One would associate peppermint, chamomile and jasmine with various types of tea, and lavender and rose with heavenly scents. Surprisingly, these lovely flowers are also great sources of essential oils. Each oil comes with its own alleged health benefits. For example, peppermint oil may help to boost energy and aid in digestion, while rose oil helps to improve mood and reduce anxiety. In recent years, we can see that the popularity of essential oils is on the rise.
Public awareness of how chemicals in commercial soaps may harm the body may be one contributing factor to this phenomenon. Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a common emulsifier may cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and lungs with long-term use. Excessive levels of SLS may also strip a lot of natural oil from hair and skin, leaving it dry and rough. This is bad news for those with sensitive skin or suffering from eczema.
Adding phthalates, another type of commonly used chemical to commercial soap will make the fragrances last longer. The bad news is, exposing oneself to phthalates, in the long run, may disrupt sex hormone levels. Worst, mothers having heavy exposure to phthalates during pregnancy and breastfeeding may increase the risk of children developing allergic asthma.
Manufacturers of commercial soap products claim that these chemicals are kept at low levels, thus the soaps are safe to be used. However, with a safer alternative readily available, concerned consumers should re-think their purchases.
Learning About Essential Oils
Tanny Tan came to learn about the benefits of using natural products while working for a company manufacturing skincare products from natural ingredients. She noticed that the company’s red lipstick was not as bright as the ones commercially sold. She made enquiries as she was curious. Apparently, the red colourant on commercially sold lipstick is extracted from cochineal bugs. Although commonly used as food colourings, the carmine red dye is also reported to cause life-threatening allergic reactions.
It was only then that she realised the importance of knowing how different chemicals, natural or not, may react with our bodies, and in some cases, may cause harm.
The On-Going Journey
Tanny continued to learn more about essential oils throughout her career in several skincare manufacturing companies. She then took it upon herself to learn soap making from scratch. After many months of trials and errors, she managed to produce several types of soap bars, using different types of essential oils.
“Back then, I never had a chance to try out my soaps. Every time I made a new soap bar, my relatives and my housemate would be the ones using it,” Tanny recalls. Surprisingly, when they told her how soft their skin felt after using her essential oil soap, she knew then that she had a winning product.
Spreading The Joy Of Essential Oils
Tanny, together with two other business partners, officially set up Craft and Oils in Bandar Seri Damansara in September 2019. Their mission is to increase public awareness of the benefits of essential oils.
Craft and Oils conducts classes to teach customers how to use essential oils when making various consumer products. Although bar soap remains the most popular product, customers can also learn how to make hand sanitisers, skincare products, baby care products and even camping necessities (e.g. mosquito repellent). On top of that, raw materials will be provided during the class. After the class, customers can make the products at their own convenience at home, either for personal or business purposes.
“We only use high-quality essential oils from Young Living. Most commonly used essential oils are peppermint, lavender (antiseptic properties), frankincense (anti-aging) and geranium (cell renewal),” says Tanny.
“Our concept is “Natural products must be affordable”. It comes from nature. Why must it be expensive?” explains Tanny. The price of commercially sold essential oil bar soap can reach up to MYR380. On the contrary, the bar soap that she produces costs only around MYR40.
Soap-Making From Scratch
In her class, Tanny teaches how to make bar soap from scratch, or “cold-press soap”. She educates her customers all the way from start to finish and explains to them the various usage of essential oils. The beauty of making cold-press soap is that customers can decide how much essential oils to add into the mix. A higher concentration of essential oils would produce a bar soap with a stronger scent.
For customers that have pre-existing skin conditions, Tanny will advise them to use essential oils that would be suitable for their skin. If the “recipe” does help to improve their skin condition, customers can repeat making the same soap for daily use.
She recalls making a shea butter-and-bee wax soap for an elderly man with a severe skin condition. His skin would dry out and become itchy after washing dishes. After using her shea butter-and-bee wax soap for two weeks, his skin greatly improved. He is now a regular user of the soap.
She does not add preservatives in her soaps, which makes the scent usually lasts about three months.
I Can’t Believe It Is Not A Cupcake!
What if you were told that you can make a delicious-looking cupcake-shaped soap?
Some might think such nonsense only exists in movies and cartoons. But, lo and behold! Tanny and her team can teach you how to make a beautifully handcrafted cupcake soap.
The cupcake soap is made from lavender oil, food-grade vanilla essence and soap dye. It weighs about 100 grammes and takes about 15 minutes to make.
The best part is the raw material only costs about MYR25!
Imagine attending the class with your daughter and letting her design and make her own soap. She would definitely love it! Plus, both of you will be having fun along the way.
And there is no need to worry if your child accidentally ingested the soap. It is made from natural ingredients. Hence, it would not be causing any harm.
Soap-Making Classes, Anyone?
Craft and Oils keeps each session small, no more than eight people per session. This way, each participant would get more personalised attention and better communication between them and the instructor. They also cater for private one-to-one sessions.
So, if you are thinking to start using natural soap products or seeking an alternative way to spend quality time with your children or friends, do get in touch with Craft and Oils to set up a learning session. You may learn the joy of using essential oils for healthy living while having fun.
Who knows, it may even springboard you into a business opportunity where you get to produce and sell artisan natural products under your own brand name?