updated 9 Apr 2014, 09:56
Login password
Sun, Nov 03, 2013
Urban, The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Homegrown skincare brands make their mark - Mandy T
by Gladys Chung

Packaged in square glass jars, each featuring a ceramic spoon slung around the neck, Ms Mandy Tan's eponymous bodycare range looks more like an assortment of condiments.

The effect, she says, is intentional, as she wants the line of 23 body scrubs, bath salts and body creams to convey the fact that they contain edible ingredients.

Technically, most of the ingredients in her bodycare range - such as rosemary, mint leaves, green tea, brown rice, sea salt and avocado oil - can be eaten.

"Although I don't think the formulas would taste good," she says.

The exceptions would be the emollients and glycerin in the body creams which are added to help moisturise the skin.

Ms Tan, 38, a former events and public relations director, started the brand in June because she disliked the idea of using products that contain harmful ingredients, such as parabens, petrochemicals and synthetic dyes.

"Why should you put something that you cannot eat on your skin, when what your skin absorbs also goes straight into the bloodstream?" she says.

Ms Tan decided to focus on bodycare products because she felt that there was a lack of naturally formulated body scrubs and bath salts in the market.

She was inspired by the natural essential oils, herbs, spices and plants she saw on her travels to Africa, the Mediterranean and the region.

"Many of them have the power to heal, soothe and rejuvenate the skin, body and mind," she says.

A year before she started the Mandy T line, she travelled around the region to trade shows and factories to find the right suppliers. Then, she formulated the products in her own kitchen.

Today, most of the ingredients that she uses for the products are imported from the United States, while the formulas are made in Singapore at the brand's workshop.

The line is divided into nine categories: Energy (made with wild rosemary and fresh mint), Purify (lemongrass and ginger), Zen (green tea and brown rice), Goddess (Indian Jasmine and mint), Romance (wild roses and geranium), Serenity (wild lavender and chamomile), Passion (wild orchid and safflower), Absinthe (sweet fennel seeds and star anise), and Caffeine (Arabic coffee and coconut).

Prices start from $36.60 for a jar of bath salts to $45.90 for the body creams. They are stocked at multi-label boutique Nana & Bird, the Red Dot Design Museum Singapore and Les Affaires boutiques, as well as at

The best-selling products are the Zen Bath Salt and Goddess Body Cream. Most of the sales are made through the online store (orders over $100 get free delivery in Singapore), and she restocks between one and three times a month.

Ms Tan, who is single, started the brand with a "low five-figure sum", as the self-taught designer and marketing graduate of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Singapore did everything, from the design of the packaging to the marketing, herself. She broke even in three months, but declined to reveal sales figures.

One of the things that she insisted on when creating the product packaging was to have easy-to-understand ingredient lists.

"You should know what you're putting on your skin," she says.

Get a copy of Urban, The Straits Times or go to for more stories.

  >> Next
more: skincare
readers' comments

Copyright © 2014 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.