‘Kombucha’ of cleansers: Dr.Enzyme eyes SEA expansion on the back of renewed interest in TCM

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Dr.Enzyme is gearing up to expand its brand in South East Asia. ©Dr. Enzyme
Dr.Enzyme is gearing up to expand its brand in South East Asia. ©Dr. Enzyme

Related tags tcm herbal extracts SEA

Singapore-based brand Dr.Enzyme is gearing up to expand its brand in South East Asia as it is seeing renewed interest in traditional Asian health systems like traditional Chinese medicine.

Launched in April this year, Dr.Enzyme describes itself as a “plant enzyme-based soapery” ​and is operated out of Singapore and the US.

It offers a range of personal care products from shampoos to facial cleansers that are based on ancient Chinese medicinal principles.

These products were formulated by Dr Zhou Meiying, a gynaecologist turned Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner.

The basis of the formulations rests on three key fermented botanicals: soapnuts, tea seeds and honeylocust.

Co-founder Chen Xi explained to CosmeticsDesign-Asia​ that these ingredients were long used by the ancient Chinese civilisation before the advent of conventional soaps we know today.

“We want to bring back the ancient, natural way of cleansing inspired by our ancestors, adapted for modern living through liquid soaps and other modern formats.”

Expansion plans

Dr.Enzyme is currently only available in Singapore via its website, e-commerce platform Shopee and four boutique stores.

However, it has recently entered into a partnership that will see the expansion of the brand in the SEA region beginning with Malaysia.

Like many companies, its logistics were affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in the beginning.

Since then, things have returned back to normal, giving the company more confidence in its expansion plans.

Additionally, it is also working to scale up its production as until recently, the company has been hand bottling its products.

“Scaling up is the main priority. We are in the midst of the process and we’re working on how to produce our products more efficiently with the help of some government grants that are available to us,” ​said Chen.

 Ultimately, the company’s goal is to expand into the US and China, said Chen.

“I’m based in the US and I’ve let some people here try the product and they love it. They also respond to our brand story because its something new and interesting. We see opportunities in China as well because it's such a big market.”

A unique spin

The company believes Dr.Enzyme can occupy a unique segment in the market as a brand that builds on modern natural and clean beauty trends with its traditional approach to cleansing.

“You can think of regular cleansing products as [soda drinks] and ours as kombucha. With our star enzymes, they offer more than just cleansing. They can help to balance your microbiome and the idea is to restore your scalp or your skin into its natural healthy state,” ​said Chen.

Chen believes the brand has entered the market at the right time, where traditional Asian practices like TCM and Ayurveda are in the spotlight.

“I believe in our products so much I think no time is the wrong time, but in terms of business and market, I think it’s a good time to launch the brand. In Singapore, younger people are starting to turn to TCM. I think it’s because they are seeing these traditional concepts in the West – for instance, we’re seeing guasha and cupping being adopted by Western brands.”

Furthermore, these trends are being driven by the increased demand for diversity.

“At this time, more people are embracing diversity, they don’t want to see everything so homogenised. It’s about celebrating heritage and it’s a very interesting time for a brand like ours.”

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