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Ayurvedic Beauty Trends in India

June 2013

By Anoushka Sharma, Delhi

Ayurveda is one of the most ancient medical sciences to originate from the Indian subcontinent. While its practice and sale has been extensive across the length and breadth of the country, it’s an unorganized, niche sector, run solely by ayurvedic practitioners out of unknown, tiny neighborhood shops, their reputation limited to word of mouth. However, in the last two years, a few people have attempted to make Ayurveda a more accessible system of medicine and beauty, and urban Indians have voraciously lapped up brands like Organic India, Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials.

Entrepreneur Mira Kulkarni had an interesting insight when she set up her beauty brand, Forest Essentials, in 2000. Set up in the lower regions of the Himalayas, Forest Essentials took incredibly complicated and cumbersome, 6000-year-old ayurvedic beauty rituals and made them into lighter, less dense creams and powders that better suit fast-paced lifestyles. With cold-pressed oils, steam-distilled pure oils, organically grown herbal oils and plant extracts, Kulkarni retained the purity of not only the ingredients, but the processes in which they are produced. Her technique was enough to put Forest Essentials into the luxury market. It is priced significantly higher than most Indian beauty brands. To add to that, she understood the do-good urge of the urban Indian women. Forest Essentials is known for using the surrounding local communities, giving employment to hundreds of rural women. So when you buy a jar of cream, you feel both like part of a chain of good deeds and that you are doing more than just buying good skin products for yourself.

While Forest Essentials sticks to beauty products, various others have ventured into the holistic health benefits of Ayurveda. Kama Ayurveda, started in 2002, partners with an authentic ayurvedic institution called Arya Vaidya Pharmacy in Coimbatore, in Southern India, a non-profit trust with ayurvedic hospitals and clinics all over the country. 

Organic India is the most mass-market of the three brands, and a growing staple in most urban households today. It has an extensive catalogue of ayurvedic medicinal capsules, which ranges from Ashwagandha, (also known as Indian Ginseng, and used for improving the nervous system functions, in medicines to inhibit growth of tumors), to Brahmi which improves blood circulation and is used in treatment of Alzheimers and paralysis. There’s the wonder herb, Amlaki, which is a source of vitamin C, and is used as a cooling rejuvenator in ayurvedic medicine.

And it is more layered than that. The mysteries of Ayurveda lie in how these herbs and plant extracts are mixed and ingested, and made a part of everyday life. They are not isolated vitamin pills that one can pop, and certainly not S.O.S. medication. In those capsules, is a delicately formulated mixture made from lifetimes of research and knowledge of plant extracts. If beauty can come in a jar is an existential question itself. But there’s more being promised here--a yogic way of life, a balance of body and mind and a sense of giving back to the community.


Health & Fitness
Blog Issue: 
Forest Essentals, created by Indian female entrepeneur Mira Kulkarni
Organic India herbal remedies
Valley of the Flowers National Park

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