During one particularly rough dermatitis outbreak, I found Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream and thought it was, well, magical. It has a magical backstory to go with it, too: the formula of olive oil, honey, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax, bee pollen and Divine Love has apparently been passed down via spirit guidance since ancient Egyptian times to heal any skin condition. Its legions of fans say it works.
Then Emma Pattee, cofounder of Taui, got in touch to tell me about their egyptian balm. Taui utilizes just four ingredients–olive oil, beeswax, honey, and propolis–and differs from Egyptian Magic in two major ways: it’s organic and cruelty-free.
I was surprised when I heard that; I have a tendency to just assume that nice, natural products–especially one that’s made with Divine Love!–are also organic and cruelty-free. But that’s not always the case.
“When I first started working in skincare, I was amazed to learn that skincare and beauty products aren't tested by any kind of governing agency in the U.S.,” Emma tells me. “You can have unlisted ingredients, you can even manipulate how you use the Organic and Cruelty Free labels, you can be a ‘local’ company that buys a pre-made product from China and sells it as a ‘local’ product. Most consumers don't know any of this.”
Additionally, no brand that sells in China can truly be considered cruelty-free. The Chinese government requires animal testing on any beauty and skincare products that enter the country.
I love that Taui offers Egyptian Magic fans an ethical alternative–but, the big question is, does it work?
The star ingredient in Taui is olive oil, one of the oldest and most-beloved skincare ingredients in the world for a reason. It’s moisturizing, rich in antioxidants, and antibacterial–however, it’s not as quick to absorb into the skin as other oils. That’s where the beeswax comes in. In Taui’s formulation, beeswax acts as a barrier between the skin and the outside world, giving olive oil the time it needs to properly sink in and work its, for lack of a better term, magic. The beeswax includes propolis and honey; every single ingredient is organic and cruelty-free.
I’ve been using Taui for a few weeks now, and I even brought it on vacation with me as my in-flight moisturizer. I think I like it more than Egyptian Magic. Taui’s texture is more waxy than oily; and it has a light honey scent, whereas Egyptian Magic smells like straight-up beeswax. Taui also offers a TSA-friendly travel tube–and, really, does it get any better than that?
Read on to discover more about the brand, the ingredients, and the passion behind the product.
ILLUUM: When did you first have the idea for Taui?
Emma: [My cofounder and I] both have been fans of Egyptian balms for years. But what we've seen is that a lot of these balms are using low-quality wax and mass-produced olive oil which reduces the potency of the product. We wanted to make an Egyptian balm using heirloom ingredients, totally handmade, and with a easy-to-use tube.
ILLUUM: Why is it important to you to be cruelty-free?
Emma: At Taui, we believe the issue is so much deeper than animal testing. It's about really knowing what you're putting on your skin. Who makes it? Where is it made? What are the ingredients AND where do they get those ingredients from?
ILLUUM: Can you talk a little bit about each of the ingredients in Taui?
Emma: The main ingredients in Taui are beeswax and olive oil. Combined, these two ingredients form the most effective moisturizer on the planet.
But what makes Taui so special is the quality of the beeswax and olive oil that we put into the product. We are sourcing some of the most natural and unprocessed beeswax available in the U.S. There are similar products available with similar ingredients, but if they're buying bleached beeswax from overseas and giant vats of olive oil, those two ingredients are no longer effective in skincare. Cleopatra wasn't using highly processed beeswax on her face.
ILLUUM: Formulas like this have been around for centuries (supposedly, the ancient Egyptians used a mix like this, right?). Why do you think it has such staying power?
Emma: The mix of beeswax and olive oil is so powerful that once you use it, it becomes a daily staple. I remember the first time I tried an Egyptian balm–15 years ago–and I've been using one everyday since. I also think culturally, we are starting to appreciate heritage ingredients and simple formulas. A product doesn't need to have 15 ingredients to work.