Get Gutsy With: Tandia Walsh, The Mother Of Natural Sunscreen

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Rosie Van Der Meer

SPF is a non-negotiable in our skincare routine (and it should be for yours too!). However, even with the incredible advancements that have been made in clean beauty, it can still be tricky to find a natural sunscreen that feels lovely on the skin.

Many of The Beauty Chef team have been fans and users of MOTHER SPF, so we were very excited to sit down with Tandia Wash the female-founder of this Australian-made suncare brand.

Can you share with us the story behind Mother, what inspired you to start the company? 

Growing up on the coast of Western Australia, I inherited a passion for preserving the ocean from my parents, who built a pearl farm outside of Broome. Summers spent fishing, crabbing, and camping led to a natural progression to study a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Marine Biology.

In 2016, my mum, who previously had Melanoma, was diagnosed with another bout of cancer.

The news evoked a heightened urgency for organic food and natural skincare products. I took it upon myself to ensure my mum eliminated anything containing endocrine or carcinogenic disrupting properties that could harm her newly sensitive skin or interfere with her medications. It was then, while trying to find safe and effective skincare, that I discovered how many SPF brands contained questionable ingredients that are not only harmful to the body, but also to the environment. 

Using my scientific background, I began working towards creating a natural yet effective SPF that nourished the skin and had minimal impact on mother nature.

After four years of research, MOTHER SPF was launched in late 2019.

How does Mother SPF differ from other sunscreens on the market?

Simply by what we leave out. We not only formulate to protect your skin from UV rays, but we also formulate to protect and nourish the skin microbiome. As a result we don’t use any chemical sunscreen actives, silicones, parabens, synthetic preservatives, emulsifiers or synthetic fragrances.

What do you wish more people knew about sunscreen? 

That in Australia sunscreen is classified as a listed medicine and is regulated by the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA's sunscreen regulations are among the strictest in the world and for good reason with our harsh Australian climate!

It’s super important to make sure you're using a sunscreen that is regulated by the TGA and is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutics Goods (ARTG). In order to list with the ARTG, the formulation must pass extensive SPF testing to the Australian climate, be manufactured in aa approved facility that's certified to make medicine and the formulation can only use approved ingredients of the highest grade possible.

There are certain “loopholes” that brands can take to sell a SPF in Australia. To make sure you are using the best sun protection possible you can easily check if the product is listed on the ARTG. Just search in google “ARTG” and the search bar on the ARTG website will allow you to search the product name. If nothing pops up this product is not regulated by the TGA and should not be used as your primary sun protection.

What are important principles of your business?

Scientifically validated suncare products with extensive studies showing our formulations offer the highest sun protection standards.

Using only 100% naturally derived ingredients that have long term safety data, do no harm to the human body and are proven to work with the physiology of our skin.

To house our formulations in the most sustainable packaging options possible and for all ingredients to be sourced sustainably with minimal impact to MOTHER nature. MOTHER SPF is already certified carbon neutral and currently working towards becoming certified carbon positive.

Could you share your top tips for switching to clean beauty?

Start by simply replacing your empties with a cleaner alternative. I would pay extra focus to the products you use daily - SPF, toothpaste, deodorant etc.

I think it’s also important to know WHY you are switching. If you do a quick google search of the types of chemicals lurking in our everyday personal care items… you will be sure to switch to cleaner alternatives pretty quickly and have no inkling to switch back! 

What is your favourite Beauty Chef product?

It used to always be GLOW® but now I have fallen hard for HYDRATION. I am coconut obsessed so I like the subtle coconut flavour I can taste in hydration. I also swim in the ocean daily, get lots of vitamin D and exercise a lot so I need all the extra hydration I can get inside and out.

When do you feel like your most glowing self? How do you find your glow?

First thing in the AM - when I have finished my run and have just dived into the ocean. The ocean is where I am most present and feel myself. The sweaty run, release of endorphins and the ocean salt helps with the physical glow too.