan beauty products can include synthetic raw materials, pigments, preservatives, fragrances and formula fillers.
–About half of our products are vegan and the other half we do use beeswax, but we always use the best possible compositions of ingredients for the intended use. Our organic beeswax has anti-inflammatory properties and is included in formulas to help the skin retain moisture. By using organic beeswax for example (which is considered non-vegan) you contribute to a more sustainable bee farming which is important for the whole ecosystem. Beeswax is produced by the incredibly industrious honeybee, not by man. It is a sustainable, eco-friendly product, which is harvested alongside honey.
Multifunctional beauty products do feel like a thing of the future. How have you interpreted this concept into your collection, and what are your best tips for getting the most out of the products?
– Yes, a great deal of my products is multifunctional. You can use the All Over Colors, Bronzelighter and Strobelighter on your lips, cheeks and eyes if you prefer and the Custom Eye and Brow Quad is meant to be used as eyeshadow, eyebrow color and a liner that you apply with a brush. The Custom Blush Duo can be used on both cheeks and eyes and consists of two carefully selected shades that you can mix to create your own perfect shade and the Custom Contour Duo can be used as a matte bronzer or for contouring your features.
– You can use all of the products to build up a subtle natural feeling or all the way to a statement look. For example our All Over Color can be applied with just a little dab on your skin or lips for a natural effect or add more layers to give as much or as little impact as you feel like. Our products are highly concentrated and a little goes a long way.
– Our Skin enhancer is a very concentrated concealer/foundation that I personally use as a concealer as it is for those areas that need more coverage and then I blend it with my facial oil to add glow and create a more sheer finish and use it as a foundation. You can mix the Bronzelighter and Strobelighter into the Skin Enhancer or All Over Colors as well to create a more shimmering effect, but without big pearls.
What does a healthy lifestyle and holistic mindset mean to you, and how does it relate to beauty?
– I believe that every person can find a way that works best for him or her. I have a profound interest and knowledge in what I believe is a healthy lifestyle. I continue to educate myself regarding health and nutrition and I focus on eating organic whole foods from an evolutionary perspective to keep my gut and microbiome healthy. I do not really like to put a label on my lifestyle or nutrition, but I do eat a lot of foods that are Paleo friendly, which means for me the quality of the foods is the most important thing. Unprocessed and organic is a priority. I also like to support small-scale and local farmers and businesses.
– My usual plate consists of 50% plant based greens, 25% grass fed proteins, wild game or wild caught fish/seafood and 25% natural fats such as for example raw coconut oil or grass fed ghee. I avoid processed foods and drinks, sugars, grains, non-grass fed pasteurized dairy products, alcohol and unhealthy vegetable oils. I do yoga, kick-boxing and try to work with my breathing technique and meditation (which affects our gut bacteria positively). I try to sleep 8-9 hours per night, de-stress and be out in the fresh air and sun as much as I can (without sunscreen) so I get my vitamin D.
– I really saw a difference in my skin when I started cutting out grains (I am 100% gluten free) and sugars from my diet and my health improved a great deal, my immune system is much stronger now than 10 years ago. I believe your health starts in the gut. Everything is connected in our bodies. If our gut is unhealthy it affects our whole system and hormones, which are crucial for our bodies to function normally. About 80 percent of our immune system is in the intestines, making it the body’s largest immunological organ.
Would you like to share your beauty routine with us?
– I start my mornings with oil pulling (I use coconut oil). Then I usually drink a glass of organic raw apple cider vinegar with filtered water. I do not use any cleansing products for my skin, instead I leave my skin’s own moisture barrier intact and put on my own organic DIY face/body oil or balm.
– Then I curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler and brush my eyebrows. If i do my natural day makeup, I use the Manasi7 Skin enhancer (on my whole face) in Beechwood and mix it with my face balm to add glow and create less coverage. Then I use the Manasi7 Bronzelighter in Roseate to create a touch of extra glow and bronzy feeling to the skin and add some of the All Over Color in Ikura both on cheeks and lips to get a flush of color.
– I use the same face/body oil or balm to moisturize my body and for deodorant I just mix in some baking soda to my face/body balm and apply under my armpit. I use Kingfisher natural toothpaste without fluoride for brushing my teeth and I apply some organic DIY hair oil into my hair to decrease frizziness.
What are the next steps for Manasi7?
– We launched our collection in store at Content Beauty and Wellbeing in London on 7 April and will launch in MDC Cosmetic in Berlin later in April. We will reveal our selected retailers in the US in may. I believe in quality over quantity and hope that people notice the high quality of our products. I have a lot of ideas for the future, maybe I will decide to add a new category to the brand, who knows?
Visit and shop MANASI7 here.
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