Tomoka Nguyan is a woman on a mission and it is a big one. Her vision is nothing less than to convert people to using homemade all-natural skin care and to stop buying it from big business.
It may take a while but in her view we simply don’t need all the face care we think we do, or rather have been persuaded that we do. “As things are these products are harmful both to ourselves and our environment” she maintains, “they come with packaging that is wasteful and non-degradable. What they do is essentially unregulated, all too often contain toxic chemical ingredients, are over marketed, over-priced and rely on hype and dubious scientific evidence” she concludes.
In case you should think that Tomoka is a fanciful dreamer, think again. A beautiful and stylish woman, wife and mother of two, born in Japan, she is a succesful business woman who has been in the vanguard of the spa and beauty movement in Asia since she arrived in Bali in early the mid 1990s. She not only means what she says but has been plotting the way to achieve this vision for seven years now and her book is the first step to show us how it can be done.
As well as motivating us to make our own products (yes, that includes skin care products for men) she sees the movement becoming a social enterprise whereby women in marginalised places in Bali and elswhere can produce product to be sold online.
“It’s a big task, yes – but making things for ourselves brings very tangible benefits plus some powerful intangible ones”. She likens it to home cooking. “We know the healthiest option is to cook at home because we know exactly how we like our food, we know the ingredients we are using and can adjust the recipe to suit our health and inclination ”, she says.
Intrigued by the possibilites and impressed by the level of committment and experience of the industry she brings to her subject I ask whether this level of committment would be forthcoming in sufficient numbers to work. “Why not? People buy far more product than they need. Two to three products is usually enough and once the initial purchase of equipment is made two or three hours of work properly stored provides a six month supply.” That, and given the large savings you make by doing it yourself, which Tomoka puts at 80%, make it hard to see why it should not catch on.
The beauty addresses something fundamental within all of us and central to it all is face care. However we paint or adorn ourselves nothing trumps beautiful skin and the most beautiful skin of all is a healthy skin. If like me, you too are intrigued by the possibilities that Tomoka’s vision opens up you need to read the book she’s written. It’s called “Beauty Confidential”, subtitled “Build Happiness, Health and Beauty with Homemade Skincare Products and Home Spa”.
The word ‘Confidential’ used in the book’s title is apt. Despite reports of toxic chemicals widely used in commercial producs, unlike the food we eat, we tend to give cosmetics an easy ride. Yes, we are aware to a degree that parabens and phthalates, widely used bulking and penetrating agents, we don’t really take aboard the extent to which parabens are implicated in breast cancer and phthalates disrupt the hormonal system, which can lead to learning diabilities, cognitive and birth defects, cancers and infertility.
But that is just scraping the surface of the problem.
As her book points out the beauty industry is under no obligation to list all the chemicals included in their formulations. That is scary when you know the average woman uses up to 12 personal care items daily, that each product contains an average of 14 chemicals amounting to over 100 chemicals applied to the body every single day,of which you know nothing at all and which are combined with other ingredients specifically included to penetrate deep into the body (just think birth control, nicotine and growth hormone patches to get a perspective on that). Cosmetics contain some 10,500 different chemicals, 89 percent of which have never been tested to see if they are safe to use with such frequency and duration.
When you consider that the beauty care industry was worth US$460 billion in 2014 and expected to top $615 billion by 2020 and bearing in mind the lack of regulatory oversight, is it any wonder manufacturers want to keep us in the dark. The profit margins are huge, costs of content and manufacture are very low, as little as 2% of cost.
If I have dwelt upon the urgent need Tomoka articulates so persuasively in making the change from commercial products to do-it-yourself 100 percent personalised and all-natural ones it is because the reasons are so compelling. The book is not strident or polemic, this aspect is actually just a small, albeit important part, of what comes across as a very loving and supportive work. Tomoka not only comes from a place of deep conviction and knowledge but walks the talk. She has not just trod the path herself but tells us step-by-step how we can do it too.
The book, which is well researched and referenced, goes on to explain clearly the benefits of formulating your own products over ready-made ones, telling us exactly how we can go about it. It is in short, a manifesto and call-to-action combined with an easy-to-follow guide to some 150 science-backed natural formulations covering the areas of make-up removal, cleansing creams, facials and washes, moisturising toners, creams, masks and facials, sun protection, deodorants, make-ups and hair care with numerous individual variations to cover certain conditions and ageing.
Anyone reading this book will quickly understand that the person who wrote it possesses special qualities. Born in the Japanese countryside in a very traditional Japanese small town Tomoka’s greatest influence was her loved and revered grandmother, to whom she dedicates her book. Growing up she yearned to explore the world and went to London to learn English, where she enrolled in the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) majoring in Southeast Asian studies and going on to complete further research in Sumatra and Vietnam.
Arriving in Bali in 1997, which is where this story really began, she landed a job with Thalasso the first day-spa here. Inspired by the abundance of Balinese remedies and modalities, she rode the spa-tsunami of that era and was soon overseeing no less than 15 spas around the region. Next she regionally managed Mandara Spa, before undertaking various senior managerial roles with GHM hotel management and finally as Resort Manager for Chedi Club before leaving Bali in 2004. She then worked as a Director for ESPA in the Peninsula Bangkok and Sentosa Resort, Singapore, and is currently VP for the Legian Hotel Management, working on their new project in Lombok in addition to her independent consultantcy work within the industry.
In 2004 she married ex-colleague Nam Nguyan, then executive chef for GHM. They now live in Singapore with two daughters aged 10 and 11. Nam has just opened his first NamNam Noodle bar in Bali, which already has 6 outlets in Singapore and 4 in Jakarta.
Beauty Confidential by Tomoka Y. Nguyan
For further information on Tomoka’s work or to obtain a copy of the book, contact:
Online booksales: jojomoka.net/book/beauty-confidential/
Kindle: www.amazon.com/Beauty-Confidential-Happiness-Homemade-Skincare ebook/dp/B076SNVKFHPrice:US$24
Comments or queries ParacelsusAsia@yahoo.com
\Copyright © 2018 ParacelsusAsia
You can read all past articles of Alternative Voice at