Natural Soaps – The Rupununi Essence Project

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Guyana is blessed with a botanical biodiversity which represents a patrimony of medicines, cosmetics, fragrances and flavours,
colours and other bioactives. The Institute has over the years formulated natural coconut oil liquid and solid soaps which are completely natural and contain supplementary oils that condition skin and cleanse gently, as well as glycerin as a natural byproduct of the saponification reaction.

All soaps are formulated to impart beneficial cosmeceutical properties; they contain fruits, vegetables as well as steam distilled essential oils and natural fragnance oils which contribute aromaterapeutic benefits. DSCF5024


  • Oils used – Coconut, soy, olive and castor oils
  • Bioactive additives – Aloe, citrus peel, coconut milk, cofee, cucumber, honey, papaya, oats, tumeric
  • Essential and natural fragnance oils – Anise, basil, bay, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, thyme




                                                                                                                                                                            Natural Soaps produced by the IAST


A major focus of our MOU with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs and the Ministry of Social Cohesion is a number of collaborations with our Indigenous Peoples, focused on the production of cosmetics, medicines, fragrances and flavours.

Working collaboratively with the Ministries  and the Macushi Research Unit (MRU) and the Medicines from Trees (MFT) organizations, both of the Macushi Peoples of Region 9, the IAST has developed a new line of cosmetic facial cleansers. The cleansers are made from locally produced coconut oil, essential oils of lemongrass (extracted using a steam distillation process at the IAST) and crabwood oil from the Guyana rainforest. 

The product meets all the American Society of the International Association for Testing and Materials (ASTM) for facial soaps, and these tests are conducted at the IAST’s laboratories. IAST developed a branding strategy, packaging, and marketing strategy and business plan for the product, in collaboration with our Macushi colleagues in Region 9. The product was manufactured at the IAST laboratories, and members of the MRU and MFT were trained in the modern preparation and quality control of the product.
On May 9th, 2016, the product was very successfully launched at the Amerindian Village facility, with some 450 attendees.

The product has been a run-away success. A profit of $860, 000 was made through sales at the launch, GuyExpo and at special events such as fashion week held at the Pegasus (all in a period of approximately two weeks). All monies were turned over to the MRU for use as capital for the further production of the product. A promotional video, website, Instagram and Facebook pages were developed by IAST for the product and todate there has been multiple requests from overseas distributors to partner with the MRU and the IAST, including the Body Shop, a major retailer of cosmetics in the United States and Europe.

One December 12, 2016, IAST handed over $1,031,208 to the MRU and the Medicine From Trees group of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB). The sum represented profits from the sale of Rupununi Essence Luxury Facial Cleansers since the last handing over of monies. All production costs, including electricity, labour, raw materials, packaging, marketing, etc., were recovered by the IAST, with 100 percent profits being remitted to the NRDDB.

The Rupununi Essence brand of products, plans to add two new products this year to the facial cleansers already being sold. These will be a massage oil and a facial scrub made from, among other things, the shells of the crabwood.  Furthermore, an overseas-based Guyanese has already approached the NRDDB with the offer to exclusively market the products in the United States, with a minimum guaranteed order of 10,000 units per annum.

The Rupununi Essence website is