Metro Man & Metro Home

By Bir Ganguly

Remember that table from high-school – all the light metals near one corner, the heavy metals towards the bottom end, the gases on one side – or were they in the middle? Anyway, who cares? I just found out about a new periodic table, and it is much more interesting than that old dinosaur. It is citrusy in one corner, minty in the other, spicy in the middle. This is the periodic table of essential oils!

It all started with an installation for a conceptual piece on obsessive-compulsive hand washing. “In a Perfect World” was meant to capture the inevitability of dirt and germs in our daily lives. To do this, artist Timothy Bahash was casting common objects which one cannot avoid touching over the course of a normal day – doorknobs, currency and the like – but he was creating them out of soap!

“Art begins all things,” says Bahash, “Inventions from the printing press to the computer all began as concepts, and social movements too begin with an idea that later coalesces into something larger than the idea itself.”

In doing his research for the project, Bahash became aware of the fact that most bath and body products are made from chemical and animal by-products. This was not a happy bit of information for someone who had been a vegetarian for 14 years. In fact, it was a direct assault on his belief system. He felt betrayed by the labels and all the abracadabra on them. As we know, artists are sensitive, reactionary people. So how did he react? He founded 4mula.

To start with, he locked himself up in his kitchen. The kitchen started looking more like a laboratory every day. There, Bahash put himself to some serious research and experimentation on naturally occurring oils. Horticulturist, Erick Rexrode, stepped in at this point. As Bahash played with the blending of the 4mulae, Rexrode grew botanical specimens of the oil-producing plants to observe their properties in their natural environment.

So how did the table come about? Bahash explains – “I instinctively organize things within larger systems to gain a deeper understanding of them in context. The periodic table functions as an intuitive blending tool, which allows me to visualize and project the aromatherapeutic outcome of any given essential oil or blend.”

The table helped Bahash to sort out the “natural order” of these oils in a property- and utility-specific way and design the 4mulae.

What are these 4mulae he came up with?

There are four of them – 4mula 101 through 4mula104. Each is an exclusive blend of essential oils designed to promote optimism, energy, calmness, or concentration. The various physiological and emotional effects of a particular 4mula range from normalizing skin problems and banishing depression to soothing sinuses and inspiring creative thinking. It all depends on the specific essential-oil molecular blend for a particular 4mula. For instance, 4mula 103 contains Moroccan chamomile, bergamot, and clary sage essential oils and is useful in settling the nervous system, reducing inflammation, relieving skin irritations, and promoting restful sleep. To find the right 4mula for you, you need to go to the lab and play with the interactive table.

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4mula 103 botanicals and products

The line offers certain staple products – the Bodywash, the Bodypolish and the Barbox, that are available in each of the four 4mulae. Additionally, there are some 4mula-specific products.

Sugarglo comes packed with 4mula 101. The exfoliant sugar gently removes dead skin cells and acts as a natural humectant to absorb and retain moisture. Freshly exposed skin cells are flushed with water and layered with the freshening properties of 4mula 101.

Exfoliation with Saltglo increases circulation by stimulating the flow of oxygen throughout the bloodstream. Skin cells open up and take a deep breath while 4mula 102 clears the air around and opens up the respiratory system. Oxygenated from inside and out, the skin is ready to receive the vitamins and minerals of Saltglo.

Hydraceme is the chosen product for 4mula 103. The rich shea butter based cream is a highly effective hydrating product. It is ideal as an after-bath, pre-bed treatment for dry skin to lock in moisture, as you ease into a deep restful sleep – thanks to 4mula 103.

Catalyst, imbued with the warmth of 4mula 104, contains nine penetrative oils to deliver a forceful dose of vitamins, minerals and free-radical fighting antioxidants. It is suitable for multiple uses – as an all-over body varnish, as a spot treatment to relieve skin from shaving or dryness, as an aromatherapeutic bath additive or as massage oil.

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4mula-specific products

All 4mula ingredients are 100% natural and rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins from bio-available plant sources. In addition, they are vegan, never tested on animals, and contain no animal by-products.

4mula’s innovation and dedication to combine the science of cleaning with social consciousness go beyond just the products. The commitment can be seen in its packaging, designed to maximize product life and minimize post-consumer waste. Products come in lab-grade, re-usable bottles with removable labels.

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A portion of the profits from every 4mula purchase is donated to humanitarian efforts such as homeless shelters, health services, soup kitchens, and humane societies. According to Bahash, philanthropy, service, business, art, design – they all share a common problem-solving process. “Whether it is re-inventing a bar of soap or re-envisioning the world we live in, the most important thing is to believe it can be done. Because there is always a better way.”

The artist still breathes in Timothy Bahash.

For more information or to purchase products, visit www.4mula.com or call 215.413.1300. 4mula products are also available at Bigelow Chemists located at 414 6th Ave. in West Village.

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Originally published April 2005
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