As a teenager, founder and chief beauty chef of OASIS Hildra Gwee, was riddled with skin woes.
She started to get red and angry breakouts that could not be cured despite the many spot treatment products that she used. In fact, using more skincare products worsened her skin problems.
Over the course of the next 18 years, she “went through everything possible” — from steroid creams to antibiotics, to bi-weekly facials — but nothing worked.
Having tried virtually every chemical she could get her hands on, she decided to give natural remedies a try. Inspired by the natural skincare books that her husband got her, she started to conduct online research to learn more.
The couple later travelled to France and sourced for as many organic ingredients as they could find to bring back to Singapore so she could commence her experiments.
It all began with creating a facial oil, which made her skin gradually feel more balanced, less oily, and generally more comfortable.
After creating her first batch of skincare for herself, she wanted to make natural solutions available to anyone who wants to minimise the reliance on chemicals. This led to the birth of OASIS in 2018.
Building a beauty kitchen
Hildra considers her space a beauty kitchen more than a store because it is where she handcrafts fresh beauty products, much like a bakery or kitchen.
When Vulcan Post visited the beauty kitchen located within CT Hub along Lavender, we were greeted by the scent of fresh flowers and whiffs of pure vegan oils.
The kitchen island forms the focal point of the outlet, and it’s also where Hildra mixes up her concoctions and produces organic skincare products several times a week.
Despite running OASIS and being its sole beauty chef, she also has a full-time job in the banking industry for the past decade.
“I have always been interested in direct-to-consumer businesses but never expected to start one myself, and especially not at 34 (when I started OASIS),” said Hildra.
Now aged 37, she sought out to create products to help customers solve their skincare issues as well. The entire business is built from scratch — from the formulation of products, to the very engaged retail experience that OASIS provides to its customers.
“We see ourselves as providing an alternative way for customers to consume consciously while staying accessible in our price points,” said Hildra.
Not just another beauty brand
OASIS’ products are all focused on sustainability, being natural, and of course, solving a problem.
The brand sources for ingredients directly from farms and distilleries, and works with selected artisanal producers who systematically perform microbiological testing on all batches of their extraction to ensure purity and effectiveness.
95 per cent of the brand’s ingredients are sourced directly from France, which has very strict laws guiding skincare companies. As animal lovers, the brand is also conscious about not importing ingredients from labs that do any form of animal testing.
Its product formulations are also targeted for sensitive skin types, therefore Hildra only uses food-grade ingredients that are gentle and non-irritating.
Since the brand was founded three years ago, it has expanded beyond just skincare into the whole gamut of personal and home care.
Solid shampoo caneles are one of the brand’s best sellers. They are intentionally shaped as such, so that they provide a good base for rubbing into one’s hair, while the grooves on the side allow for a better grip.
Hildra told Vulcan Post that it took her over 50 iterations to perfect the formulation of the solid shampoo. She had to experiment tenaciously with ingredients until she got the correct mix of lather, grip, durability and scent, as well as tested out many different shapes for the shampoo.
“With each iteration, I gain knowledge as to how each ingredient reacts with one another,” said Hildra.
The shampoos are available in a great variety of flavours — from ginger to rose and thyme, to blue pea lemongrass — with each flavour targeting a specific pain point.
For example, the ginger solid shampoo was created to tackle hair loss concerns. Hildra had to do extensive research on the natural remedies used throughout times to reduce hair fall and strengthen scalp health before coming up with the recipe for it.
The formula features a high concentration of amla, stinging nettle, Indian pennywort and other nourishing herbs to stimulate the hair follicles and boost hair growth. Each shampoo is also rich in organic essential oils of ginger and lemongrass to enhance blood circulation and strengthen hair from its roots.
Besides solid shampoo, another bestseller at OASIS is the Instaglow beauty oil. The luxe facial oil serum features a formula that purifies the skin and strengthens its barrier.
The key ingredient is Chaulmoogra, which is proven to be effective for the treatment and repair of acne, eczema, atopic dermatitis and other related skin issues.
It is blended into a base of fair trade and organic argan oil, and also features geranium to soothe irritation as well as vetiver to heal scars and promote firmness of skin.
Like the solid shampoos, the serum is also made in the beauty kitchen by Hildra.
The natural beauty product industry is growing
Since the founding of OASIS in 2018, its revenue numbers have doubled year on year.
The brand has also seen its community of customers grow significantly, which points to the fact that there is a growing number of people choosing a more sustainable way to consume personal care.
Even though there is still a lot of education that needs to be done to get people to consider vegan and sustainable alternatives, Hildra has seen people becoming more receptive to the idea over the years.
Besides the beauty kitchen at CT Hub, OASIS has also opened a physical retail store at Joo Chiat.
At the store, customers can bring their own jars, bottles and containers to buy OASIS products by weight, and even customise their own body wash. Since it started its refilling service back in May 2019, the brand has seen a significant increase in customers coming back to the store to refill instead of purchasing new bottles.
“Being sustainable is inconvenient, and our challenge is to make it easy for our community to refill and reuse their containers,” said Hildra.
Hildra told Vulcan Post that she has many plans for OASIS in the pipeline, including opening a few more stores in other neighbourhoods, and expanding to another country in the region.
“My hope is that the natural beauty industry grows in Singapore, and that consumers will be increasingly aware of what they use,” she added.
Featured Image Credit: OASIS
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