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Our (Very Nifty) Eco-Friendly Prototype Soap Wrappers

While waiting for our labels to be finalised and printed for our Teselli range of products, I thought I’d better spend some time to explain to you why I’m extremely excited about our wrapping material for our Teselli soap bars.

It is because this truly bio-degradable material could possibly see us circumventing the need to use plastic shrink wrapping to protect our soap altogether.

It means that there may finally be a viable, sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to THIS:

shrink wrapping machine

(As grateful as I am for this workhorse of a machine, I must admit that I do cringe a little every time I look at this photo. :”) )

So what is this mystery material that is

  • recyclable,
  • bio-degradable,
  • all-natural,
  • washable,
  • waterproof (yup!) and
  • easy to repurpose?

It’s 100% cotton fabric suffused with beeswax.

And we made it ourselves, using fabric we  purchased from a nearby shop, and the beeswax which we are already incorporating in some of our products.

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Isn’t it beautiful?

I don’t think there’s anyone in Malaysia as at the time of writing this post, who is actively using, promoting or selling this material, but it certainly isn’t a novel idea. There are a few companies in North America which are making and selling these beeswax cloths as a means of wrapping fresh foods etc, in place of plastic cling wrap. Bees Wrap is one such company. There are also plenty of really easy DIY tutorials out there to make your own beeswax cloth to use at home so that you can also reduce your dependency on plastic cling wrap.

Our Teselli soap is the first batch of soap with which we are experimenting the use of beeswax cloth as a means of protection from the elements. Don’t throw the cloth away! Try and find some uses for them around the house. They are very easy to mold to any shape just by using the warmth of your hands. I’ve used them for wrapping half-eaten apples (a common occurrence in a house full of small children) and storing them in the fridge, keeping my keys packed away in my bag so they won’t scratch anything…

You can keep the cloths clean by washing them in cool, soapy water. Don’t use hot water or the beeswax will melt away! Also, if you’d like to smooth out the creases in the beeswax cloth after they have been used for some time, just iron the cloth (when it is completely dry) in between two sheets of greaseproof paper, laid on top of a sheet of aluminium foil (for slightly more even heat distribution). The beeswax will melt and be redistributed evenly through the fabric.

Or you can also collect them and send the cloths back to us for recycling, and claim your complimentary bar of soap if you send us a dozen. 🙂

In case you’re wondering–yes, these cloths are very labour-intensive to make on a large scale, and they cost even more than our drawstring bags to produce. But I personally feel that all of this is entirely worthwhile, knowing that we have actively taken a step away from being dependent on plastic as a means of protecting our soap.

Can you tell that we are SUPER excited at the prospect of making more of these cloths for wrapping our soap with? We hope that you’ll share our enthusiasm for adopting the use of beeswax cloth by making your own and using it around your home, or simply talking about this eco-friendly alternative with your circle of friends and family.

Every little action helps!

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Teselli – The Story

I’d like to share with you the story behind our Teselli range of products. The word teselli means solace or comfort in the Turkish language. I think it’s a beautiful word. 🙂

Back in September I accidentally exposed my skin to too much lemon essential oil in a home experiment for some soap. The effects were drastic and long-lasting–almost 3 months later my skin still literally burns in sunlight and goes through severe inflammation and peeling. My skin has what is commonly known as photodermatitis, that is, I am allergic to sunlight.

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So the past few months have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me as I embarked on a journey to find out what would help to soothe my skin. Every time I thought my skin was finally better, I would get careless and forget to apply sunblock / forget to wear my hat or jacket, and the whole burn-heal cycle would repeat itself. If the particular burn episode was bad, my skin would weep for a day or two, and I refused to look at my reflection in the mirror because I would be terribly upset by the image I’d see. Most online articles about externally-caused photodermatits suggest that the prognosis is good–my skin should be better in 6 months’ time, but I personally have doubts as to whether it will ever be completely normal again.

This photo was taken in early October. The skin on my neck and chest are much better now and don’t flare up much anymore, but my face still does, and quite spectacularly too.

However the upside of all this is that I have experimented with, and conclusively found formulations that have really helped my skin heal much quicker than it would have if I had left it on its own. Although there were many instances when I was so desperate for my skin to heal, I flatly refused to use any form of steroid-based creams because I needed to validate the efficacy of natural alternatives.

Then came the news of typhoon Haiyan / Yolanda laying waste to the central region of the Philippines, leaving possibly as many as 10,000 people dead. This morning was when I decided to find some meaningful way to help the living victims of the typhoon, and subsequently chose to donate 10% of all our sales at Kinder Soaps from today till 25th December 2013 to Mercy Malaysia, which is sending medical teams out to the areas affected by the typhoon. Here’s the video I recorded this morning of the announcement of this decision:

So this gave birth to the formulations for our Teselli range, consisting of the soap, whipped body soufflé and the intensive treatment serum. They may not be the prettiest smelling skin care products you’ve come across, but I can assure you that they can do quite amazing things with your skin. Not all of these products are ready for sale as they have only just been made and I haven’t even had time to design their packaging nor create their listing pages here, but I expect to have them ready for you within the coming week.

For our soap I incorporated two essential oils which are most commonly associated with the Christmas season–frankincense and myrrh. Both of these herbs have been documented to have been in use for skincare from as far back as 5,000 years in the middle east, and is also still used in traditional chinese and ayurvedic medicine. The resulting scent is decidedly medicinal, and it should assist in the skin’s healing process when used regularly. (Note: The soap has already been made and will be done curing on November 20th.)

The Teselli Whipped Body Soufflé was formulated to impart intensive moisturization to extremely parched skin–even more so than our range of Skin Treats oils. It contains organic fair trade shea butter from Ghana, and beeswax to nourish and protect skin that has lost some of its ability to retain moisture, which leaves it dry and flaky without intervention.  I scented it with rose geranium and lavender essential oils which are much more familiar and comforting scents compared to frankincense and myrrh. They also contribute to the healing properties of the soufflé. (Note: The first batch of the body soufflé has already been made – all that is left to do is for me to design its labels, before they are ready for purchase.)

And finally, the Teselli Intensive Healing Serum. This one contains just two ingredients: tamanu oil and the highly prized (and very, very expensive) essential oil of the Helichrysum italicum plant, which is also known as the “everlasting” or “immortelle”. Much research has already shown conclusively that it is a superior cicatrisant (i.e. it promotes the formation of scars for healing). It certainly has helped my skin tremendously at making a quick recovery from burns. Just a few drops can be used on old scars that you find difficult to clear, scald burns, and also for wounds, cuts or inflamed patches of skin that are in urgent need of assistance to heal and to be soothed. I would describe the scent to be slightly smoky with a herbaceous top note. The serum is very light and easily absorbed into the skin. (Note: I’m digging into my personal stash to make this particular batch of serum, and have just put in an order for more of these two oils. The serum will be available for purchase once I’m done designing its label.)

So there you have it, the story behind our Teselli range of products. The listings for the individual products should be up by the end of this week, but the products may not be available for sale till Monday the 25th because I’m still having the labels designed. 🙂

I hope that my own bitter experience with tackling photodermatitis will be able to help you, or a loved one, in your own quests to heal and soothe your skin afflictions.

Teselli. Solace. Both these words hold so much meaning for me in so many ways now.

(By the way, in case you’re wondering how my skin is now, it’s much better. I still have to be careful about exposure to daylight, but I haven’t had a severe burn episode in weeks. 🙂 )