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Mara Is Launching an Oil-based Sunscreen

“Making SPF is not for the faint of heart."

After two decades of wanting an oil-based sunscreen, Mara founder Allison McNamara decided to make one herself. 

Allison McNamara
Allison McNamara Photo courtesy of Mara Beauty

Growing up, sun protection was always essential for McNamara, but formulations were generally oil-free. For McNamara, who is a glowy skin fanatic, those SPFs were not providing the dewy look she desired. When she first started developing her clean, algae-infused brand, she knew she wanted to make something different.

Mara’s Algae + Zinc Sea Kale Sunscreen Serum, launching July 6, employs 13.22 percent non-nano zinc oxide, a lower concentration in comparison to other SPF products and implements the brand’s proprietary algae blend, as well as maritime botanicals that are meant to calm the skin and protect against photoaging and blue light. The serum, SPF 30, also contains an array of oils, including hemp, avocado, moringa and raspberry, which is meant to provide natural UV protection. The product is meant to work on a variety of skin tones and types and sink in like a typical face oil without leaving a leave white or purple residue. 

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McNamara’s original goal with the product was to essentially launch a version of their bestseller Universal Face Oil with UVA and UVB protection included. However, the development of SPF-based products was more involved than McNamara had planned for — she has been thinking through the product since 2017, before the brand launched. 

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“Making SPF is not for the faint of heart,” McNamara said. “I definitely see something for the body, for the lip area, and maybe at one point even a tinted formulation in our future, but I’m really excited about delivering a body sunscreen at some point.”

The sunscreen serum retails for $52 and will be available on, as well as several online retailers, including Credo, Revolve and Cult Beauty. It is expected to do $1.2 million in sales its first year, according to industry sources.

Mara’s sunscreen is the first 100 percent oil-based SPF product to hit the market, according to the brand. Oil-based sunscreens are not common, though indie beauty brand Kari Gran also makes one.

McNamara said she believes these types of products will continue to grow in popularity, and that the Sunscreen Serum fits in well with her product line, which is almost entirely oil based, aside from the Volcanic Sea Clay Detox Masque. 

“Mara formulas take about four to five years on average to formulate because they’re completely custom formulas that are built from scratch,” McNamara said. “We go through a rigorous R&D process to make sure all of the ingredients have amazing synergy and are truly active and beneficial for the skin.”

McNamara, a former beauty and style journalist, founded Mara in 2018 using nutrients and active ingredients from the ocean including the brand’s proprietary algae blend. The brand has been promoted by celebrities including Chrissy Teigen, Olivia Munn and Hailey Bieber. 

Mara’s ingredients are sustainably harvested from the ocean using tactics similar to wildcrafting. The brand offers repeat customers the option to recycle their empty containers for a 10 percent discount. When making a purchase, customers may also opt for carbon neutral shipping at an additional cost. 


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