Love Your Family with Hug: Thailand’s Eco-Friendly Daily Skin Care Products You Can Trust

15 January 2024

by Bryan Yong

Hug sells healthy and eco-friendly daily skin care products in Thailand. Hug’s pioneering founder Numpeung shares how Hug’s products are healthy, sustainable, and born out of love.

We rarely see companies declare in their products every ingredient and also only 95- 100% natural origin ingredients. It’s even rarer we see businesses encourage customers to reuse product packaging to save the environment. However, EcoCupid found a brand that is both sustainable and produces healthy natural products.

Meet Hug Organic Company Limited, or Hug for short, Thailand’s pioneer in a quiet revolution in natural and environmentally friendly daily care products. Hug’s visionary founder is a young woman named Pamornrat Panrattanapong (Numpeung). Her 10-year journey, deeply rooted in familial love and a commitment to sustainability, unfolds as she shares her triumphs and challenges exclusively with EcoCupid.

“In English, Hug is the best way to express love. When we hug, we can give and take at the same time,” says Numpeung, whose Thai nickname translates to the word ‘honey’.

Numpeung started Hug as a series of pop-up stores in 2013, eventually expanding to online stores and dedicated retail centers. She created the brand based on her idea to spread love to her family. Photo courtesy of Hug.

Numpeung’s sweet demeanor extends to her family, which she holds dearly till today. Hug in Thailand’s Isan dialect means love. Hug products are designed to take care of her family members while also taking care of her customers’ family members.

Numpeung also extends her warm hug to the environment. Hug supports Thai organic and natural ingredients in its products. She gives back to nature by reducing synthetic chemicals that enter it while taking from nature simultaneously.

Hug ensures that every work process, from farm to customer, to create its products is sustainable. Photo courtesy of Hug.

The Synthetic Chemical Problem

The pervasive use of synthetic chemicals in daily-use products, ranging from skincare items to household cleaners, poses a dual threat to ecosystems and human health. These chemicals have been associated with adverse effects such as skin irritation, allergies, and endocrine disruption in humans. Furthermore, once these chemicals are washed off into the environment, some of these chemicals have been found to persist and accumulate in the food chain, further threatening aquatic life and ecosystems.

For example, phthalates are found in products ranging from lotions, facial cleaners, and floor cleaners, to dishwashing liquids. They are known endocrine disruptors and have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues, even in Thailand. According to Hug’s website, they never use these chemicals in their products.

A Family Love Affair with Hug

Rooted in her background in Food Science, Numpeung worked as an R&D expert with the biggest food factory in Thailand. It helped her learn about making new formulas and surveying the market.

One MBA later, she began to realize that running a social enterprise allows her to take care of the well-being of her family and the planet while doing business.

Numpeung wants to take good care of her grandmother through the products she makes at Hug. Photo courtesy of Hug.

“I can do the business that I can take care of myself, and my family, and also can help to solve social problems too,” says Numpeung who wants Hug to consciously minimize chemicals and reduce packaging waste.

Growing up with her extended family of 10 people, Numpeung’s inspiration to start Hug came during nerve-wracking family visits to the doctor. What if natural products can keep her grandparents safe from health issues? For Numpeung, maintaining and protecting her family’s health starts with food and everyday products. Hence, Hug was born.

Hug’s Love-Fueled Product Line

In the spirit of familial care, Hug offers a diverse range of everyday and home care products, including shower gel, body lotion, shampoo, anti-bug mist spray, washing liquid, floor cleaner, and dishwashing liquid. Her favorite Hug product is the shower gel made with Jasmine rice from Surin province, Thailand.

This particular shower gel uses Surin Hom Mali rice, specifically the White Jasmine 105 and RD15 heirloom varieties, which are known to be super fragrant and only authentic if grown in Surin. These rice varieties are cultivated through unique cultures and techniques, including raising elephants in farming work.

Numpeung learns from rice farmers from Northeastern Thailand how to grow crops for her products organically. Photo courtesy of Hug.

When asked whether had her family members been using Hug’s products and felt healthier, Numpeung replied excitedly and full of glee. Sharing how her family is the first group to test Hug’s products, she emphasizes the importance of creating formulas safe for her mom, who battled cancer. Inspired by her dad who likes to do gardening, she recently developed an anti-bug mist spray that’s made of natural ingredients but also doesn’t kill the mosquitoes.

After 10 years, Hug’s product line is still committed to providing solutions for sensitive skin. Numpeung is currently pregnant and she wants to create a formula that’s safe for her upcoming baby. 

What It Takes to be Eco-Friendly

Hug uses eco-friendly packaging and is transparent about its supply chain. They also collaborate with organic farmers and local growers all across Northeastern and Northern Thailand, who do not use synthetic pesticides.

Hug acknowledges their farmer-suppliers by paying them fair prices and even offering to buy from farmers living in remote places deep in Thailand’s mountainous North, where logistics becomes difficult but the ingredients are pure from chemicals.

Hug works closely with farmers who practice organic farming for her ingredients. Photo courtesy of Hug.

Most importantly, Hug’s products do not use harmful synthetic chemicals like colorants, and harmful preservatives known to be detrimental to both human health and the environment. Numpeung has developed a technique to blend Thai herbs and fruits with Japanese microorganism technology to create some of Hug’s home care products.

While organic certification of some of the ingredients allows her to build confidence in customers both locally and internationally, Numpeung explains that fully organic products are much more expensive than mass-produced synthetic products for two reasons. One is because of the lengthy process of acquiring just small amounts of organic ingredients. And two, because of the short shelf life of organic ingredients. 

Necessary Balance Between Profit and Sustainability

For Numpeung, the reality of her business is that she must balance between profitability and sustainability.

While not 100% natural ingredients, Hug strives for the mildest formulas, emphasizing transparency with customers about the percentage of natural ingredients and the reasons behind using synthetic chemicals. The brand acknowledges the need for preservatives for shelf-life, but it remains dedicated to using minimal and mild synthetic ingredients, ensuring that each product aligns with Hug’s values of care and sustainability. 

For example, she uses not more than 1% of cosmetic-grade preservatives with the mildest formula. A mild formula means synthetic chemicals that are the least reactive to sensitive skin.

Hug’s product label design specifically shows the amount of synthetic chemicals used in each product. It also shows instructions for recycling the product packaging. Photo courtesy of Hug.

Hug’s Customers Are Grateful

For Hug, their products appeal to a working-class demography responsible for their families and are concerned about health and the environment. More specifically, some of Hug’s customers have skin complications and trust Hug’s chemical-free products.

For 10 years, Hug has expanded from pop-up stores to retail, international exports, and supplying hotels supporting local, organic, and environmentally-friendly products. But one simple thing that makes her happy is seeing Hug’s customers visiting her stores looking for products for their family members who have sensitive skin. To her, it’s a way to take care of people whom they love. 

Numpeung does her research and development for the composition of Hug’s products. Photo courtesy of Hug.

“The customer sent the chemical list to me to check (whether) that our product has this chemical,” says Numpeung as she recalls assisting one customer who brought a list of chemicals that her relative undergoing chemotherapy needed to avoid.

Now, whenever she develops new products, she always works closely with her customers who have skin complications.

Bangkok’s Slow Refill Station Trend

Another thing that makes Numpeung happy is seeing her customers support her refill station. Hug’s refill stations aim to reduce packaging waste. She fondly remembers the first day she started her refill station, foreigners who saw it high-fiving the Hug team and praised that this eco-concept was finally happening in Bangkok.

At the time of writing, Hug has 22 refill stations across Thailand, all of which provide customers a 15% discount if they purchase with empty Hug product packaging.

Hug’s refill station at Ecotopia, is one of at least 30 refill stations that can be found across Thailand’s eco-product stores. Photo courtesy of Hug.

Despite having ideas to reduce packaging costs for her customers since the beginning, the refill station was only introduced 4-5 years ago. She told EcoCupid that her business would have failed if she had done the refill station since the beginning. Environmental awareness among Thais was non-existent 10 years ago. Despite growing support for organic and eco-products, interest is still niche, mainly because organic product prices are higher compared to mass-produced products.

Hug’s Eco-Friendly Product Packaging

Large-scale commercial brands tend to create smaller-sized packaging and then test a new product in the market. Instead, Hug started boldly by selling products in one-litre-sized packaging, opposite from conventional methods. 

Hug’s various bottle sizes for its natural dishwashing liquid. Photo courtesy of Hug.

The bottles are completely recyclable and come with labels clearly instructing customers how to recycle them. Even the labels themselves are easily peeled off and printed with soy ink.

“You don’t have to pay the packaging cost for many pieces but you can use the biggest one,” argues Numpeung who feels responsible for communicating with customers the benefits of bigger packaging.

The brand initially focused on larger packaging to reduce costs but later introduced 500ml sizes. While supporting recyclable materials, Hug balances environmental consciousness with the practicalities of running a small business.

Lessons in Love and Sustainability

While the Thai government can help with environmental policies, ultimately, it’s down to small businesses and their customers to take the first steps and support each other to become sustainable, says Numpueng. As a women entrepreneur, she also champions the ambitions of a daughter, wife, and mother, to do great things in life.

SEE ALSO: Sustainable Menstrual Care: How a Remarkable Entrepreneur is Empowering Change in Malaysia

Numpeung reflects on Hug’s journey, one marked by challenges and growth. For aspiring organic business entrepreneurs, Numpeung emphasizes the importance of balancing business sustainability with environmental goals. She also believes that listening to customers and being sincere by producing products that solve their and environmental problems simultaneously brought Hug this far today.

Hug’s pop-up store in Singapore. Numpeung (right) is working with her sister (left).

“If our business is strong, we can help the environment better,” says Numpeung proudly.

Looking ahead, Numpeung envisions exporting Hug’s products and refill station concepts throughout Southeast Asia. With environmental issues being a common concern across the region, Hug seeks to export not just products but a sustainable way of living.

In Numpeung’s journey with Hug, love, care, and sustainability weave a compelling narrative. The success of Hug is not just measured in market growth but in the transformative impact on the founder’s family, a testament to the power of love to create a positive change in individual well-being and the health of the planet.

Our featured Eco-Hero

Hug Organic Co., Ltd. is a daily skin care product business founded on family love, farmer community empowerment, and sustainable production. Based in Bangkok, Thailand, Hug focuses on creating products that are as organic as possible, supporting organic Thai farmers, using eco-friendly and reusable packaging, and setting up refill stations. You can reach out to them at

Bryan Yong

Bryan Yong is a freelance environmental journalist and chief editor for EcoCupid. With a background in oceanography and experience volunteering with youth environmental NGOs in Malaysia, he brings curiosity and enthusiasm to discover Southeast Asia’s environmental movement through his stories. Bryan is an avid traveller and loves local food the most.

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