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A Collection of Soaps – By PS. Cafe

By Guan Tan

 
 

It was last November when Boston-based beauty label, Fresh, opened doors to a bakery and cafe. Both the skin care line and its accompanying bakery shared one philosophy – fresh ingredients. It's easy to see how all-natural beauty brands are venturing into food, especially with the rise of food in skin care.

What's exciting is the converse – restaurants leaping into the beauty industry. Homegrown PS. Cafe has been around for 17 years, and its astronomical rise in Singapore has cemented itself a place in our national identity. Last month, the restaurant group unveiled a series of three botanical hand and body soaps. 

A common thread runs through both PS. Cafe's foods and soaps – "comforting", co-founder Peter Teo explains. 

"Our food tends to be comforting and familiar," Teo continues. In the eight months of research and development for his soaps, Teo tried to encapsulate the sense of comfort diners enjoy at his restaurants. 

"It wasn't that dissimilar to our approach in our food R&D. While we created three scents that are distinct and different, they had to fulfil the olfactory equivalent of 'yumminess'." 

Teo likened the bathroom experience of washing your hands to "satiating your craving for... let's say a plate of signature PS. Truffle Fries." 

PS. Cafe
 

The three soaps are named after time – 9.30 hours is a rousing blend of citrus notes like grapefruit and blackcurrant, accompanied by familiar ingredients from the PS. Cafe menu – rhubarb and clove bud. A mellow, comforting tinge of geranium and magnolia sums the morning. 

4.31 hours is a stronger blend of fig nectar, spearmint, cucumber, alongside a heady maple syrup, tonka bean, and bergamot. 

11.52 hours is a romantic sensory experience – spices, fruits, cardamom, saffron, raspberry, amber, frankincense, and guaiac wood. 

To us, soaps and food are unrelated poles. Yet, to Teo, soaps flank the dining experience. "If you look at a meal as a sum of parts – before, during and after – then it's not such a stretch that the ritual of washing our hands before and after a meal can be considered very much a part of that dining experience." 

The primary function of these soaps was to complete the PS. Cafe diners' experience. But Teo has also realised "that our guests have been requesting to take away an element of PS with them... Through the power of olfactory scent, our fine soaps not only act as a nice reminder of their time at our cafe, but they inevitably last longer than any takeaway food."

Teo developed the three soaps with "French perfumer Philippe Barberousse who is based in Singapore." An acute sense of smell and palate is pivotal to every chef. Same for the perfumers. "He's a wonderfully gifted nose." 

Barberousse and Teo met on several occasions to set the stage for these scents. The perfumer eventually reduced all these ideas into a slim list of ingredients. 

When asked which soap Teo is personally using, he laughed, "That's a little like asking a parent which is their favourite child!" In all his replies, Teo couldn't stray away from food. "In honesty, just like food, there are some days you feel like a salad and other days when a burger hits the spot." 

PS. Cafe's soaps are available at S$49, at all PS. Cafe outlets from September 2017 onwards.
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