Life & Style

Sold on soap

Soaps by Moonlight Meraki

Soaps by Moonlight Meraki   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Floral-scented soaps, fruit-infused soaps, goat milk soaps... hand-crafted soaps find a growing clientèle

Cleopatra is said to have bathed in donkey’s milk to maintain her skin. Although donkey’s milk has still not gained popularity in Kerala in the cosmetic industry, there are many who are swearing by goat’s milk and using bathing bars manufactured with goat’s milk.

Rejitha Nandini

Rejitha Nandini   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Bindu Balachandran and Rejitha Nandini offer artisanal soaps that have goat’s milk as one of the ingredients in their products. While Bindu, a travel consultant, offers goat milk soaps with medicated oils such as Nalpamaradi keran and Pinda thailam, multani mitti and neem and basil, Rejitha has two variants — classic goat milk soap and goat milk and charcoal soap.

“I use real goat’s milk for the soaps although it is really hard to procure. The soaps are for those who have dry and sensitive skin. It also helps improve one’s complexion,” claims Dr. Rejitha, a paediatrician at Muthoot Hospital, Pathanamthitta.

Bindu Balachandran

Bindu Balachandran   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Of late, soap-making has become a trendy practice and there are many making artisanal soaps of all kinds.

“There’s nothing like making your own soap — I love the alchemy of it. It’s a bit like baking actually; measuring and weighing of the ingredients are important if you want your soap to come out right,” says Poornima Nair.

She adds: “I loved the heavenly scents and the scope for creativity as one plays with ingredients and experiments with natural colours to create rainbow-coloured soaps. She went online to learn the craft of soap making.

Poornima Nair and her range of soaps

Poornima Nair and her range of soaps   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Architect Achamma Kripa George started out by crafting soaps for her sister. “She has extremely sensitive skin and can’t use the soaps that are available in the market.” Looking for an alternative for her sister, she began researching on soaps and discovered essential oils and its various uses. Consulting online soap-making methods and through a lot of trials and errors, she soon created a soap out of shea butter containing various essential oils for her sister. Delighted that the soap worked for her, she began experimenting and making soaps for family and friends.

Achamma Kripa George

Achamma Kripa George   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Ayurveda physician Indie TG uses what’s there in her pantry for her soaps, right from bananas to buttermilk. She feels people are beginning to realise the downside of chemicals in their soap, and what they do to their skin, and are gradually moving towards natural products. “Artisanal soaps are different from the store-bought generic variety. Hand-crafted soaps are usually all-natural and environment-friendly,” says Indie.

Indie TG

Indie TG   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Those who are not particularly conscious of their bath soaps are usually attracted to the hand-made soaps because they are often beautifully coloured, scented and shaped. “However, once they begin using these soaps they are hooked when they discover their skin looking supple and clearer,” says soap-maker Nithya Manoj.

And with competition being stiff, customers are spoilt for choice. Want a floral-scented soap? How about a soap with a marigold, frangipani or lavender fragrance? Or are fruity fragrances more up your alley? Opt for a pineapple and coconut milk soap, guava apricot or milk cream and strawberry soap. Some soaps come with natural exfoliators such as oatmeal and loofah and double up as body scrubs, while others that incorporate wine and beer are for those who want a touch of the exotic.

Nithya Manoj

Nithya Manoj   | Photo Credit: Liza George

Anti-tan soaps, soaps with tiny toys tucked in the middle for kids... there is an entire spectrum of soaps available online. Prices for the soaps start from ₹120 for one piece.

According to the makers of artisanal soaps, their products are all made in small batches to maintain quality, and most are custom-made. “Some may want something that suits their skin, a specific fragrance, a particular shape...,” says Nithya. And a lot of research goes behind each variety of soap, although at times, some recipes turn out to be a disaster. Each soap tends to contain essential oils, medicinal herbs or butters that are believed to carry medicinal properties. “For instance, neem is good for the skin, aloe vera is great for the complexion, shea butter is an excellent moisturiser...,” she adds.

Family and friends turn guinea pigs as they try out the testers prepared by the soap-makers. Some customers, according to Kripa, often ask her for suggestions on soap that will suit their skin type. “They WhatsApp pictures of their skin. I, however, tell them to consult a doctor first to get the right diagnosis about their skin condition before I suggest anything.”

Crafted with care
  • You can pick up the soaps of the artisans under the brand names
  • Poornima Nair - Moonlight Meraki
  • Achamma Kripa George - Pat Your Skin
  • Indie TG - Ameya
  • Nithya Manoj - Wild Goose
  • Bindu Balachandran - Krishna
  • Rejitha Nandini - Aloha

Most of those who shop for hand-crafted soaps are women and are aged 30 and above. And although most buy soaps a piece at a time, non-resident Indians tend to buy them in bulk as they shop for their entire family and enough to see them through their next visit. People are also considering artisanal soaps that come in fancy packaging as gifting options.

While some of the soap-makers market their products through WhatsApp groups, others set up Facebook business pages. And while the work is labour-intensive, the makers say that they derive satisfaction knowing that they are offering customers a healthy alternative to conventional products. Lather away, we say.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 7:52:22 PM |

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