As we browsed through the Mother’s Day exhibition at the Fish Garden in Zamalek, the beautifully shaped bath and body products of Spa Rena caught our eye. Unlike other homemade products, they looked very appealing and professional. Clearly, a lot of attention and care were poured into the final product. We contacted owner and founder Rena Alatrebi for more information.
Originally, Alatrebi is a Nuclear Medicine and Psychology major. She graduated from the University of Iowa and has recently moved back to Egypt.
“It started out with my own need for a quality product that didn’t include all the fillers, carcinogens and irritants at a reasonable price. I didn’t want to be paying for the packaging or the brand names, I was more interested in the ingredient list. So I started researching and reading anything and everything I could get my hands on related to skin care and all the different active ingredients,” Alatrebi said.
After extensive research and with the help of her background as a science major, Alatrebi began to make some headway. “I finally came up with a simple lotion recipe for my own personal use. I later gave one to my sister and to my friends, who loved it, and that’s how it all got started. What I’ve learned is just a fraction of what’s out there; I’m still learning every day,” she said.
She also attributes the need to be creative to her family, whom she describes as artistic: “The shapes, colours, scents and sizes of different soaps naturally drew me in. That, along with the desire to make something that was good for you, produced my first soap recipe. After many trials and errors and several batches of soap thrown away I started getting good at it.” From that moment, she became addicted to the creation of homemade bath and body products.
She is also very particular about the ingredients she put in the products. “I wanted to create soaps and products where I could back up every single ingredient that went into them, why it’s there and where it came from. To do so I felt more comfortable resourcing most of my ingredients from the US. Even though some supplies are available here, and resourcing them from abroad incurs extra shipping and custom costs, it’s worth the extra cost knowing they are authentic, pure and FD & C approved,” Alatrebi stated.
So, what makes Spa Rena different from other homemade cosmetics? “We make our soap from scratch. The majority of the rest do what we know in the business as ‘melt and pour’ soap, where you purchase a block of melt and pour soap – made mostly of various chemicals and detergents, melt it, add fragrance, colour, and a few additives then re-pour it into various shaped moulds and label it as ‘all natural, handmade’. I prefer being in control of every single ingredient that goes in my products,” Alatrebi said.
Several of Spa Rena’s products are quite popular, including the 100% olive oil soap, the cocoa and shea butter, and the acne face soap with tea tree oil and activated charcoal.
All Spa Rena products are free of sulphate, formaldehyde, parabens and carcinogens. Alatrebi is also working on a shampoo line that will be sulphate-free. Currently, she conducts her business through the Facebook page Spa Rena and flea markets.