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Don't slip up to keep clean.

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Soap maker Aqeela AllahYari aims to clean up the kingdom with her herbal, sweet-smelling suds.

In 2011, the Viva Telecom employee joined the global homestead nation -- taking hygiene matters into her own hands after growing tired of splashing around in a bath full of commercial brands with questionable chemicals and ingredients.

During an internship in Indonesia with an international non-governmental and not-for-profit organisation known as AIESEC where she taught English at a school, Aqeela began to learn the tricks of the trade from a master soap maker named Desi Pederson who comes from an all-green family.

Upon her return to the kingdom, she put her bubbly wisdom to work and after trial and error, the self-sufficient 26-year-old from Muharraq began to create and cure her own organic, sensitive skin-friendly soap.

Aqeela said: "I am the kind of person that reads the labels and the ingredients on the back of every product that I am about to buy. I used to spend hours checking which brands to buy and I was still not comfortable with using them.

"Now I know what I'm using and putting on my skin. Getting married also gave me another reason to continue soap-making as I felt the need to protect my future children from synthetic materials and there are a lot of harmful synthetic materials contained in commercial bath and body products that consumers are unaware of. I'm trying to spread awareness about the harmful effects of these synthetic ingredients."

After researching the benefits of homemade soap and the ingredients used, she ventured on her foamy quest forming liquid and solid face and body soaps by combining specially selected essential oils, salts, dried herbs, herbal teas, cocoa and Shea butter as well as dairy products such as milk and yoghurt. Her favourite combination soap is oatmeal and honey.

Since she would have periodical breakouts, especially during the summer season, Aqeela started testing the soaps on herself and quickly noticed a dramatic change in her skin. Gone were the days of spending hundreds of dinars on dermatology treatments and silky smooth skin.

She said: "I used to break out during the summer and whenever there was a drastic weather change. Since I started using my soaps, I have noticed a remarkable change. Now I know what types of soaps to use depending on my skin change. For example, if my skin reacts to the makeup I am wearing, I know how to treat it.

"I also noticed the change during my honeymoon. In the first two weeks, my skin looked flawless. When I ran out of my products and I had to use commercial soap during my last two weeks of holidaying in the sun, the condition of my skin went downhill. As soon as I got home I remedied it with my herbal soaps and was back on track."

Her soapy skills grew popular with her family and friends, who would receive little bars of soap as gifts and her husband Hesham, 28, who is doing his Masters in environmental policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in the US, encouraged her to pursue it further.

Aqeela added: "Not only did he support me emotionally, but he also funded my business, importing soap supplies and materials for me that I can't find in Bahrain. I would bring in natural colourants, herbs and essential oils from the US. He has always been a great supporter and my number one fan."

In 2013, she began selling her soaps on Instagram, which means my soap in Arabic. She has also showcased her products at different local markets and exhibitions including the Bahrain International Garden Show and Bab Market in Manama. Aqeela takes orders through her social media account making soap based on client preferences including for babies, sensitive skin or acne-prone skin. She does home delivery as well.

She said: "I do provide personalised soaps according to customers' requests, based on skin types, whether they have any inherent skin conditions or to match their baby showers' colour theme.

"It takes me three-to-12 hours to complete. Generally, soaps require three weeks to a month of curing time for them to be ready for daily use. The standard bar of soap size is 8x8.5cm. However, I have also customised several shapes and sizes based on client demand including heart-shaped or Hello Kitty soaps."

Her soaps range in price from 200 fils per piece for giveaways up to BD4 for premium customised bars. On average her soaps cost BD2.

For details, follow her on Instagram

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Aug 5, 2015
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