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Made in Singapore | A Frog Farm’s Skincare Line

By Bianca Husodo

The drive to Jurong Frog Farm’s 1.2-hectare land in Singapore’s agricultural park in Kranji’s Lim Chu Kang is flanked with verdant foliage. The obvious absence of the glitzy skyscrapers or the suburban HDBs so synonymous to Singapore makes the estate feel much further removed from the hubbub of urbanity.

One warm July morning, the farm, which houses about 15,000 frogs, was serenely quiet, save for some gentle croaks. Chelsea Wan, the farm director and second-generation owner of Jurong Frog Farm, was preoccupied with the preparation for the visit of kindergarteners to the estate. When her father, Wan Bock Thiaw, started the farm in 1981, he was one of the early pioneers to bring in the underestimated frog trade into the land-scarce country. Today, it’s the only remaining American bullfrog farm in Singapore. And by the end of the year, the farm will be ousted out of the area to make way for new defence training grounds. 

Wan has ideas to preserve the nearly extinct business — one of the many: keep the old-world trade up to the times. A decade ago, in a bid to amp public interest, the then-fresh graduate took on the initiative to open the farm gates for students, from pre-school to tertiary levels, and researchers to visit and observe the inner working of the farm. An active ambassador for the farm, the media crowned Wan the “frog princess”. The 35-year-old is now on to bigger things: bringing her farm into the world of beauty.

Historically, frogskin has been used to treat burn wounds. Absorbing water directly through their skin, frogs stay well-hydrated and protected from the harshest of elements. Thanks to their hardy biological dressing, frogs are perhaps the most resilient creatures on the planet. Wan and the lead scientist of she collaborates with — Dr. Chia Wei Sheng of Collagreen, a local biotechnology company — believe that the frogskin’s definitive collagen holds the secret to its natural shielding formula.

Upcycling discarded frogskin from Wan’s farm, Dr. Chia extracts its skin collagen for the farm’s newly launched skincare line, Frugé. The purified substance retains the native structure and similar bioactivities, says Dr. Chia. When applied on the skin, it forms a long-lasting layer that reinforces the skin’s barrier, while its hydrophilic nature locks in moisture. At the moment, Frugé’s products include a selection of soap and hydrating cream.

Above, watch how the frog farm teams up with the tech start-up to repurpose its frog skin waste into a collagen-based skincare line.

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