Strawberry soaps, peppermint foot scrubs, honey and turmeric face wash... A lot of people today want their bath products handmade and organic. While international brands are going that extra mile to cater to this crowd, there are a few desi start-ups in the country that are doing their bit for the segment. Anusha Parthasarathy lists a few of them here

Rustic Art

Started in 2011 by Sunita Jaju and her niece Swati Maheshwari, Rustic Art boasts of a range of personal care and laundry products. “Our bathing products are made of certified organic ingredients. They are free of artificial fragrances, preservatives, and harsh chemicals found in most skin products,” says Swati. “Each soap contains essential oils that carry healing properties — geranium uplifts the mood, neem heals the skin, aloe vera is great for the complexion, and tea tree and rosemary are good for treating skin problems, blemishes etc.”

She feels that people prefer handcrafted products today because they understand that natural alternatives are available and are a way to keep chemicals at bay. “Even for babies, parents now buy naturally-made personal care products,” she adds.

Based out of Maharashtra, Rustic Art’s products are delivered across the country. “We’ve been getting great feedback so far. Our bio laundry range is bio-degradable — the drained water can be used for watering plants. Our organic soaps are bio-degradable too. Our products are handmade and hand-blended.”

Visit Rustic Art at www.rusticart.in

Gia Handmade Bath And Beauty Products

Gayatri Acharya began making handmade soaps at a time they were unheard of; she has been doing it for seven years now. “My family and friends liked the soaps because they knew what was in it. I made cold-press soaps, which was how soaps were traditionally made. But the problem with that method was that it would take five weeks to get them ready. Now readymade bases are available, and I use the melt-and-pour method,” she says.

This Mumbai-based entrepreneur now makes fragrance-based soaps as well. “Everyone makes herbal soaps, so people are looking for something new. They now want their favourite fragrances in their soap. These designer soaps are embedded with the essence of their fragrance and then cut. Sometimes, people even buy several kilos of soap to cut and use.”

Her strawberry, vanilla, green apple and cucumber melon soaps are said to be popular with her customers. “Commercial soaps make the skin dry, and international chains that sell natural soaps have made people more aware of what they want. Our soaps are organic, except for the fragrance oil we use for the designer soaps. Our soaps cost anywhere between Rs. 50 and Rs. 350.”

Visit Gia at www.facebook.com/pages/Gia-Handmade-Bath-and-Body-Products

Aadyam Handmade Creations

An HR professional who quit her job to be with family, Deepa Menon Shetty remembered an aromatherapy course she had taken up, and decided to dive into making handmade bath products. “When you’ve been working for long, you can’t just sit at home. I wanted to do something creative, and this just came up. I gave out samples to friends and family, and when I got good feedback, I decided to get into it full-time,” she says.

A year on, Chennai-based Aadyam has a range of foot soaks, scrubs, foot scrubs, milk salts and bath salts. “Most of my customers have been through word-of-mouth, but social networking has also helped people know about my products,” she says. “The products are handmade, natural and chemical-free, and, therefore, have a shelf life. They have to be used anywhere between three and eight months.”

Aadyam’s foot and face scrubs are said to be popular. “People can ask whatever they need to know. Most of the products are organic as well since I use essential oils,” she says.

Visit Aadyam at www.facebook.com/pages/Aadyam-Handmade-Creations

Skinsense

Rashmi Prithviraj’s products are based on her belief that ‘what goes into your mouth should go on your skin’. Her range of soaps, body baths, lip balms and scrubs are natural and handcrafted with subtle fragrances.

“I make sure the products are as natural as possible, and use essential oils in most of the products. You won’t find these in the market since producing in mass with essential oils is bound to increase the price of the soap. Also, you have to use these soaps and baths as soon as you buy them because they have a shelf life,” she says.

Natural soaps can make a difference provided customers are willing to wait the transitory period, she says. “A lot of people are now realising the value of natural products. When I shifted to Chennai, I had a few skin problems, which I rectified by using my own skin-care products. That’s when I started making products for others as well. When you change to a natural soap, you’ve to wait the first three months or so to see it work.”

Skinsense is available at Crimson Chakra and through her website www.skinsensenatural.com.