Freny Jariwala's The Secret Ingredient wins you over with Multani Mitti soap and baby massage oil
Inspired from her great-grandfather’s soap-making business and grandmother’s ghar-ke-nuske, 29-year-old Freny Jariwala founded ‘The Secret Ingredient’, which specialises in cent per cent natural soaps. Derived largely from ingredients used in Indian households, these soaps are available in options like Multani Mitti (clay), Poppy Seeds, Coffee Scrub, Bergamont Pepper, Rose Petals and Activated Charcoal. While poppy seeds and coffee work well for exfoliating the skin and opening the clogged pores, Multani mitti soap took me back to my childhood - my mother would often soak Multani mitti in water and ask me to rub in on my body during shower. Not only does Multani mitti help in de-tan but it also reduces whiteheads and blackheads.
What's most impressive about these soaps was the fact that Jariwala had made no effort to polish the rawness that these ingredients bring. The soaps are also free from any artificial fragrance. However, one might notice a pungent smell, which Jariwala tells us is because of castor oil, a pinch of which she adds in her soaps to leave a good lustre on the skin. Alongside soaps, Jariwala's Surat-based brand offers face cream, under eye cream, massage oil and face serum. While I found the serum a bit sticky, I absolutely fell in love with their massage oil. Made with ghee mixed with olive, sesame, almond, castor and a small amount of lavender essential oil, it was very rich and effective, especially for joint pains. Another product that you must try is their Aloe Vera Cocoa Butter Eye cream. It is smooth, lightweight and spreads well.
To know these products better, we sat down for a chat with Jariwala. Excerpts from our conversation:
Q: From family’s soap-making business to The Secret Ingredient, please take us through your journey.
Our family has been deeply rooted in the soap business in fairly distinct ways. It was my father’s dream to take his grandfather’s legacy forward. Although my father later found his calling in the paint industry, he called for a soaper from Korea to help me understand the process of making and blending your own soaps using bare products or natural ingredients when I expressed my interest. From then on, our journey started in our factory shed with me mixing and making soaps for myself and having friends and family try the experiments.
Q: From where did you find these recipes?
My recipes are my interpretation of my grandmother’s secrets to great skin. When I was exposed to the idea of skincare, I was always excited about trying the basic mixing-it-all-up. But, because fresh skincare concoctions such as Multani mitti or milk would be one-time use only, I was keen on figuring out an effective way to provide the right nourishment to the skin, a thorough skin treatment people can include in their daily routine, especially for everyone wanted to try these ghar-ke-nuske without spending time out of their busy lifestyles to prepare the same.
Q: And, what’s the story behind the brand name?
It was born out of curiosity to draw consumers' attention to reading the ingredients in their soaps. Normally, whenever we purchase an off-the-market product, we hardly spend time on the ingredients or try to look past the fancy marketing face behind the product. With The Secret Ingredient, I want people to take the time to read the ingredients and feel joy in knowing that they are not putting their money in any quick fix chemicals which may seem to enhance skin for some time but then not live up to their promise of effective skin solution.
Q: Beyond soaps, what else do you offer?
Our product line extended into Lip Balms, Serums and Creams using the same philosophy that hygiene and daily skincare routine go hand in hand.
Q: Why Green Tea for day cream? Also, tell us in detail about your serum and eye cream, what makes them special?
Green tea is known to remove toxins and works as good refreshment for the start of the day. Just like your morning cup of tea, our skin reacts to green tea in a similar way. Serums, on the other hand, work towards rejuvenating your skin as it goes through a lot of stress throughout the day. Our serums are made with simple ingredients that don’t smell too exuberant but they work effectively on the skin. The eye creams are to help with the fine lines and dark circles, or any other dark skin patches on the body.
Q: We loved your baby massage oil, what are the ingredients?
Our baby massage oil or as we call it the Ghee Serum has 100% organic ghee, olive oil, sesame oil, almond oil, castor oil and a small quantity of lavender essential oil. The traditional way of massaging a baby with oil before a bath is still popular and has its advantages as well. Not just traditionally, massage oils are still preferred by parents over massage creams and lotions for their babies. If the baby has dry or flaky skin, it is best to take your doctor’s advice before using any skincare products. A baby is very likely to lick his fingers after massaging, that's why we choose only edible oils so even if any ingredients land up in their tummies, they do not harm your baby.
Q: There is a peculiar smell across all products. Can you please tell us the reason behind it?
We add a pinch of castor oil in all our products as it leaves a good lustre on the skin. The smell is often pungent, but at the same time, we are not trying to provide a really yummy smelling product. You must be aware, any house concoction doesn’t necessarily have to be very appetizing on the nose or the palate, yet it does what it is meant to, almost like perfected alchemy.
Q: What made you build an all-women team?
The idea of an all-woman team came out of the little battles that women fight every day in all aspects of their lives - home, work, and in public. In general, if we were so determined to get through our difficult days, we would be more committed to bringing out these home solutions to some of the pretty complex problems.
Q: Lastly, What makes The Secret Ingredients different from other beauty labels?
If we are the keepers of the secret, we know that our label isn’t really about mass-producing. We carefully craft each of our batches in small lots with thorough care and attention. Our story is not about selling hope, we want to be known for the fact that keeping up with modernity, and we are still in the melting pot of ethnicity and ancestral knowledge. We fancy using all-natural ingredients and we know we do not want to put any additional burden on the environment through our business practices.