MÁDARA is amongst the first brands reviewed on my half-a-decade-old blog. I credit Mádara’s longevity to their outstanding quality and ability to grow at their own rate.
Despite its rising popularity, Mádara still maintains a sense of mystery. They march to the beat of their own drum, they do not rely on relentless magazine features and yet the growing number of retailers and shops stocking this Latvian brand speaks for its success. On my last trip to London, I had the pleasant surprise to find them in the beauty aisle of Whole Foods. As a testament of my love for this brand, I have tried at least 2/3rds of their entire range in the past 5 years – just call me Madame Mádara 😉
Mádara’s formulas incorporate their signature organic repair and protective complex using active Northern ingredients and other botanical extracts, which are Ecocert and Cosmos natural certified. They manage to continuously impress me for they deliver performance-wise. Does that mean that everything I used has worked for me? No. Some products showed better results than others but overall my experience with Mádara has been excellent. Other skincare brands whose lines I have tried extensively are SkinOwl and Josh Rosebrook, both very dear to me as well.
Reviewed on the blog are:
The Miracle Day advanced anti-aging face cream
The anti-fatigue rescue eye cream
I have tried many more products, it’s just that it did not necessarily end up in a blog review, in addition to a couple of Instagram posts. Today, I wanted to focus on their sun care products since they recently came out with a rather extensive range. A heads up on the color scheme used for the ingredients, common ingredients share the same colors and the unique ingredients are put in black, bold and underlined. The CC and the tinted sunscreen share a similar formula so let’s start with them.
City CC Hyaluronic anti-pollution CC cream SPF15
It has been one of my holy-grails for over a year now. I wish it came in a bigger tube. It’s silky smooth, blends like a dream and doesn’t feel heavy or cakey. You can skip foundation, the coverage is a solid medium. The finish is dewy which is a personal preference. To mattify, just apply a little setting powder on top. Aside from its great coverage, I am amazed by its plumping/toning properties. My skin instantly looks better every time I wear it. I was even told that it looked like porcelain doll skin.
Performance-wise, the CC cream definitely acts as a lightweight shield from urban pollution. After a full day out in the city, the state of my skin remains impeccable, no signs of stress or tension. The coverage fades after 5-6 hours so if I need to hide big spots, I keep a little concealer in hand for touch-ups. I wish they expanded the shade range though. In foundations, I am usually a “medium”, “light/medium with neutral undertones”. Therefore, City CC’s “medium beige” is a good match for me but I can’t imagine that this is dark enough for deeper skin tones.
Let’s now have a look at the formula a little closer: ingredients specific to the City CC cream are seabuckthorn and St. John’s wort extracts. These two plants have been tested in vitro and have shown amazing benefits. Seabuckthorn is actually reported to have close to 200 properties.1
Seabuckthorn contains flavonoids and essential fatty acids. Rich in linolic acid, it regulates sebum production and is an excellent oil for acne prone skin. Rich in omega 3, 6 and 7 and 9 to support skin regeneration and repair, seabuckthorn can strengthen the lipid barrier, lower transepidermal water loss and boost the skin hydration level. Seabuckthorn improves skin oxygenation, blood circulation and might remove excess toxins from the body. It also easily penetrates into the epidermis and slows down inflammation.
St. John Wort exhibit strong anti-inflammatory effects and has been used in the treatment of psoriasis2. It is considered safe and efficacious therapy for skin and soft tissue infections3. In addition to these two powerhouses, we have oak bark extract, vitamin c, aloe vera juice, and grape seed oil, all of them being suitable for all skin types. Although Hyaluronic acid appears on the tube right below the name of the product, it is not one of the main components of the formula, appearing right at the bottom of the INCI’s list.
Mádara took their time to perfect this formula and it shows. I just wish it was more than SPF15! SPF30 would have been perfect. I always have to carry my Ilia Beauty translucent SPF30 powder with me for touch-ups throughout the day on days I wear makeup because I can’t reapply tinted cream over it. Other than that, I am pleased as punch with this product.
Price: 27 EUR for 40mL.
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, CI 77499, Isoamyl Laurate, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Glycerin, Sorbitan Olivate, Beeswax, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Silica, Aqua, Cellulose, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Extract, Hypericum Perforatum (St. John’s Wort) Extract, Quercus Robur (Oak) Bark Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Sodium Chloride, Sorbitan Caprylate, Palmitic acid, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Iron oxide CI77492, CI 77491, Sodium Phytate, Tocopherol, Vanillin, Potassium Hydroxide
The plant stem cell age-defying sunscreen SPF30
Just like the CC cream, I am head over heels in love with this sunscreen. The texture and consistency feel the same as the CC. Very lightweight and comfortable to wear. The tint, however, is significantly darker. As you can see in the pic above, one side of my face looks darker than the other. If not properly blended, I can get the demarcation line on my neck, but since it blends seamlessly, it is very rarely the case. Specific to the face sunscreen are dragonhead cell culture extract and raspberry seed oil (n.B, since the release of the CC and the face sunscreen, the raspberry seed oil is also included in the sun milk and shimmering bb balm. The CC does not contain it though.)
Dragonhead cell stem cell was new to me so I did some research and this plant holds some great properties to support healthy skin. Tests were conducted and some reports show that the Moldavian Dragonhead been used in folk medicine to treat stomach and liver disorders, headaches, congestions, heart disorders, and hypertension. Rich in components such as hydroxycinnamic acids and flavonoids, including “caffeic acid, ferulic acid, rosmarinic acid, luteolin, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, and apigenin”(4), this plant has a high level of antioxidants and antibacterial property. No wonder my skin feels amazing whenever I use it.
Raspberry seed oil is an old favorite of mine. It is anti-inflammatory and used for skin cell regeneration. High in linoleic acid, It helps reduce clogged pores and due to its vitamin E and A content, reduces free radicals that cause premature aging and heal UV damages. Finally, red raspberry seed additionally offers added sun protection (it does not replace mineral sunscreen though). Benzyl salicylate is also unique to the sunscreen, it appears at the very bottom of the list, commonly used as a fragrance ingredient or/and as an ultraviolet light absorber in cosmetics. On EWG, it is stated as an ingredient associated with allergies (they rated it a 7). I decided to check out more sources and found several studies including this one(5) referring to it as a low allergen (for Japanese skin, it is a moderate allergen). In fact, if present in a cosmetic product at over 100 ppm (0.01%) in a wash-off product or 10 ppm (0.001%) in a leave-on product. the material must be declared on the ingredient list if sold in an EU member state. The IFRA standard for benzyl salicylate in leave-on products is 8.0%, for skin sensitization. Since it appears at the very bottom of the list, the quantity in Mádara’s sunscreen is presumably significantly lower and I did not experience any issues.
To touch back on the tint situation mentioned earlier, I was quite disconcerted to see that the sunscreen is actually darker than the Medium Beige of the CC cream. It is nowhere mentioned on their website, in fact, it says “shade: invisible” on the tube, which only adds more to the confusion. Nevertheless, this remains so far, one of the best tinted sunscreens I have tried in terms of performance, texture, and comfort. I love it as much as I love De Mamiel’s and Josh Rosebrook’s.
Price: 29 EUR for 40mL
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Zinc Oxide, Isoamyl Laurate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Sorbitan Olivate, Beeswax, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Silica, Cellulose, Dracocephalum Ruyschiana (Dragonhead) Cell Culture Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Quercus Robur (Oak) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Chloride, Aroma, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil, Sorbitan Caprylate, CI 77492 (Iron oxide), Palmitic acid, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, CI 77499, CI 77491, Aqua, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Sodium Phytate, Tocopherol, Potassium Hydroxide, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Citral, Linalool, Eugenol.
The Beach BB shimmering sunscreen SPF15 (body and hands)
I am guilty of not systematically applying SPF on my hands. The BB shimmering sunscreen seemed like a great opportunity to start making it a habit. Consistency is creamy but not dense, a smooth application with quick absorption. As expected, it gives a soft shimmery and subtle radiant finish. Initially recommended for body and hands, I did apply it on my face (I know, I am living on the edge lol, and I must say that I quite liked the effect). Up close you can spot tiny shimmer particles but nothing too dramatic. I believe that it could potentially be used on the face (albeit not on a daily basis as it feels richer) to create a sheen or even as a cream highlighter if it matches your skin. I do like it on the neck, decolletage, and arms, hands for a subtle glow. The BB has the most noticeable scent out of them all, but for a hand/body product, that is fine. The formula contains Madara’s signature ingredients such as aloe vera, red raspberry, zinc, vitamin c, beeswax, silica so it does a great job at protecting the skin. The only difference is that this one is shimmery.
Is it essential? I would not say so, but it is a good product and it does the job. People who love to take nail shots and show off their hands will also make great use of it because the shimmering effect looks lovely in pictures.
Price: 21.95 EUR
Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Dicaprylyl Carbonate , isoamyl Laurate ,Zinc Oxide ,Glycerin ,Sorbitan Olivate, Mica ( CI 77019 ) , Cera Alba , Lecithin , Polyglyceryl-2 Dipolyhydroxystearate , Silica , Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) , Aroma , Sodium Chloride , Sorbitan Caprylate , Cellulose , Palmitic acid , Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil , Stearic Acid , CI 77491 (Iron oxide) , CI 77492 (Iron oxide) , Propanediol , Benzoic Acid , Aqua , Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C) , Sodium phytate , Tocopherol , Tin Oxide , Potassium Hydroxide , CI 77499 (Iron Oxide) , Geraniol
Out of all of them, the sun milk is the one whose formula is noticeably different. It does not share as many ingredients as the rest. This one is not tinted, but white, with a silky texture. Upon application, it feels soft and comfortable on…but alas there’s a white cast. Eventually, the white cast diminishes but only after rigorous and prolonged massaging and I am sorry to say that nobody ain’t got time for that. If you’re at the beach or about to head out, you want to slather the cream and move on. Unless you want to channel the surfer look 😉 On Mádara’s website, they describe it as translucent. I am sorry, but it’s not. Weightless yes, invisible no.
Does it do a great job? Yes. It feels protective and holds back sunburns and the white cast is not as dramatic as the situation I encountered with Avril (here’s the link on Instagram), but still. You can see in the pictures on how it looks and if it is alright with you. I now use it strictly for my body because although it is not clogging, I just can’t fare with the pale look it gives me and it is not as pleasant as the face sunscreen and CC cream. I can’t even consider it as an outdoor/sport’s sunscreen because usually, they offer a higher SPF. SPF30 or even 50 would have been more judicious as you don’t want to reapply countless times a body product. I genuinely wonder about the target customers Mádara wanted to reach out with this product. I remain slightly confused over it and I’d personally not repurchase it.
I think Mádara’s foray into sun protection is overall pretty successful. Of course, there’s always room for improvement (especially regarding the shades) but their CC and face sunscreens are on my skincare hall of fame. They perform amazingly well and I have been purchasing them repeatedly since last year as I use them to the very last drop. I was less impressed by the sun milk and the shimmering balm but I applaud Mádara for coming up with innovative products. Now…what if I told you now that I also got my hands on their new hair care products.
Looks like I am mad for Mádara after all.
I hope you found this helpful, let me know if you’ve tried the Mádara sun range or if you have any questions.
- Zielińska, Aleksandra, and Izabela Nowak. “Abundance of active ingredients in sea-buckthorn oil.” Lipids in health and disease vol. 16,1 95. 19 May. 2017, doi:10.1186/s12944-017-0469-7
- Mansouri, P et al. “The impact of topical Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) treatment on tissue tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in plaque-type psoriasis: A pilot study.” Journal of postgraduate medicine vol. 63,4 (2017): 215-220. doi:10.4103/0022-3859.201423
- Lyles, James T et al. “The Chemical and Antibacterial Evaluation of St. John’s Wort Oil Macerates Used in Kosovar Traditional Medicine.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 8 1639. 8 Sep. 2017, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.0163
- Wójtowicz, Agnieszka et al. “Application of Moldavian dragonhead (Dracocephalum moldavica L.) leaves addition as a functional component of nutritionally valuable corn snacks.” Journal of food science and technology vol. 54,10 (2017): 3218-3229. doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2765-7
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Hi Liz, awesome breakdown on Madara sunscreen. The brand Madara brings so much nostalgia to me, it was stocked in one of e-retailer in Australia and I managed to try their cleanser, toner and moisturizer. I still can remember the scent of their products, very subtle with vivid green notes.. it does make me feel like I am in the Northern Europe 🙂 I especially remember the cleanser, it was the first natural self-foaming cleanser that I tried, soooo gentle. Anywho, off the topic!!
I like that Madara offers a range of natural sunscreen for different needs. Unfortunately, their CC cream in their darkest color was too light for me, so I wish they do better in color representation. I would be interested in trying our their sun milk in SPF 20 and then putting an additional light foundation over the top. However, I have actually never tried this. Have you ever tried putting a sunscreen that leaves a stark white cast and ‘cover it up’ with a foundation on top? Do you think it may solve the problem?
Hi Asti! Thank you so much and my apologies for not seeing your comment sooner! I am delighted that you also had such a pleasant experience with Madara and you’re absolutely right, their products really bring a taste of Northern skincare into our beauty cabinet. I agree the CC would be a phenomenal product if they offered a wider range of colors, I am hoping that they add more in the future but truthfully, brands should sort out the shade range from the start. Regarding the sun milk, I did try to cover it up (testing with cream and powder foundations) unfortunately, it felt too heavy on my oily skin. That is just my personal opinion and as each skin is different, it may not be the case for everyone. But this is an excellent tip and normally this can solve the problem for certain sunscreens. xo
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