The Langkawi Island Beachside Café Conversation about Natural Shampoo

It turns out that old adage is true: “oil and water do not mix” – they form an emulsion! I am sitting in a beachside café, drinking coffee on a gorgeous sunny afternoon with founder Paul Penders. He is explaining to me that as the pace of life has increased dramatically the world over and competitors began to put out “lather, rinse, and go” shampoo brands, people stopped buying “non-emulsified” products to their detriment.
 
I look at him a bit bewildered. What does he mean? What’s wrong with a quick wash-and-go? And what does this fascinating word, emulsification, mean precisely? As soon as I can get home to my computer, I google “emulsifiers.”

    “In what I call ‘non-emulsified shampoos,’ “ Paul says, “you shake them to use, and then the oil immediately starts separating. Then the oil begins to cling to the hair. If you use emulsifiers, the natural oils are stripped away.”

I start to understand. Like that popular tropical drink – a Tequila Sunrise – liquids of different weights tend to form layers which you have to stir or shake to get them to mix. Stir them up and walk away; in a while, they will separate into layers again. Sort of like what happens to my coffee when the milk is curdled.
 
Make a vinaigrette — pour water or vinegar and some kind of oil into a bottle — and shake. What happens? Scientists say that shaking breaks up two ‘immiscible’ (non-mixing) liquids into droplets that “statistically distribute” themselves throughout the bottle.


    Oil and water do not mix without using an emulsifier

Add an ‘emulsifier’ and the mixed liquid will stay together as an ‘emulsion.’ But if you do not add an emulsifier, then the liquids will start to move apart again – the heavier ones towards the bottom, the lighter ones floating on top.
 
So what does the emulsifier really do?
 
It gravitates to the border where the oil and water or air and water meet and reduces the surface tension so they can’t separate, thereby stabilizing the whole solution so it stays mixed. We hear a lot about ‘emulsified’ foods, creams, lotions, and shampoos. Is this just a fancy term or does it means something for your health and beauty?
 
Paul tells me that way back in 1984 Paul Penders International began when he started using a non-emulsified shampoo formulation invented by his grandmother. His hair salon customers loved it for years – until “Hurry!” became the watchword of modern life.
 
In order to give shampoos a long shelf life, commercial manufacturers add emulsifiers – usually detergents or ‘emulsifying waxes.’  These break up oil into droplets indiscriminately – both the oils in the shampoo and the natural oils in your hair. Every time you use an emulsified shampoo, your hair gets stripped of the natural oils that your body produces to protect it.
 
Emulsifiers also form chemical bonds to oils and water, preventing them from attaching to other things – like your hair. They dilute the oils and other nutrients in the shampoo which might be good for your hair – and the result is most of the ‘good things’ are just washed away in the rinse water. Seems like such a waste of money!
 
On the other hand — taking Paul’s point — if only people were willing to take an extra minute to shake up a non-emulsified shampoo (like Paul’s grandmother’s formula), then natural oils would be retained. The added herbals and oils in the shampoo would cling to the hair, making it healthier and giving it greater body and sheen. Shake! Lather-rinse-and-go!

    That was then.
    See what is now …
    and what will be next!!

     

Paul Penders International’s Research & Development team works overtime – the company is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the products. Some years ago, Paul Penders scientists found a gentle emulsifier that doesn’t strip the hair to add to the acclaimed Paul Penders shampoo – keeping up with the times.
 
Paul Penders R&D is currently at work on a new shampoo based on the old formulation. What’s new is research into the chemistry and uses of indigenous tropical plants as well as studies of the traditional health and beauty practices of the native peoples of Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
 
In the coming months, you’ll be hearing more about this exciting research and how tropical flowers, herbs, and fruits, and other plants will be used to enhance Paul Penders shampoos and other beauty products in the line. Stay tuned to this blog!
 
By Teviot Fairservis.
 

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Meeting Intriguing People

Simple living and simply being honest – living by a few simple principles so that we can live our lives to their fullest.  How ‘simple is simple,’ one can ask? I think that the beauty of life lies in simplicity — the simple joys of friendship, love, commitment, and most of all, respect. In regards to this, I like meeting new and exciting people — ones who can change the course of our own life for the better. Again, by ‘simple simpleness.’
 
Last year, my most impressive meeting with someone new was encountering Mr. Gary Goldschneider in person. He is not only an accomplished American classical pianist, but also one of world’s best astrologers — and lives in Amsterdam.
 
I bought several of his books in San Francisco some 25 years ago. They are available in bookstores worldwide. Since he was giving a piano recital in Amsterdam and I wanted to know more about him, I decided to take the plane from Asia all the way to Europe in order to see him perform rather than just listening to his CDs.
 
As it happened; I had a wonderful opportunity to meet him. Actually after the concert he came up to me and asked me a few questions. He looked me straight in the eyes and suddenly something like a light went on – like an instant connection – or whatever we want to call it. Mr. Goldschneider and I became friends. He invited me for dinner at his Amsterdam home. And I am proud to announce here he has been invited to perform by the Penang Art Community, in Malaysia.
 
Last week I met with Doctor Rahman, a professional healer of alternative and local Malay medicine who has studied in Australia and other countries. He lives in Ipoh which is in Malaysia in the State of Perak – a truly mountainous area where you can find indigenous peoples still living according to the old beliefs of centuries ago. They live amidst trees, plants and waterfalls which they believe have healing properties.
 
I have invited him to come to Langkawi to show him what we do and share some plans I have for new products using herbs and waters coming from the Perak mountains and communities. I had that same feeling of connection when meeting him and right away I knew that this is a contact forever.
 
Actually he reminded me of my dear friend Dr. Ab Steyn in Holland who was a famous natural healer who people from all over Europe used to consult. I am sure that in a way Ab brought me to Dr. Rahman. I know by heart that something good will come from it.

Then last month I met Teviot Fairservis, a most interesting American woman living on Langkawi UNESCO Geopark Island, the same as me.  Only a few Americans happen to live in Langkawi and they seem to be perfectly delighted with this wonderful and unique environment. As I am myself American (but Dutch born), I was eager to meet Teviot after I discovered that she writes for www.langkawi-gazette.comI was stunned by a great article about our magical island.
 
We had coffee in her apartment near the beach, together with her 2 cats. It was very pleasant and I connected very well with her. She is truly intelligent, a great organizer and has a professional background in non-profit administration.  She has a great sense of humor!  I wondered even more about what an American woman alone would be seeking by living in this beautiful paradise located on the other side of the world. I got my answer and much more than I bargained for.
 
To keep it short…..
Teviot agreed to be one of our writers.

 
She will handle the Paul Penders blog and will start doing research on local herbs and natural cosmetics related with what we do and represent on this beautiful Langkawi island. Actually her first article will appear on the Paul Penders blog very soon about one of my first products which I developed some 40 years ago — the “non-emulsified shampoo”–  which we are considering bringing back in its same simple form as it was decades ago!
 
Meeting wonderful people is exciting and actually very simple and truly can enrich our lives. To me it is the perfect example of ongoing learning and a way to gain more happiness. While trying to lessen my own ego each day, I wonder often at the beauty of life, love, and the cultivation of respect – the simple things.
 
    

The Realm of Meaningful Silence

By Kamila Delart.
 
Following the fast-paced Western rhythm, our sight is directed at the horizons. We crave freedom, want to spread our wings, explore, conquer But as we shift our focus outwards, and detach from our core, we cut ourselves off a powerful source of wisdom and inner peace.
 
The Eastern philosophies always understood that in order to experience true happiness, we need to be anchored in our lives, consciously seeking moments of stillness so we can enter into an inner dialogue with ourselves. But raised in a different culture, it is not easy to enter the realm of this meaningful silence. Unless you visit the Furusato Spa
 
As it is custom I take off my shoes prior to entering the Spa. And with Furusato meaning ORIGINS, feeling my bear feet touch the ground seems to have something sacred to it.

Savouring a spicy ginger tea with red sugar, and inhaling the earthy scent of sandalwood, I look through the menu: Nerita, Teraba, Murex Angel Curious about the unusual words, I turn to the Spa Owner, Alan Loh. He indicates to a low display table in front of me, explaining that the spa packages were named after the delicate seashells I am looking at. To honour the ocean whose depths symbolize the wisdom within.
 
A short moment later I enter the treatment room – and I am mesmerized! A cave-like chamber lit by just a few sunrays, illuminating an intricate stone relief that takes up the entire front wall. As I learn later, a local artist, Ah Ben, spent three months carving the Buddha’s enlightened face. Immersed in meditation, he played with every little detail, breathing inch by inch life into the rough granite stone.
 
As I lay down, Shina, my therapist, begins to slowly apply a rich creamy blend containing cinnamon, turmeric, clove and black pepper. Rubbing the fragrant paste in a circular motion into my skin, I feel an unusual heat flow throughout my body, drawing out accumulated toxins, making me pure from inside-out. To sooth the glow, Shina applies a cooling cucumber mixture, wrapping me into a comforting cocoon before leaving the room.
 
It’s just me and the Buddha now. Looking at each other through the veil of tiny water streams slowly flowing down his face. Washing away anything that is superfluous in life. Exposing the very core of our being… Just underneath the Buddha’s chin there is a stone. Molded over time by the dripping water into a heart shape. What message could be more powerful?
 
As Shina returns, I enjoy a traditional Malay Massage. Her hands move gently from the centre of my body towards my extremities, following the rhythm of soft spiritual music, rocking me into a trance-like sleep.
 
And while my eyes are closed, my mind drowsy, and my body melting underneath Shina’s touch, the image of the Buddha does not get blurred. The tranquillity and all-encompassing love he exudes could not be more present. Within this chamber, within myself

An hour later, I stretch myself out in a rustic wooden well filled with warm water. I play with the rose petals that float around me, listen to the calming sound of a waterfall, and allow the refreshing fragrance of kefir lime to slowly wake me up, bringing me back to reality. Then again – the word ‘back’ seems misplaced. Feeling grounded and entirely at peace with myself, the reality of now does not resemble in the slightest the one I experienced when I opened the door of the Furusato Spa two hours ago
 
As published in Langkawi-gazette
 

 
 
 
 
    

The Essence

By Kamila Delart.
 
When I walk through the tropical garden towards the Sun Spa, following a path framed with oblong ponds mirroring the tropical palms and the frangipani trees growing above, I’m really excited! Three hours of indulgence! What a treat Especially as the package includes a professional cosmetology treatment my face seems to be in dear need of.

While I enjoy the refreshing chilled lime juice, and soak my feet in a rustic wooden barrel with orchids and frangipani flowers floating on the water surface, Jason, the Spa Receptionist, presents me with a lovely tray containing samples of body scrubs and massage oil blends to select from.
 
With a small amount applied on the back of my hand, I feel the texture and smell the fragrance, very much inclined to choose the Sea Salt Body Scrub infused with the delicious essence of Lemon Grass. But noticing my slightly sunburned skin, Jason thoughtfully advises that I opt for the coconut-rice exfoliant instead as it will be much gentler to my delicate skin.
 
As for the massage oil, my immediate winner is the Tamarind blend. Anti-inflammatory, and an excellent source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, it promises to sooth my irritated skin, while the divine aroma is hard to resist.

Escorted by my therapist, Minah, to the ‘treatment room’, my initial enthusiasm temporarily wavers. Usually frequenting five star resort spas, finding myself in a small cabin shielded from the next treatment bed only by a curtain drape, and realizing that I will have to move to another room dedicated to wet-therapies to enjoy my body treatment, does not necessarily match my expectations. But I reckon it’s too late to change my mind, so I dutifully fold my clothes into a small basket, and lay down on the massage bed. Looking back – a brilliant decision!
 
It’s hard to comment on my massage as Minah’s gentle caring touch managed to lull me to sleep after only a few minutes. The ‘feared’ transition to another room is surprisingly smooth. Located just opposite my current room, I pretty much sleepwalk the few steps, and before I know it, Minah begins to apply a smooth and luscious coconut-rice body polish, repeatedly reassuring herself, that the pressure is light enough on my slightly sunburned skin.
 
A cooling body wrap with banana leaves completes the body treatment experience. Letting a stream of warm water reveal the silky skin of a newborn, I spontaneously decide to wash my hair. Although a multipurpose body & hair product is available, Minah rushes out to bring me a cherry shampoo, insisting that it is much more suitable for my fine European hair.
 
And then comes the highlight!

The eagerly anticipated facial.
 
While I do like the natural facial pampering with cucumber and yogurt, the daily sun exposure and high moisture climate left their marks over the last few months. So I really need a professional cosmetology care, helping me with congested pores and slight pigmentation resulting from being careless when it comes to diligent sun screen application.
 
Although my skin tends to be rather oily, my cheeks are for some reason very sensitive, reacting to most of the product I ever tried. So as usual, I advise my therapist to leave this area out. (A recommendation, most of the aestheticians in the past followed).
 
But Minah is determined to provide me with a complete experience, insisting that she will personalize my treatment, applying on my cheeks a product specially developed for sensitive skin, a whitening serum on my forehead to alleviate any discoloration, and deeply purifying products on the rest of my face, while employing the vacuum machine to thoroughly cleanse my pores. And it works!

Resting upon the mask application, I close my eyes, just to be surprised by an unexpected sound. Although my hair is meanwhile half dry, Minah made the effort to organize a blow-dryer, and is now gently caressing my scalp, and running her fingers through my hair to smooth it out.
 
Half an hour later, as I wait in a neighbouring restaurant for my dinner to arrive, James Kok, the owner of Sun Spa, approaches me, asking about my experience, and handing me a little bag, mentioning that I seem to have forgotten my jewellery. Too relaxed to remember, I look inside to find my nose ring, artfully draped on a tiny cardboard with the Sun Spa’s Logo. Too overwhelmed to speak

Able to collect my thoughts only once I am in my car on the way home, I am reflecting upon this unusual Spa visit that forces me as a Spa Professional to question the general concept of an outstanding Spa experience which is increasingly associated with the provision of extensive wellness facilities and breath-taking interior design.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I do love to indulge in exclusive treatments provided in a lavish five star environment. But although thrilled by sensory ambiance, and impressed by extensive treatment offerings provided by internationally trained therapists, everything really comes down to the essence, doesn’t it?
 
We may be too self-conscious to articulate our deepest desires. But if we did not censor ourselves, would we not book a spa appointment saying: ‘Please, make me feel special! Let the world revolve around me and my needs. Just for these few hours
 
As published in Langkawi-gazette
 

 
 
 
 
    

Nourishing The Soul…

By Kamila Delart.
 
Lost in time and space before the actual Spa experience even begins. Under the spell of the breathtaking view from the relaxation lounge of the ‘Sanctuary Spa’
 
With my calendar bursting with appointments, one idea triggering the next, unleashing an avalanche of thoughts that I struggle to control, my brain never seems to take a break. However soaking my feet in a flower bath, sipping a delicious cinnamon tea, taking in the magic unfolding in front of me, everything slows down.

I watch the turquoise waves of the Andaman Sea breaking against the primordial rocks on the shore, smoothing time after time their once rough surfaces. The juicy green of the surrounding jungle captures the vital power of life. And there is a butterfly playfully twirling in the air.
 
So carefree, living in the moment. The wooden logs of the lift chamber, rooted in the earth, and pointing to the infinite sky, seem to be connecting the both poles our souls crave. I have arrived. Not only at the Sanctuary Spa, but deep within myself
 
The soothing symphony of the ocean begins to blend with an unusual hum. Initially barely audible, the sound deepens, filling the entire space with a subtle vibration of a Tibetan Bowl. Turning my head to identify the source, I see behind a glass wall a group of young women sitting in a circle, with their eyes closed, and their right hands placed upon their hearts.
 
Noticing my curiosity, the Receptionist explains that the Spa Therapists begin each day with a meditation, and she spontaneously invites me to join them. And so I find myself in the lotus pose, following instructions given in a soft singing voice by Pat Wright, the loving owner of the Sanctuary Spa.
 
Imagining a vibrant red, I activate my root-chakra, and begin to feel grounded, visualize the colour indigo to refine my intuition by connecting with my third-eye chakra, gradually opening the seven energy centers within my body. The session is completed by gentle stretches that not only relax our bodies but also sharpen the awareness of our physical needs.
 
The wonderful Signature Ritual begins with a ‘Traditional Malay Massage’. The therapist gently applies rich almond oil infused with the sensual essence of geranium. Working with rhythmical palm press strokes the length of my muscles, and employing elbows to untangle the tight knots in my shoulders I tend to develop when spending too much time in front of my laptop, I can literally feel my body relax under her loving touch.
 
I then enjoy a bath ritual. The floating aromatic blossoms cover my entire body, so when I notice a monkey curiously watching me through the window, I don’t really mind. Finding myself on the treatment bed again, I receive a healing Reiki session given personally by Pat.
 
Channelling the universal life force energy to attune me to a higher vibratory level, she alternates her technique from touching me to her hands floating two inches above my body. But when I close my eyes, it’s hard to tell the difference as her hands exude astonishing heat. I’m not exactly sure what sensation to look for, but once the treatment is concluded, I feel re-charged and invigorated.

The Signature Ritual is completed by a scrumptious culinary experience at the ‘Terrace’, the resort’s open-air restaurant on the rocks. Feeling entirely at peace, enjoying the refreshing breeze, and savouring buttered king prawns with fried rice flavored with salt-cured mackerel bits, lemon grass, ginger flower and the Chef’s signature blend of indigenous herbs, I’m trying to put my finger on what made this spa experience so special.
 
The breathtaking view?
 
The delicious meal?
 
Surely unforgettable parts of the journey. But it is the image of the therapist immersed in meditation that does not get out of my mind. With Pat being a healer herself, she understands that when nourishing the souls of her therapists, they will be able to pass to their guests a pure, loving energy. And that’s exactly what happened
 
As published in Langkawi-gazette