FAQ's


QUESTIONS ABOUT PRODUCTS INGREDIENTS & CERTIFICATIONS


  • What caravanserai body care products ARE Certified fair trade & organic?

CaravanSerai Shea Butter is 100% Organic & Fair Trade through Ecocert, one of Europe's leading Natural Products Certification & Standards Group.

As always, CaravanSerai strives to provide the highest quality products for our planet and our people by working directly with the family farmers that produce our raw material. Because some of them are such small producers they are not able to afford to pay for the certifications. These family farms have been producing product for generations and we believe in the integrity of their product. CaravanSerai prides ourself on having a relationship with each farm & distillery and part of our mission is to help that these farms & distilleries remain sustainable.

When possible, CaravanSerai purchases Certified Organic & Fair Trade raw materials. These ingredients are clearly marked on the labels “ * ” to show that they are organic or fair trade or both.

As always please feel free to contact us if you have a specific question on the ingredients list.


  • I have sensitive skin. Some herbs or essential oils or scents may cause allergic reactions. Are your products safe to use? Are they safe for people with Nut/Kernel or Gluten Allergies too?

-       CaravanSerai offers our Unrefined Shea Butter Black Soap for those who have skin sensitivities to any products that have natural essential oils & absolutes. Since our Unrefined Shea Butter and Traditional Black Soaps are all handmade traditionally by the women's cooperative in Ghana we can promise that no additives or harsh chemicals have been used during the harvest or production of these authentic products.

-       CaravanSerai Body Care Precious Essence Oils & Infusion Shea Body Butters are created for a natural way to moisturize and scent the body. Our oils & body butters and made with high quality natural ingredients and are intended to help your skin feel and smell great. CaravanSerai Precious Essence oils & Infusion Shea’s are a mixture of Essential Oils, Absolutes, Attars and Shamams (for questions on these see below). As always, Essential Oils & Absolutes should always be diluted in a base oil before directly placing on skin. Our Precious Essence Oils are in a base oil of Repressed Sandalwood Vegetable Glycerin. We source pure natural fragrant ingredients. For people who tend to have sensitivity to fragranced (natural or synthetic) items we recommend using a very small amount on a localized area of the skin. Then wait a day or two to confirm if any sensitivity occurs.

-       CaravanSerai Infusion Shea Butters are all blends created by Millie Khatri. Each jar is hand poured in small batches and are great way to scent the body and moisturize at the same time. The Infusion Sheas are in 100% Unrefined Shea Butter with Calendula Flower Extract, Essential Oils & Absolutes. They can be used as deodorant or solid "perfume" and are great way to scent the body for people who want to create a subtle aura.

-       For Nut or Kernel Allergies Shea Butters and Black Soap recipes are derived from the kernel of the fruit. In general Shea Butter is one of the best moisturizers for ALL types of skin however some sensitivity can occur and allergies are theoretically possible. If unsure always do a skin test and use your best judgement.

-       CaravanSerai body care does NOT use any type of gluten in creating our products. We do not process our products in a facility that makes gluten products.  As always, If you are known to have environmental sensitivities we suggest patch testing an area to see how your body reacts to our products. Please see our list of stores that carry our products under Trade Routes to sample our products line.


  •  what are the ingredients list for the Precious essence oils?

CaravanSerai Precious Essence Oils Collection are a variety of Essential Oils, Absolutes, Attars & Shamama (Compound of fragrant spices, herbs & woods.) These pure botanical extracts are created in several different countries by various distilleries. We have worked with some of these distilleries for over 10 years.  When purchasing oils, we always seek the highest quality, non synthetic compounds. CaravanSerai Precious Essence Oils are a mixture of CaravanSerai Trade Mark Blends (made in small batches) and oils of other Family Distillery Trade Mark Blends from around the world. 


  • What are the differences between essential oils, absolutes, resins, attars & shamamas? 

There are many ways to get a pure botanical extract. The various methods create the different types of oils concentrated used in our blends. CaravanSerai sources and blends with all the oils listed in the above question. Below is the list of methods used to extract the oils in our blends.

-       Steam Distillation- the most well-known technique for extracting essential oil from plants. Steam distillation involves bubbling steam through the plant material. The steam makes the plant matter soften. The volatile cells of aromatic plants are collected in the steam and cooled in a series of tubing/cooling vessels and eventual collected in liquid concentrate of an Essential Oil. Essential Oils are SUPER concentrates and extremely volatile (easy evaporated) should be used with caution and never directly on the skin.

-       Absolutes are highly concentrated aromatic materials extracted from plants. The multi-step process includes first extracting the aromatic oil from the plant material with a solvent such as hexane. After the hexane is removed what is left behind is a waxy substance called a concrete. From the concrete the aromatic oils are then extracted and separated from most of the plant waxes and non-aromatic material with ethyl alcohol. After the ethyl alcohol is removed, the remaining substance is called an absolute. An absolute is the most concentrated form of natural fragrance, with an aroma close to the plant from which it came, and is highly regarded in natural perfumery. ( Sourced from Eden Botanicals)

-       Resins are natural aromatic oils that have been extracted using other processes. These include natural exudates and resins (or resinoids). These aromatic essences are collected from the resin that oozes out of the bark of trees when the trees are tapped (like pine sapor maple syrup). In destructive distillation, the starting material (such as Benzoin resin) is super-heated and cooked until an oil substance is obtained from the solid starting material. Thus, oil can be obtained from something that didn’t really have oil in it in the first place. (Source Eden Botanicals)

For more in depth information on the above methods of extraction, please visit the Eden Botanical FAQ Page (http://www.edenbotanicals.com/). Eden Botanical is a very reliable and trusted source for high quality oils and in my opinion the best descriptions of extraction methods.

-       Attars & Shamamas are highly complex botanical aromatics that require up to two months to cure. These blends utilizing a number of different distillation techniques and can have well over 60 ingredients. Attars tends to be a simpler blend of 1 to 5 botanical extracts. Shamamas are the blends tend to much more complicated.

-       These type of botanical aromatics come from centuries old distilleries created by the same families for generation and have a long heritage in this living tradition. These distilleries are very reputable, most located along the original trade routes & some of them have been around for centuries and are true family run businesses.  CaravanSerai has been working with most of them over 10 years now. The ingredients that go into making Attars & Shamamas are usually closely held family secrets because there is no way to really patent recipes in some of these countries. When possible we purchase certified organic essential oils or absolutes from distilleries that offer that.

Attars & Shamamas capture the Ancient World of the Trade Routes and are true gems honoring the people who not only create them but all who feel the connection to Ancient Eastern World. 


  • can you tell me more about organic & fair trade certification? Who is ecocert?

Ecocert was the very first certification body to develop standards for "natural and organic cosmetics" in the European Union in 2003. The standard specification was drawn up in conjunction with all stakeholders in natural products industries, which include experts, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, consumers and development organisations.

With a presence in more than 80 countries, Ecocert currently supports and guides more than 1,000 companies through their certification processes. By gaining the trust of consumers, Ecocert has become the global leader in Organic Cosmetic with more than 70% of the market share.

The basic principles of the Ecocert standard:

1) To ensure an environmentally friendly cosmetic product, the Ecocert standard lays down:

The use of ingredients derived from renewable resources, manufactured by environmentally friendly processes. Ecocert therefore checks:The absence of GMO, parabens, phenoxyethanol, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes, animal-derived ingredients (unless naturally produced by them: milk, honey, etc.). The biodegradable or recyclable nature of packaging.

2) A minimum threshold of natural ingredients from organic farming to be reached to obtain certification:

For both labels, Ecocert Standard imposes that a minimum of 95% of the total ingredients come from natural origin. For the natural and organic cosmetic label: logo-organic-cosmetics A minimum of 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. For the natural cosmetic label: logo-natural-cosmetics A minimum of 50% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 5% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming.

Some ingredients very frequently found in cosmetics (water, salts, minerals) cannot be certified as organic because they are not sourced from farming. For example, shampoos and some creams, mostly composed of water, contain between 10% and 40% organic ingredients, and always 95% natural ingredients. An essential oil, which does not contain water, can be up to 100% organic ingredients.

3) On site audit is performed once a year by an Ecocert auditor.

This Information was provided directly from Ecocert. For further information please see their website www.ecocert.com/en.


general Business Policy questions


  • How long will my order take to arrive?

Please Allow 5 to 7 Business Days for your order to ship. A Tracking # will be issued via Stamps.com when it's on its way!


  •  what are the shipping rates?

 We offer Standard Shipping 3-9 days or Priority Shipping 2-5 days. Which can be chosen at the time of purchase. Our Free Shipping is sent Standard First Class Mail however you can always upgrade to Priority with few extra dollars.

At this time, tracking is available only for Priority Mail.

Our Shipping Rates depend on weight and are stated below;

1oz. to 15oz. -$3.99

16oz. to 31oz. - $5.99

Above 31oz. - $10.99


  •  Do you ship internationally?

 At this time we do not offer International Shipping due to strict regulations on sending purchase items and also the cost associated with international shipping.


  •  what is your return policy?

 Caravanserai strives to provide consistent, natural product by only selecting high grade raw materials. Due to the nature of our products, the color and consistency can vary from order to order. This reflects the handmade quality of our products. Our return policy is as follows: Returns must be made within 30 days of purchase. Full refunds are given for unopened merchandise only. Exchanges can be made on items within 30 days. Only 1 exchange can be made within 30 days of your order. Return Shipping or Shipping is not included in any refunds or exchanges. Any items damaged from shipping must be returned and will be exchanged for the same item. 


  • what are your business hours?

 Our online store is available 24/7. We strive to return all emails within 24hrs but since life happens we may need 72!. If you’d like to call us, our office hours are Monday-Friday 9am-5pm. The best # to use at this time is 919 902 1589. Please leave message with your phone #  and a good time to call back. We are always happy to answer your questions!