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5 Simple Tips for Managing Photodermatitis

This is what I looked like back in September 2013.

I had the misfortune of giving myself photodermatitis. Yes, I did it to myself, albeit unintentionally. 🙁 I reckoned that my skin would never be the same again. Although it did eventually look normal and healthy again after 6 months, I was right–because now it seems to have returned, confined to a smaller area on the lower half of my face, but now affecting my lip as well. The prime suspect for the trigger is a new toothpaste that I tried, so I am abandoning it for now.

Photodermatitis is essentially sun poisoning. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre’s website, “Photodermatitis is an abnormal skin reaction to sunlight, or more specifically to ultraviolet (UV) rays. It can be acute (sudden) or chronic (ongoing). Photodermatitis occurs when your immune system reacts to UV rays. You may develop a rash, blisters, or scaly patches.”

It was horrible. It eventually reached a stage where I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without tearing up, feeling so wretched and helpless. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was wrong with me and also searching for natural remedies to help me cope with my condition. Now with this second flare-up, I am much better prepared to manage the symptoms and put myself on the road to recovery much sooner.

Here is what I learned, and I hope that these tips will help you or a loved one too.

1. Stay out of the sun as much as possible

Before I determined what was causing those weepy red patches to form all over my face, arms and lower legs, I thought that the best course of action was to wear as little clothing covering those areas as possible. How wrong I was! It made matters worse, and the patches became even more inflamed. Try to stay indoors when the sun is at its harshest (between 12pm and 2pm) to allow your skin a better chance to recover quicker.

A patch of skin that had crusted over (and eventually became weepy again)
A patch of skin that had crusted over (and eventually became weepy again)

You may notice that your skin looks reddest at the end of the day, and is almost normal when you look in the mirror first thing in the morning. Night time is kindest to your poor skin, when all is dark and cool.

2. Cover up with clothing and sunblock

If you do need to be outdoors, wear breathable lightweight cotton clothing (long sleeved tops and trousers). Break out your most fashionable wide brimmed hat and don’t skimp on the sunblock. This helped me feel more comfortable in my daily comings and goings tremendously.

Trying to have fun with new wardrobe accessories!
Trying to have fun with new wardrobe accessories!

Under normal circumstances my skin already turns a bit red whenever I use conventional cream based sunblocks, so trying to find an even milder, non-irritating alternative for photodermatitis would be a challenge. Thankfully a friend recommended this particular product to me and it was a life saver. Here is a bottle of Sunplay Skin Aqua UV Moisture Milk SPF 50+ (I know, it’s a mouthful :p), which I don’t leave home without these days.

bottle of sunscreen
A staple in my work bag

It has a light, watery texture that you can easily dab gently into your skin. It doesn’t feel at all greasy either. You can buy it online here, and it usually costs around RM35 at most pharmacies.

3. Cool packs are your friend

These will literally take the burn out of your skin immediately. Wrap a cool pack with a soft cloth (finely woven cotton is best) and place it against your affected skin. Be careful not to rub the area too much because it can cause your skin to break and weep. Repeat as often as you feel comfortable with.

Don’t apply ice cold packs directly on the skin, no matter how good it feels. It will cause a different kind of burn later!

4. Keep your skin moisturized

150824 teselli body souffle test
An experimental batch of whipped body butter that eventually became our Teselli Body Soufflé

I made my own products to soothe and moisturize my skin back in 2013, which eventually gave birth to our Teselli range of products – but you can also use other products to help with your skin’s healing process. Look for skin moisturizers that have a high level of emollients that will protect your skin from losing too much moisture (which is what tends to happen with most forms of eczema, photodermatitis included). The lighter the texture, the easier it will be to dab it into your skin.

I also tried the Salcura salt/mineral spray, but it didn’t really work for me. I reckon it may be more suitable for eczema types that are caused by mineral deficiencies (in which case you may be better off taking oral supplements for a long term solution). You can find this product at most pharmacies too.

For the lips I also apply sunscreen and a balm to keep them supple and less prone to cracking. It burns constantly (until I apply a cool compress), but I try my best not to accidentally brush them against anything rough (no kissing my kids until they heal, unfortunately) or apply too much pressure on them.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 5.57.03 PM
Note the blisters in the middle of my lower lip. They hurt!

5. Tank up on water and healthy oils

I already try my best to drink lots of water on a daily basis, but the other area that I am not as disciplined with is taking more omega 3 oils, which help to reduce inflammation in the body on the whole. It may help with reducing symptoms for other types of eczema too. (You can read more about the role of omega-3 oils in skin health here.) But on my part, here are the supplements and other foods that I actively tried to eat more of, and regularly:

  • avocados (I used to eat them and give the seeds to the kids to play with – the only fruit I know of that comes with a toy inside! :p)
  • fish oil supplements. I doubled or even tripled my intake vis-à-vis the recommended daily allowance to no ill effect.
  • B Complex supplements with zinc and magnesium. This was mainly to help me cope with managing so much on a daily basis.

I do see and feel that my skin is less dry and flaky when I remember to eat these things (I can even do without moisturizer on my lower legs, which tend to get dry most easily).

So I hope that these 5 tips are useful to you. Take heart, your skin has a good chance of recovering! Just be gentle on yourself, allow your skin enough time to recuperate, and keep your chin up. Do share your own tips in the comments section if you have other pointers with managing photodermatitis, I’m sure your fellow readers would be most appreciative of the additional information!

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3 Easy Steps To Hassle-Free Parking When You Visit Our Shop

We know that Damansara Jaya isn’t well known for providing easy access to public parking (there is a good reason why PJ folk are said to be extremely skilled drivers!). So when Atria Shopping Gallery finally opened its doors to the public, not only were its new retail shops and restaurants a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, but their parking lots too.

But it does come at a price – parking charges go for RM1 an hour, then RM2 per entry after 6pm. However if you would like to pay us a quick visit without the stress of squeezing in and out of the narrow lanes in our area, here’s how you can park in Atria for two whole hours - for free.

Step 1: Park at Atria Shopping Gallery

The basement level is a snap to navigate through (it’s essentially just two long lanes running the entire length of Atria), and the upper levels boast wide ramps and bright, airy floors. Access into the mall is easy via lifts and escalators.

Step 2: Go shopping!

You just need to spend a minimum of RM30 at any of Atria’s outlets. Save your receipt. (Pro tip: get some of your weekly supplies from Village Grocer on the Lower Ground floor. They are well stocked with a really good variety of fresh produce and imported goods).

Don’t forget to pay us a visit! :p We are just a 45 second stroll away from the entrance where Manmaru Robatayaki & Bar is (incidentally, they serve excellent sashimi and grilled fish, if you’re looking for a good place for a light lunch). Look for our ducky logo on the front door and mailbox.

Kinder Soaps Square Icon

Step 3: Redeem your free parking

Present your receipt and parking ticket at the Concierge on the Lower Ground floor just before you exit.

Hope this makes it easier for you to come and pay us a visit. You can always ring us at +603-77320955 to check that someone is at the shop to receive you.

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(Re)Introducing our No-Frills Package Deals

We have brought back our Package Deals! Our power users get to enjoy up front cash savings of up to 25% off our soap bars.

You may be wondering what the main differences are between the No-Frills Package Deals and Monthly Subscriptions though, so here they are:[row style=”divided”]

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No-Frills Package Deal

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  • Paid in full, up front
  • Soap choices are determined at time of purchase, and cannot be changed (unless there’s a valid reason, which we can chat about)
  • Delivery frequency is fixed at time of purchase, so we can determine what your shipping charges are:
    • once (free shipping)
    • every 3 months (+RM24 flat, for both East and West Malaysia)
    • every 6 months (+RM8 flat, for both East and West Malaysia)
  • Only available to Malaysian shipping addresses (sorry!)
  • Only naked (unwrapped) soap bars will be delivered to you.
  • Better for those who know exactly what soaps they want to use regularly.

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Monthly Subscriptions

[divider]

  • Automatically billed monthly via Paypal, only for the number of bars you opt to receive every month
  • Soap choices may be changed every month, if you so choose.
  • You will receive soap bars every month.
  • Ships internationally. You will incur shipping fees with every delivery, and rates will differ based on your location.
  • You can choose between receiving wrapped or naked bars.
  • Better for those who prefer flexibility in their soap choices.

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I hope this helps you decide which arrangement better suits your needs. Thanks once again for your tremendous support through the years! 🙂

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We’re Accepting Backorders Now!

Hellooo everyone! We’ve had a bit of a hiccup with our website over the weekend, but thankfully everything’s looking like it works and nothing’s broken (phew!).

One major difference is that for items that are Out of Stock, we are now accepting backorders instead of making you fill out a different Pre Order form. If we do not have a particular item in stock, you will see this notice that reads “Available on backorder” on the product page (refer to the photo). You will still be able to purchase and pay for the product, but we will only despatch the backordered item to you once it is ready. You may refer to the Curing Completion Dates to have a rough idea of when the next batch of your backordered item will be ready. 🙂

The major benefit of doing this is that you will now be able to rack up your reward points by pre-ordering goods that are currently out of stock. :D We hope you’ll be happy with this new arrangement!

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Stamping Use By Dates On Our Soap

soap with date stamp

At some point in time, I reckon every single one of us has picked up a bar of soap (or any perishable good, for that matter), and wondered if it was still safe to use. Or how long it has been around.

This is especially important for us since we are trying to cut down on packaging as much as possible, and still present a useful, safe product to you. So I headed over to the stationery shop, bought a simple date stamp, and pressed it into the sides of all our Goat’s Milk and Patchouli, and Tangy Lavender soap that I made recently.

Voilà! Recommended Best Before Dates printed right on the side of your soap bars–so you’ll never have to wonder if they are still good to use again. 🙂 We’re making this part of our standard production procedure now.

(Now I’m wondering why I didn’t think of this earlier…!)

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Fun With Google Photos

My brother and husband recently began using Google Photos to backup all their photographs so I decided to do the same (and free up valuable hard drive space on my laptop). It has some pretty neat features, like the Assistant which automatically compiles animated clips or videos, or even puts together collages using photos with similar elements.

One other amazing feature is their search function. For instance, type in “flowers” and Google Photos will show you ALL the photos in your collection that have floral elements in them.

Naturally, I tried the search function out for myself.

Here were my results when I searched for soap:

google photo search soap

It’s worth noting that I have over 5,000 images currently backed up on Google Photos–and just three results for my life’s vocation? Okay then…

How about I search for… food?

google photo search food

 

Riiiight. I suppose it’s safe to say that there are a whole lot more food photos out on the Web than there are of handmade soap. All those comments from you that soap can look so edible are definitely not unfounded… :p

Have you tried using Google Photos? Did you like it?

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Ramping Up Production

I wish I could say it was for our own products, but lately we’ve found ourselves spending much more time making soaps and body care products for other companies. Take this for instance:

161F1242-05DD-43F4-B3B2-3561D3072166

That’s just over a thousand bars of soap for one client. We have another order for 1,350 bars of soap to get through in the next few days.

breastmilk soap

These were made for a client who sent in her leftover frozen breastmilk (thank you goget.my for your terrific, careful service to collect them from her!), to be turned into soap. Scented with patchouli and french lavender essential oils–I hope she loves them. 🙂

deodorant

This was the most amusing repeat order–deodorant! We’ve had one client send in 3 orders for 100 tubes each time, all in the span of 4 weeks. I never realised how hot the demand is for such a product. I guess her formulation is really effective.

amenities kit

Then there was the two crazy weeks that I spent trying to whip up a line of products for an amenities kit to pitch for a big client. Still no word from the actual person in charge after I handed over the samples, but the experience that I gained over that period, working with the middle man to continually refine the products, was priceless in itself.

Just so you know – there was NO WAY I could do this all on my own! Thankfully our Sunshines have all been working together to push these orders out the door, and we also have another new production staff coming in several days a week to help me make all these things. Learning to trust other people to pick up a task and run with it (and do it well) is still something I have to struggle with on a daily basis, but I have been blessed with extremely capable people working with me, which makes it so much easier. 🙂

Oh and one more thing:

NASAM Food and Fun Fair 2015. Image credit: Because.my

 

(image credit: Because.my)

This is why we have so little stock left on the shelves! On June 13th we participated in the NASAM’s (National Stroke Association of Malaysia) Annual Food and Fun Fair at Taman Jaya, and raked in a whopping RM4,900 in sales. We committed 30% of all takings that day to be channeled directly to NASAM to support their continuous efforts to educated the public about stroke, and doing all they can to give strokees and their families a better shot at leading a normal life. Thank you for your fantastic support!

Right… so now it’s back to pouring our own soaps to restock our shelves! We’re really sorry if we’ve run out of your favourites. Hang in there, and we’ll be putting up notices about Curing Completion Dates soon.

In the meantime, have yourselves a pleasant week. 😀

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Custom Order – Breastmilk Soap

oval shaped soap made from breastmilk

We’ve just made 30 oval-shaped soap bars, scented with patchouli and lavender essential oils, for a customer who sent us her frozen breastmilk. These will be used by her family members.

I’m actually surprised at how well these turned out – from the colour of the soap, to the smooth finish of the bars (this is the first time I’m using silicone molds for my soap). I hope that our customer will be as happy using them, as we are when we make them. 🙂

Send us an email at sales@kindersoaps.com if you’re like to enquire about our made to order services. These breastmilk soap bars are priced at RM12 and upwards per 80g bar (oval shaped), for a minimum order of 20 bars.

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WAY Outside My Comfort Zone

soap column

Do you remember the feeling you get when you say “Yes” to something that you’ve never done before?

That initial wave of euphoria, followed by a weird, cold sensation at the pit of your stomach that comes from knowing that you’re about to embark on something unknown and unfamiliar.

I’ve been feeling that quite often lately. Mostly because I’ve been taking on OEM / private label orders, and having to get used to working with formulations that are from other parties.

I had one corporate customer whose 720-bar order I repeated twice at my own expense, because I wasn’t familiar the customised soap molds that were required for the job, and the resulting soap bars were either too small, got stuck in the molds, or ashed over so badly that they had to be rejected. Not only that, the card boxes meant for the soap bars refused to work with the double sided tape we were using, and only later were we advised to use a hot glue gun by the client. Four of our staff worked over 3 days to get the job done–and all that hard work was for nought.

It’s easy to get sidelined by the proverbial wrenches that get thrown into the works… But I count myself extremely lucky to have a great team of people working with me at the studio and the shop, and I believe that we are all trying to deliver professional results to everyone we come into contact with. Plus there is also the fun side to bootstrapping, doing all that you can with everything you’ve got.

Case in point:

soap column

We’ve been so busy churning out batch after batch of soap, that we ran out of curing racks–so we made do by stacking these 4 batches of Tangy Lavender we made for a wedding in a circular column on the floor instead. I’ve always wanted to make one of these! Now we had the perfect reason to. 🙂 The air circulation for a column like this is much better compared to the narrow spaces on a curing rack, so hopefully this means that the soap bars will dry out a little faster than expected. It is by no means an original idea (look up for soapmakers from the Aleppo region–they have been making soap for the past 600 years, and stacking their soaps this way), and the folks from the GMP division may raise an eyebrow at the sight, but it does the job.

Now I have another 1,300 bars to make by the end of this week to meet a looming deadline, a shipment of balm tubes that have mysteriously gone missing to track down, and various administrative issues to grapple with (inventory management systems are elusive, yet scary!).

I feel my limits being tested with all this busy-ness, yet I am grateful for these opportunities to learn, and to be stronger. Mistakes trip you up, and you can fall spectacularly for all and sundry to see–but what counts more than the embarrassment of failure is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again (listen to the video below – Diana Krall says this best!) 😉

Have a terrific week ahead everyone!

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Refrigerate Your Soap For Best Shelf Life

fridge interior

This, ladies and gents, is probably the best possible place for you to store any form of handmade, all-natural skincare. Given that we are trying to do away with plastic shrink wrapping, and that our beeswax wraps themselves also have limited shelf lives of their own, we highly recommend that you treat them as you would fresh food.

Place your unopened soap bars in plastic containers and keep them in the fridge until you need to use them. The containers will help to prevent the soap and food from cross-contamination of odours, but they are not necessary. The cold, dry insides of the fridge will prevent the formation of mould on the beeswax wraps, which has happened for soap bars that were stored in warm, humid places. And since your fridge is already running 24/7, adding a few soap bars in there won’t do much to change its current energy consumption. Reducing spoilage will also mean that we won’t use up resources to replace otherwise perfectly good bars of soap.

It’s a terrific win-win solution all round:

  • we do away with plastic shrink wrapping
  • the lifespan of both our beeswax wraps and soap are prolonged
  • our collaborative efforts will reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills and waterways
  • reduced carbon footprint of having to purchase shrink wrapping or importing (costly) biodegradable options
  • reduces waste from having to replace spoilt soap bars
  • makes use of an existing resource, i.e. your fridge, which already operates 24/7 without any additional energy consumption to accommodate the soap.

I know that this is a bit of an odd practice when it comes to storing skincare items, and I do apologise if this causes you any inconvenience. However I feel very strongly about using as little plastic as possible, and to also minimise the amount of materials we use for packaging as best as we can. Too much waste from the consumption of all kinds of things in our daily lives is already being dumped into landfills. I believe that you and I are in a good position to reduce our contribution to waste generation by tweaking our habits here and there. 🙂

Thank you so much for your continued support. Please share this information with other users of handmade skincare (not just Kinder Soaps), so that we can save even more space in the earth from being taken up by unnecessary packaging.