Bedak Sejuk A Dying Trade

ONE of the age-old methods to having flawless skin lies on a staple food which is rich in minerals and high on nutrition. Since the good old days, rice has been known for its skin whitening and tightening remedies.

Known to many locals, bedak sejuk (Malay for ‘cold powder’) is a traditional product made from fermented rice. It is an effective but affordable replacement for costly and high-end face powder. It easily blends with the layers of skin, covers up the pores that secrete oil and is equally wonderful to treat blemishes, fine lines and pimples that lead to ageing.

Shaped into tiny white teardrop-shaped beads, it has oil-absorbing properties, making it an excellent and natural face powder. Just mix a few beads with some water to form a paste, then spread a thin layer on your face for an overall effect or dab a concentrated amount onto an annoying pimple to dry it up. As the paste dries, you will enjoy its cooling effect which is really great in our hot and humid weather.

Giving a better insight to the tedious task of producing these dainty white beads is Yeoh Siong Huat, who fully took over his father’s business in 2016 after the latter’s demise.

“It takes about 45 days for the entire process from rice to beads. Wet spells are a nightmare for us as we depend on the sunny days to dry them for 4 to 5 continuous days. If it rains in between those days, we have to throw everything away because the texture will be affected by the moisture in the air,” he says.

Explaining the painstaking steps in the production, he says the first step involves washing the rice and soaking it in water for at least a month to ferment.

After fermentation, the rice is washed again and blended into paste which will be filtered and hung out to dry in a bag. Next, it is mixed with water and put in a specially made-to-order tray with 957 tiny holes to produce the beads. The tray is designed by Siong Huat’s father to form 957 beads simultaneously. Previously they used a piping bag which could produce only one bead at a time.

In the next step, they beads are dried under the sun for 2 hours before being left in a room overnight. Then they are brought out to the sun again for 4 to 5 days before being bottled up for retail.

Siong Huat’s father Yeoh Keng Beng started the business in the 1970s under Perniagaan Bedak Sejuk Lean Seng at their kampung house in Kuala Jalan Bharu, Balik Pulau, Penang.

“I used to help him on weekends or when I return home after working at a gold-plated jewellery factory every night. After my dad’s passing, I decided to quit my job to continue his legacy full-time and also take care of the house here. We may never be rich from this business but we have enough to eat,” says the humble 41-year-old.

He adds that his two brothers, who have their own day jobs, also help him in the business on a part-time basis.


“Although the steps and ingredients for making bedak sejuk the traditional way are not hard, most people are too lazy as the process is time-consuming. Many households used to make their own rice powder but now it is a dying trade,” he says.

Siong Huat and his brothers still make the powder the traditional way as they want to keep the tradition alive. They have long carved their names in the bedak sejuk-making industry as one can easily learn about their endeavours in the print media as well as the Internet.

Despite their reputable business, they are selling a bottle of 170gm bedak sejuk for only RM5.

Visitors come from near and far to attend workshop on the art of rice powder making. Each also get a small bottle of the product.

“They just pay a token sum of RM2 each. On busy days, we have as many as 6 busloads visiting us to learn about this traditional trade,” added Siong Huat.

“During our 40-odd years of business, it only started to pick up after 20 years because we were featured in the newspaper, internet and even television.

“This publicity really revived our business and spur us to continue with the trade,” he said.

For more information, please call 04-8660622.



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