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Going back to Mother Nature

No artificial colours. All natural preservatives. And vegan-friendly. This isn’t the recipe for some really healthy khaana; it’s the concoction of the latest range of natural cosmetic products that are now made in India, for the Indians. Ruchira Hoon reports.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2009 01:48 IST
Ruchira Hoon

No artificial colours. All natural preservatives. And vegan-friendly. This isn’t the recipe for some really healthy khaana; it’s the concoction of the latest range of natural cosmetic products that are now made in India, for the Indians.

From older brands such as Khadi, Fab India, Forest Essentials, Kama, Biotique, Lotus, VLCC, Himalaya, that have constantly re-invented themselves, to latest entrants like Sundaram, The Nature’s Co, Craft House and Good Earth, it’s boom time for the natural cosmetics industry. Call it organic, call it herbal, call it even ayurvedic — it’s a mix of all things pure that’s making this trend one of this biggest draws of our times. Whether it’s foot creams, lip balms, facial mists, shampoos or eye gels, going green is the only way today.

Shahnaz Husain, a pioneer of the natural cosmetic industry, believes that while the beauty product market in India has grown at 25 per cent over the last decade, herbal beauty products have grown by a faster 40 per cent in the last three years only. “It’s not just the back-to-nature trend that is doing the rounds, instead it’s the concept of total well-being and de-stressing that’s making it big,” she says. “Which is why people are doing away with over-the-counter cosmetics that contain harmful chemicals and paving way for something totally natural. It’s a lifestyle choice.” Natasha Shah, founder of The Nature’s Co, whose products are PETA-certified, can’t but agree with Shahnaz and says that people today are very conscious of what goes into their body. “They understand that the skin can absorb the harmful chemicals even by using just a moisturiser, which is why more and more brands are offering a change which people have been vying for.” Most of her products revolve around the four elements — fire, water, earth and air — and use organic products such as lavender, cocoa, olive and even seaweed, nori, bergamot and tea tree.

Of course going back to grandma’s good old kitchen recipes has helped many of these brands. Forest Essential’s Meera Kulkarni has often said that reinventing old ayurvedic recipes has led to amazing therapies and has added rejuvenating qualities to cosmetics. Many of her products use sandalwood, rose and turmeric found in most kitchen cupboards, making them completely environment- friendly. What’s more is that these products are now giving international brands like The Body Shop, Bath and Body Works and Lush a run for their money.

Not all brands claim to be 100 per cent natural. Sandhya Sakhuja, category head of Fab India’s personal care section, believes that it’s the additives that makes the products special. “Instead of using chemical emulsifiers, we use natural substances like cheese and mayonnaise,” she says. Like with so much else in the industry, it seems to be a new trend to put your money where your mouth is.