With an all-natural calling card, these bath and body products promise blemish free skin and a salon finish
Fresh goat’s milk from farms, and aloe vera and roses from the garden—these are just a few of the things that go into handmade soaps and shampoos today. While luxe skincare brands like Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda have their loyal clientele and wildcrafted ingredients, the demand for ‘kitchen entrepreneurs’ is stronger than ever. Old favourites like Skinsense and newbies like Soapworks, showcase their latest.
A career in retail didn’t leave Mehar Farhana much time for her family. “I also had skin irritations which commercial soaps aggravated,” says the 36-year-old. Having learnt soap making at LTC Chem & Herbs in Mumbai, she set out on a new career path by making a shea butter and saffron soap early last year, which her family loved. Then, when a friend’s daughter wanted something for her acne, she made a soap with the essences of neem and tea tree. Soon word-of-mouth got her more requests and, in August last year, she started Amara Organix. “I make soaps, scrubs, acne gels and face washes that use natural ingredients like organic sunflower oil, essential oils and dehydrated fruit enzymes,” she says. The most popular are her lavender-sugar body scrub and Vitamin-E and bergamot face wash. Rs 150 onwards. Details: facebook.com/amaraorganix
Rashmi Prithviraj’s brand, Skinsense, is popular in the city. A venture she started a decade ago, the certified yoga teacher says she got started when her skin didn’t take kindly to a move from Delhi to Chennai. So she turned to her grandma’s recipes and Ayurvedic texts. “Today I’m an artisanal producer of soaps, face and body butters, lip balms, dusting powders, face cleansers and scrubs,” she says. Using all-natural ingredients, organic if she can get it, Prithviraj has also introduced two new products—a balancing serum and a foot care kit. “The serum has jojoba oil (balances skin’s pH) and evening primrose oil (for elasticity and skin renewal), and my clients say it leaves their skin ‘happy’. The foot care kit comes with a foot soak (Epsom salts and herbs) and massage oil, a blend of apricot kernel oil and essential oils of tea tree and peppermint that leaves your feet soft and relieves tiredness,” she says. Serum is Rs 300 for 15 ml. Details: facebook.com/Skinsense-Natural-Luxury
Devi Janardhanan had never used soap on her face. But in 2013, when she heard about the handmade alternative, she loved the idea. “I did extensive research online and, through trial-and-error, made oil-based soaps (coconut, castor, gingelly) with vetiver, sandal, aloe vera and turmeric from my garden,” says the Coimbatore-based entrepreneur, who infuses oils with herbs to get colours, like ratanjot for pinks (she doesn’t believe in using even food-grade colours). Retailing under Auraa, she’s added body butters, a scrub/mask—with clay, walnut and rose powder, raw sugar and almond oil—and a coconut-milk based shampoo to her list since. “Recently, I made a healing balm, with neem, aloe vera and turmeric, which is great for acne and rashes,” says the 42-year-old, adding that she is perfecting a hydrating serum, with jojoba, lavender and carrot seed essential oils. Rs 100 onwards. Details: facebook.com/Auraahandmadesoaps
Did you know that many of the ingredients used in cosmetic products are also used in petrochemical manufacturing? When Pritesh Asher, a Coimbatore-based manufacturer realised that, he teamed up with his wife Megha to launch Juicy Chemistry last year. The 100 per cent natural, handcrafted skincare line—which started out with soaps and scrubs—is constantly innovating. Their latest additions are their facial toner tea bags and their day serum. “The tea bags are made with white tea and a blend of herbs and flowers—like hibiscus, rose, sandalwood, moringa seeds and jasmine. You brew the tea, store it in the fridge and use it as a face or hair mist (15 bags, with a spritzer bottle, for Rs 600),” says Megha. The serum uses pure argon oil along with carrot seed and red raspberry seed oils, to provide natural SPF (20+). It also has saffron-infused almond oil and jasmine essential oil to target blemishes and promote cell repair (Rs 1,150 for 40 ml). Juicy Chemistry will be in town on September 22-23 at Meena Bazaar, Rani Meyammai Hall. Details: 09655663566
Fresh out of college, Kalaiarasi Loganathan had met with an accident that left her with a big bald patch. When none of the store-bought oils helped, the 26-year-old put her two masters degrees to good use (biotechnology and environmental science) and created a herbal oil. When it showed results, her friends wanted in, too. Thus began K-Organics’ journey in 2013. The brand currently has organic skincare, haircare and even food products. While her tomato lip balm and honey rose body scrub are popular, her recent addition is a goat’s milk soap. “It is made with organic goat’s milk, almonds, saffron and olive oil (she also uses almond and castor oil to suit climatic conditions). It takes about a month to solidify since I don’t use any chemicals,” she says. She customises her products according to skin type, too. From Rs 60. Details: facebook.com/K-Organics
A few years ago, a bad case of hair fall had made Naina Chandani start mixing herbs and oils, looking for a natural solution. When her concoction won her hair praise, she decided to bottle it. Today, word of mouth has got her a steady clientèle. “I make hair oils, hair masks and face packs. All my ingredients are either sourced locally or from organic farms in places like Trichy and Madurai,” says Chandani, who heads customer relations for a travel firm. “I use pure coconut oil and infuse amla, curry leaves and a few signatures (seven in all), for the oil. I also customise, like adding citrus essential oil for an oily scalp,” adds the 44-year-old. Try her hair masks (like hibiscus to prevent hair fall) and face masks (with orange peel, rose petals and more). Rs 700 for 250 ml of oil.
A banker with an MBA is not someone you’d expect to be working in the kitchen, making soaps. But Harini Sivakumar wasn’t happy with the natural soaps she found in the market (“many used artificial colours and fragrances”). After trawling YouTube and libraries, she started crafting her own—with organic ingredients sourced locally and abroad (Australia and America). Just six months old, Soapworks is already getting fans, especially for its milk and glycerine-based soaps that use powdered roots and herbs—from red sandalwood and safflower to spirulina. The entrepreneur, who recently moved to Delhi, says she is currently working on beer soaps that will soothe irritated skin and help prevent acne. From Rs 120. Details: facebook.com/soapworkshandmadenatural
Surya Praphulla Kumar & Ranjitha G