The key to soft, radiant hands may be no farther away than a tropical backyard garden.
That was the intriguing conclusion reached by Satoko Takahashi, owner of Maui Sugar Babe. Takahashi, a native of Japan, had long known that brewers of sake, working with fermented rice called koji, always had soft, moist hands from exposure to the enzymes – gentle, natural chemicals in the paste. In Japan, many skin-care products are crafted from koji, which is also a popular dietary supplement, and fermented rice bran, or nuka.
Often these come in the form of so-called sugar scrubs. Enzymes, Takahashi knew, help break down the keratin protein on dead cells on the upper layer of skin. This natural exfoliation without acid or other harsh chemicals works well for people with dry, sensitive skin, even those with eczema – red, itchy patches.
“I had a chance to try a high-end cosmetic brand’s sugar scrub on my hands at my friend’s party,” Takahashi recalls. “It smelled so good and made my hands so soft and smooth, even after the party. I kept touching my hands all day. When I came home, I Googled, ‘How to make sugar scrubs.’ There are many easy recipes of homemade sugar scrubs. I was wondering if I could make it with the fruits from our yard.”
A variety of fertile trees adorn Takahashi’s 1-acre property in Waihee, Maui, on the eastern slopes of the West Maui Mountains, an area blessed with abundant rain, sun, and rich soil. Her mangoes and passion fruit provided the first grist for her emerging mill.
“I decided to make enzymes from my fruits, instead of using fresh juice,” she says. “The fermentation process is used for preserving food and enhances the fruit aroma. I stop the fermentation just before the enzyme turns to alcohol.” She adds, “I stir my fruit enzyme jars every day with my hands, so my hands are always soft and hydrated!”
The resulting Farm Made Sugar Scrub line includes Mango Tango and Lilikoi Bliss, $15 per 6-ounce jar. No artificial fragrances or colors are added. The sweet, tropical aromas are from the fruits alone. Takahashi promises proudly that these are “gentle for all skin types, even sensitive skin, and it works great for exfoliating and moisturizing.” Oh, and don’t forget the Pina Colada (pineapple and coconut) and Mojito (mint and lime).
Now, that’s skincare with a twist.