As a teenager, Hildra Gwee, founder and head chef of OASIS, was plagued by skin problems.
She got red and angry breakouts that couldn't be cured despite the many stain treatment products she used. In fact, using more skin care products made their skin problems worse.
Over the next 18 years, she went through "everything" from steroid creams to antibiotics to biweekly facials – but nothing worked.
After trying virtually every chemical she could get her hands on, she decided to try natural remedies. Inspired by the natural skin care books that her husband got her, she started researching online to find out more.
The couple later traveled to France sourcing as many organic ingredients as they could find to bring them back to Singapore so she could begin her experiments.
It all started with making a facial oil that would gradually make your skin feel more balanced, less oily, and generally more comfortable.
After developing her first line of skin care products for herself, she wanted to provide natural solutions to anyone looking to minimize their reliance on chemicals. This led to the birth of OASIS in 2018.
Build a beauty kitchen
The OASIS Beauty Kitchen / Image source: OASIS
Hildra sees her space more as a beauty kitchen than a shop, because here she handcrafts fresh beauty products, similar to a bakery or kitchen.
When the Vulcan Post visited the beauty kitchen at the CT Hub along Lavender, we were greeted by the scent of fresh flowers and a touch of pure vegan oils.
The kitchen island is the focal point of the outlet, and this is where Hildra mixes her creations and produces organic skin care products several times a week.
Although she runs OASIS and is the only beauty chef, she has also had a full-time job in banking for the past decade.
"I've always been interested in direct customer business, but I never expected to start one myself, and especially not when I was 34 (when I started OASIS)," said Hildra.
Now at the age of 37, she was looking for products that would also help customers solve their skin care problems. The entire business is being rebuilt from the ground up – from the formulation of products to the very engaging retail experience that OASIS offers its customers.
"We see ourselves as an alternative way for customers to consume consciously and at the same time to remain accessible in our price range," said Hildra.
Not just another beauty brand
Solid shampoos from OASIS / Image source: OASIS:
OASIS products are all geared towards sustainability, naturalness and, of course, problem solving.
The brand sources its ingredients directly from farms and distilleries and works with selected artisanal producers who systematically perform microbiological tests on all batches of their extraction to ensure purity and potency.
95 percent of the brand's ingredients are sourced direct from France, which has very strict laws for skin care companies. As an animal lover, the brand is also aware not to import any ingredients from laboratories that conduct animal testing in any form.
The product formulations are also geared towards sensitive skin types, so Hildra only uses food-grade ingredients that are gentle and non-irritating.
Since the brand was founded three years ago, it has expanded beyond pure skin care to include the full range of personal and household care.
Image source: OASIS
Solid shampoo caneles are one of the brand's best sellers. They are deliberately shaped so that they offer a good basis for rubbing into the hair, while the side grooves allow a better hold.
Hildra told Vulcan Post that it took her over 50 iterations to perfect the solid shampoo formulation. She had to persistently experiment with the ingredients until she had the right mix of foam, grip, durability and fragrance, as well as testing many different shapes for the shampoo.
"With each iteration, I gain insights into how the individual ingredients react with one another," says Hildra.
The shampoos are available in a variety of flavors – from ginger to rose and thyme to blue pea and lemongrass – with each flavor targeting a specific pain point.
For example, the ginger solid shampoo was developed to address concerns about hair loss. Hildra had to do extensive research into the natural remedies that had been used over time to reduce hair loss and strengthen scalp health before developing the recipe for it.
The formula contains a high concentration of amla, nettle, pennywort and other nourishing herbs to stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth. Each shampoo is also rich in organic essential oils made from ginger and lemongrass to help improve blood circulation and strengthen hair from its roots.
In addition to solid shampoo, another bestseller at OASIS is Instaglow Beauty Oil. The luxurious facial oil serum contains a formula that cleanses the skin and strengthens its barrier.
Image source: OASIS
The main ingredient is Chaulmoogra, which has been shown to be effective in treating and repairing acne, eczema, and atopic dermatitis and other related skin problems.
It is blended into a base of fair trade and organic argan oil and also contains geranium to soothe irritation and vetiver to heal scars and promote skin firmness.
Like the solid shampoos, the serum is also made in Hildra's beauty kitchen.
The natural beauty product industry is growing
OASIS: Storage room in Joo Chiat / Photo credit: OASIS:
Since OASIS was founded in 2018, sales have doubled compared to the previous year.
The brand's customer base has also grown significantly, suggesting that more and more people are choosing to consume personal care products more sustainably.
Although there is still a lot of educational work to be done to get people to consider vegan and sustainable alternatives, Hildra has seen over the years people become more receptive to the idea.
In addition to the beauty kitchen in the CT Hub, OASIS has also opened a stationary retail store in Joo Chiat.
In the store, customers can bring their own glasses, bottles and containers to purchase OASIS products by weight and even customize their own body wash. Since launching the refill service in May 2019, the brand has seen a significant increase in customers returning to the store to refill instead of buying new bottles.
“Being sustainable is inconvenient, and our challenge is to make it easy for our community to refill and reuse their bins,” said Hildra.
Hildra told Vulcan Post that she has many plans in the pipeline for OASIS, including opening a few more stores in other neighborhoods and expanding to another country in the region.
"My hope is that the natural beauty industry in Singapore will grow and that consumers will become increasingly aware of what they are using," she added.
Highlighted image source: OASIS