By Natalie Martin
Vasiiliko is a beautiful online shop that was launched last year, stocking products with mastiha as the main natural ingredient.
Chios mastiha (or mastic) is the natural resin that oozes from the trunk and branches of the mastic tree, merging like teardrops. This sticky, thick fluid hardens after about 15 days into irregular crystals of varying shapes and sizes.
Since ancient times, mastiha, exclusively found on the Greek island of Chios, has been renowned for its medicinal and therapeutic values and as an exotic spice.
It is also often referred to as the oldest superfood in the world.
The health benefits of mastiha were initially discovered by Hippocrates and first recorded by Dioscorides, a first-century pharmacologist as he described the positive effects the resin could have on one’s health.
Greek City Times speaks to Vasiiliko founder Vicky Roulis about her fascinating story, which began on the beautiful Greek Island of Chios, and her love affair with mastiha, the ingredient with its Ancient Greek origins that makes her products so special.
How did the idea of Vasiiliko come about and when did you launch your online store?
Vasiiliko was launched last year and the name was derived firstly from my name in Greek, ‘Vasiliki’, and secondly, from my favourite aromatic herb, Basil, widely known for its many health benefits. In February 2013, my dreams and my path started to become clear. I was on a family holiday back in Greece, when I visited the beautiful island of Chios where I had the pleasure of exploring the true depths of mastiha. Chios is the only island in Greece where mastiha is produced. I explored numerous markets and stores in Chios where mastiha was the main ingredient in many products sold including toothpaste, body products, food items and so on. I was blown away by the versatility of this one simple ingredient! I instantly felt compelled to tell the ancient story of mastiha to all that would listen. From this moment, I knew mastiha would be one of the key products that I would base my business.
So, what is mastiha?
Mastiha is the treasured gem of the Aegean, a sweet, clear crystal from the aromatic resin of the Mastic Tree. This tree is extraordinarily rare and only grows in the southern part of the Greek island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean. Mastic has been harvested for at least 2,500 years since Greek Antiquity and is still only exclusively grown on the island of Chios. Mastic sap drops hang from the tree, and sparkle in the sunlight, they are said to resemble crystalline tear-drops; for this reason, the mastic sap is known as the ‘tears of Chios’. Chios mastiha has been recognised as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product by the EU.
Why were you so drawn to mastiha?
Chios mastiha can play an important role in our everyday lives as it exhibits strong antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidization action. I think it’s important in this day and age to focus foremost on our health and to then promote health and balance in our daily lives. We should also become more conscious of our environment and everything we absorb into our bodies.
Tell us about mastiha from Chios and its benefits both for health and for beauty.
Of all the captivating aromatic scents in the world, none is quite like Chios mastiha. The resinous crystal granule comes from the mastic tree. Published scientific research indicates that Chios mastiha exhibits strong antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidation action.
Chios mastiha is known to have many positive health benefits including:
- hygiene of the gastrointestinal system, prevention and treatment of peptic system disorders (such as ulcers and dyspepsia)
- healing of the skin and skin rejuvenation
- beneficial effects on lipids and glucose metabolism
- oral hygiene (contributing to the reduction of plaque formation, elimination of the oral bacteria and strengthening the gums)
Tell us about the products available on your online store.
We have a product range for women as well as a range designed especially for men including products for the face, hair, body, and deodorants. We also have a beautiful collection of mastiha blended candles, inspired by our Greek heritage. Mastiha is a unique, intoxicating and unforgettable natural earth-like scent. Of all the captivating aromatic scents in the world, none is quite like Chios mastiha. Our candles are created with authentically accredited imported Chios mastiha and blended with exotic mixes such as Mediterranean fig, basil, clove, cedar leaf, basil and frankincense and various finely selected natural fragrances and essential oils.
What makes the products from Chios so special?
Mastiha, the legendary healing balm from ancient Greece is the ingredient that makes our products so special. Many beauty products being sold today commonly use synthetic compounds such as silicones (which accumulate on the skin and hair), mineral oils (which block the pores) and parabens, propylene glycol, ethanolamines and ammonia (all linked to skin allergies and irritations). However, the “Mastic Spa Range” uses natural ingredients from Greece’s inexhaustible flora. Its herbs and plant extracts are endowed with pharmaceutical properties, food components and essential oils, and it was these that I was drawn to.
Are the candles made here or in Chios and can you please tell us more about those?
I’ve partnered up with my beautiful friend Sophia and we have collectively, created four mastiha Candles. These are all inspired by our Greek heritage, taking us back to our childhood memories of our mothers grounding the mastiha with a mortal and pestle, filling our homes with this unique, intoxicating and unforgettable natural earth-like scent. Our candles are created with authentically accredited imported Chios mastiha and blended with exotic mixes such as Mediterranean fig, basil, clove, cedar leaf and frankincense and various finely selected natural fragrances and essential oils. To preserve the integrity of the candles we hand pour, hand wick and hand wrap in small batches.
What are a few of your favourite products and why?
For me, I religiously use everything which is available on my Vasiiliko online store, so I’m basically mastiha from top-to-bottom! I use everything but I do love the Shampoo/Conditioner as it gives my hair a shine and feels clean, light & fresh. Every morning, I love the metamorphosis cream and then use the BB Cream which has the SPF 15 includes a light tint thus, eliminating the need to use heavy foundations and allowing my skin to breathe. I feel the creams remove the greyness out of my skin and brings back a natural glow.
What have been your best sellers so far?
So far, the Mastiha BB Cream, Mastiha & Argan Oil for body/hair and our beautiful handmade mastiha candles.
Are your products available worldwide or only Australia wide?
Whilst these products are globally available, I’m the sole distributor within Australia. Also, our mastiha candles are Australian-made using all local oils with the exception of Chios mastiha being the only imported ingredient.
Will you be stocking more products soon and if so, can you please tell us about them.
Absolutely! I am mostly stocking the Mastiha & Argan range for spring/summer however, I will soon be extending the range with a Mastiha & Wine collection. This combination is amazingly divine as wine is a natural anti-oxidant and the range covers hair, face and body. In addition, I will also be launching an amazing and special mastiha liqueur and sparkling water so stay tuned!
*Red Dress and Cuff is worn by Vicky Roulis, by Greek designers and imported by Greek Style Council
*Photography of Vicky Roulis, by Alison Laird