A Practitioner’s Story – Homemade TCM Soaps & Creams

TCM Inspired Soaps

One of our customers, Jayne Guven, utilised her time during lockdown to create her own business ‘Herbal Haven Creations’.

Herbal Haven Creations is the home of natural, hand made herbal soaps, shampoos and creams with a purpose. Jayne makes all-natural artisan soaps, shampoo bars, liniments and creams that contain Phoenix herbs to benefit skin and hair.

Here is Jayne’s story so far…

Hi Jayne, firstly – please tell us a little bit about yourself and your TCM practice.

My interest in alternative medicine and nutrition started when my 4th child reacted to a vaccine, subsequently, later he was diagnosed with high functioning autism (Aspergers). A psychologist wanted to put him on Ritalin which I didn’t want for him, this started my journey – first into nutrition with the CNM, where I realised the importance of good nutrition, exercise and low exposure to chemicals. The success with my children, and especially, my son on a nutritional protocol made me want to learn more. I went on to study acupuncture, cosmetic acupuncture, moxa and TCM therapies and finally, herbs. For us, martial arts, Chinese herbs and nutrition are a way of life. My journey with herbs began with a trip to China to a small Shaolin school for my son where his Shifu teacher asked if I’d like to see the TCM hospital doctor. After years of migraines and health conditions that Western medicine can’t treat, I was only too glad to have the opportunity to see a Chinese doctor. The herbs helped – a lot! Sometimes desperate actions result in lifelong interests. I see this journey as ongoing as there is so much to learn. I am thankful to the teachers I am currently learning from.

Home educating my children and studying myself has seen my practice remain small. I see clients in person usually via word of mouth referrals as I am not great on computers. I have spent a few years preparing talks and giving them at a local community centre to try and improve people’s knowledge of nutrition, TCM and alternative therapies.

We see that you make a huge variety of balms, soaps, shampoos, vaginal cleansers and more – what inspired you to make your products from Chinese herbs?

The inspiration to create herbal soaps and creams came from my 13-year-old son, who is a Shaolin practitioner and athlete. He often gets bruises and sometimes injuries from his practise. When I started studying herbs, we decided to make some San Huang San (Herbal Ice) which we turned into a cream/balm and later used on a massive bruise. The swelling went down and the bruise resolved much quicker than usual with less pain, so we then made Dit Da Jow (Hit/Fall Wine) which also seemed to work quite well. I was hooked after that and my son wants to package his line of 小龙 Shaolin based creams and liniments. (小龙 is his Chinese name) 

After this came the nit shampoo bar for my granddaughter – long thin hair and nits don’t go together! I used to cut my daughters hair and shave the boy’s hair if they got headlice but couldn’t bear to do this to my granddaughter, so we made a solid shampoo bar and nit hair mask, which my husband also uses for itchy scalp. By this time, I needed to buy a soap storage rack to hold all my trial soaps and shampoos. The issue of sensitive areas of feminine cleansers and female issues came up in a conversation after which I wanted to try and create something gentle, no plastic, 100% natural and using only TCM herbs and natural oils. This resulted in four tries at a product, the Coochie Cleanser, and the Her-B-Fresh. Various adaptations were made by adding Neem or Chamomile but our favourites are the original recipes –  although the Chamomile addition does smell amazing!

Her-B-Fresh Calming Chamomile

What is your best-selling product and how have your clients benefited from it?

My best-selling product at the moment is the Coochie Cleanser (women’s intimate cleanser) followed by Her-B-Fresh and He Shou Wu Solid Shampoo bars. I have some lovely feedback from a customer who previously had had cervical cancer.

Of the creams, the Zi Cao Gao, Qing Dai Gao and San Huang San have had some great feedback from testers. 

Please tell us any client success stories from your handmade products.

Success story-wise, it’s still quite early. But I have had some successes with nappy rash using Qing Dai Gao. The client’s son is lactose intolerant and can get very sore if he eats anything with milk or milk products and Sudocrem was not working. I gave a small sample of the Qing Dai Gao which does not look very appealing as it is a black cream, but she tried it and was pleased with the results. 

I also made an anti-fungal balm for a case of ringworm which worked well as the parent of the client didn’t want any steroid creams for her child. The first three photos below were 24 hours apart and the last photo was 48 hours apart. The ringworm resolved in a week and hasn’t returned (I did also make soap for this case to use when washing hands, followed by the cream throughout the day).

Both the Zi Cao Gao soap and cream has received good feedback. The soap worked well for sore hands, and the cream seems to work well for all skin conditions whether cuts, burns, eczema or dermatitis. I tend to use it when doing rice grain moxa or for sore skin. 

I tend to get very happy if I can help someone with my products! I have made bespoke products before, including an eczema cream. (See photos). I remember being worried as the cream was yellow and when I sent it over I got a message from the customer that they usually reacted badly to yellow creams but she would try it anyway to see. Needless to say, I had a tense few days. However, the cream helped! 

I also have had some good feedback from the intimate cleansers, which I am excited about. I am currently working on an intimate balm.

I am studying herbs with Paul Robin, who I gave some soap to, as I value his opinion and feedback. He kindly agreed and was happy to try the Zi Cao Gao soap. I was very chuffed when he messaged back to say his hands felt soft and some dry areas had improved. He also felt “it is a good functional healing product”. 

How has COVID affected your practice and did you start this business during a lockdown? If so, what challenges have you faced and what advice would you give to other TCM practitioners who are looking for other ways to make money?

Just before the pandemic started, I was preparing to open my clinic. I had found a suitable venue, had prepared some talks and such to do for the community. Sadly, the pandemic had all but ended my clinic start-up. I couldn’t see clients due to lockdown and had to refer them to practitioners who were using Zoom and remote consultation. This is impossible in my house, we are a large family and far too noisy unless they were family, friends or husbands work clients. For me, Zoom was not an option, maybe in the future (I am an ICT dinosaur …not my forte).

I think it was the boredom from lockdown that gave birth to a range of TCM based soaps and creams. I am usually so busy with studying, CPD courses and taking my son to his training so, the lockdown was a huge blow to us. Suddenly we had nothing to do and nowhere to go, so we both became a little stressed during the first few weeks. I wanted a way to involve him in the herbs and make something functional as part of his education. I also wanted a way to start a business that was enjoyable from the product design and making the product right down to packaging to also involve my son in all aspects if he wanted to be involved. Lockdown gave me that opportunity. We love making things and TCM medicine/herbs so the merging of the two just seemed logical! 

Ai Ye with Charcoal and Oats

Some advice I would give is to find a niche within what you do that you love, then you are never working, rather doing something you enjoy daily. For me, it is making functional products that are designed to help people with skin issues, that are natural and based upon Chinese medicine.

We are flattered that you use Phoenix herbs to make your products – what made you choose Phoenix?

Quality is the most important thing to me when it comes to herbs for making creams and soaps. With Phoenix, I am guaranteed good quality herbs. The fact Phoenix is the only RCHM approved supplier of herbs and concentrated granules in the UK, along with a professional service and herbs that both look and smell great, is the reason I purchase from Phoenix. Great colour and fragrance of the base herbs result in great colour and fragrance of end products – high-quality herbs result in high-quality products. I try my best to create high-quality soaps and balms and always look forward to my herb deliveries and consequent discussions with my son on what we should make. 

He Shou Wu Shampoo Bar

All of the products mentioned, and more, are available to buy on the Herbal Haven Creations Etsy shop.

Have you got a story to tell? Do you use Phoenix products in a new and fun way? We’d love to know! Send your story to marketing@phoenixmd.co.uk.

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