While washing my hands at my friend Ravi’s Californian country house last summer, I noticed a subtle but calming scent. As I reached for a towel, I saw a tiny jam jar open on the countertop. I inhaled, then read the label: Do Bandar Kokum Butter. I was intrigued.
What I had uncovered was an organic foot softener (Rs150, about £1.50) made with cocoa butter, virgin coconut oil, lemongrass extract and the aforementioned butter of the kokum tree, which I have since learnt produces fist-size fruit loaded with antioxidants. “Smooth a layer around your heels and ankles, then slip on socks and sleep,” said Ravi. “It’s a magic potion.”
Even my perennially dry, cracked soles have succumbed to the balm’s curative powers, and I have since become slightly obsessed with this Bangalore-based brand started by two school friends. The duo started making soaps a few years ago and the range now includes hair, body and spa products. Free from parabens, sulphates or other harmful chemicals, they are all handmade in small batches, using traditional methods that trace their origins to ancient Ayurvedic and royal Mughal recipes.
In my Do Bandar order, the Calming Basil Bath Oil (about £3.80 for 50g) became an instant favourite, as did the ultra-refreshing Honeysuckle Soap (about £3 for 100g), which I knew from the website to be anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. The utterly scrummy Citrus Sugar Scrub (about £3.80 for 150g) is a grainy mixture of virgin coconut oil and cane sugar, with extracts of lemon, orange and grapefruit, as well as coffee bean. As someone who has long mocked product descriptions that claim to “uplift the senses”, I can honestly say this scrub did exactly that, while sloughing off the flaky top layer of my travel-weary epidermis.
I am pleased to report that Do Bandar’s pet products made an equally delightful impression, at least on me. I’m not sure whether my Maltipoo feels especially uplifted after I bathe him with Conditioning Pet Soap (about £1.50 for 100g), made with aloe vera, lemongrass and neem, but he certainly smells much better.