Ritualist beauty. Holistic treatments. Indi-Beauty. Marma therapy. Dadima ke nuske (grandma’s remedies). These are all terms for the ancient art of Ayurveda, roughly translating from Sanskrit to mean “knowledge of life” .Originating over 5,000 years ago in India, making it the oldest practiced health system in the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Health as: a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This is not dissimilar to the fundamental teachings of Ayurvedic medicine which focuses on a holistic approach that pays equal importance to the body and mind. Think herb-based diet but also meditation. Its ancient principles are all centred around mindfulness – fully immersing oneself in an experience whether that be eating where you think about the smells and the texture, or yoga where you acknowledge every muscle in your body.
This new wave of ancient healthcare has developed in the West, with second generation immigrants sharing the secrets passed down from their great-grandparents.
We could actually attribute this swell in nature-based beauty products to Swami Ramdev’s (who may or may not be a con artist like many of his guru predecessors and is up for debate) Patanjali in 2006. His line of products disrupted the market by providing cheap and not-very-pretty ayurvedic products, leaving a gap for upmarket brands without the luxury price tag for the middle-class millennials.
One could even say there is an aura of romanticism surrounding ‘slow beauty’ in the West because of the exoticness and mysticism surrounding Indian beauty traditions. Some of the most common beauty rituals that I would definitely agree are in every brown girl starter pack include amla (Indian gooseberry) oil hair massages, turmeric face masks and putting ginger in pretty much everything you eat/drink. I’ve highlighted a few of my favourite UK founded small businesses, grounded in the practice of Ayurveda.
These brands are all about using ingredients that are 100% natural, ethically sourced and plant-based. They believe that the healing power of nature is the most powerful remedy. Many of their ingredients are commonly found in Indian cooking such as turmeric, cumin and carom seeds. As the co-founder of First Water Solutions, so simply puts it, “Why feed your skin what you won’t eat”.
However, tapping into the latest trend is not the only challenge for these entrepreneurs.
With large beauty companies coming under scrutiny on how eco-friendly their production line is (check out my blog on ‘greenwashing’) and are forced to pivot, new start-ups can’t afford to ignore sustainability. Furthermore, as governments across Europe put in place tougher climate change mandates, joining the sustainability revolution has become less of a trend and more of a requirement. Founders must do more than just include environmental values in their brand book, but must show investors that sustainability is an important pillar of their business model with a plan on how this adapts with growth. Consumers are demanding transparency on companies’ end-to-end environmental impact. A UK survey (Source: GlobalWebIndex 2020-2021) of people aged 16-34 indicated that 57% would pay more for an eco-friendly product and over half expect ethical credentials from luxury items. To add a generation lens, they were also 24% more likely than the rest of the UK population to buy more from sustainable brand post COVID. Not only this but start-ups are looking to only work with distributors that align with the environmental values as bad partnerships could easily blemish their reputation.
It must be said that younger generations creating small businesses that tap into their rich heritages and are also clean and conscious is something to be proud of. At last we are listening to our ancestors by learning from nature rather than destroying it.