Purity seekers

If beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, these women are ensuring it also lies in the eyes of the responsible consumer with their beauty products.

They are today’s cleanse-preneurs or purity seekers. Their office is the home kitchen. Ridding the beauty industry of chemicals, infusing purity into regimes with magical potions, natural ingredients and pure oils. With their tiny home boutiques across India, their products with aroma oils, smoked lavender, rose, cinnamon, clay, honey, coconut, aloe vera, lemon grass, black sea salt, fruits and naturally found ingredients have given the beauty industry chemical-free and environmentally responsible options. Yes, responsibility to others, and to the ecological disaster the world is heading towards is their biggest concern. With a market share pegged at Rs 45,000 crore and growing, the Indian diaspora is seeing an indigenous and thriving resurgence of such home-based products.

Even as some Indian brands rule the retail, and international chains open stores here, a very mindful and responsible family of believers decided to go basket in hand, pick the choicest organic ingredients, to create beauty that our grandmothers would probably nod wisely at. Mumbai-based Rubeina Karachiwalla, founder, Ruby Organics, an organic make-up line says, “According to a report by Transparency Market Research, the Indian organic cosmetic market is expected to become a Rs 10,000 crore market by 2018 with a CAGR of 20-25 per cent, while the global market share is expected to rise to $13 billion by 2018 with a CAGR of 9.6 per cent.”

The mantra is paraben-free, vegetarian, non-animal tested, chemical and preservative-free. All seeking to purify our beauty routines, while giving back to earth, the commonality of these cleanse-preneurs is their staunch belief in their trade. Rubeina Karachiwalla’s Ruby Organics offers an organic and natural make-up range, the first of its kind. Sunayana Walia’s Raw Beauty offers a slew of home-grown organic products in Jalandhar while Bindu Chopra, an NCR-based home cosmetics whiz, has, with Ahad, given aloe vera gels, clay packs, frankincense soaps, neem, tulsi etc. a new lease of life. Bengalurean Sapna Rao decided to embrace this wholesome goodness with her line of exotic soaps, scrubs and balms, bringing wholesome beauty and responsible consumerism, and she also makes soaps for pooches. Infact, even men are preferring the goodness of these products!

Organic make-upper

Rubeina Karachiwalla began her explorations in the kitchen, and today she offers organic make-up at “Consumers are becoming more conscious and responsible. Sustainability and environmental consciousness are the need of the hour. Our society is looking for credibility and reliability as cosmetics are crammed with parabens, allergens, carcinogens, synthetics, fragrances and fillers with harmful effects on us and the environment,” says Rubeina who saw this void and worked really hard (with no background in beauty) to find a solution. For her, making women happier was the inspiring factor.

The girl who wanted to detoxify beauty regimes says, “Growing up, like every other teenager, I was fascinated with beauty products and cosmetics. I had never paid attention to what goes inside products, but my curiousity led me to discover a number of toxic ingredients present in regular make-up brands. I felt this sense of guilt every time I was burdening my skin with make-up and it bothered me to a point where I had to find a way to make make-up healthier. I just had to.” So, she literally went in search of wholesome ingredients for her line of products.

At the age of 25, she started researching on organic makeup, and was surprised to find many American and European brands. “Taking inspiration from them, I started working in R&D, making my own products sourced from natural minerals, seed butters, beeswax and oils that are abundantly available in nature and do the same job. I wanted to create something that would not only look good but simultaneously help improve skin,” says the organic sourcer who is now working on a new range of lipsticks, eyeliners and foundations. “We would like to move into skin and hair care,” says Rubeina. Two months since the launch, she has already seen over 30 per cent repeat customers.

Her products: range between Rs 450 to Rs 1,200

A bronzer with minerals,
natural and organic eye shadow, orange and cinnamon lip balm, concealers made of oil and clay, lipsticks with mango and shea butters and antioxidant oils of almond and castor among others.

- Rubeina Karachiwalla

Pure perfections

For Bindu Chopra, a certified Aura analyst and a clinical hypnotherapist, aromatic soaps, face washes, packs and perfumes were a passion. “Earlier, I was spending a lot on available brands in the market, with a craving for something natural and earthy,” explains the lady who created her organic brand Ahad in the NCR area. “I started with hand-crafted soaps I bought from my friend, now partner, Ruchi Kanwar who makes the soaps. The scrubs, face packs are made by me using coffee, organic sugar, virgin olive oil, multani mitti, tulsi, neem, rose, rock salt etc,” she explains, adding, “Ahad means unique or matchless.”

Bindu ChopraBindu Chopra

Bindu has 138 customers on her WhatsApp group Wake Up Woman that is an exhaustive encyclopaedia on natural regimes, with tips and new ways to beauty. With 13 soaps, four scrubs, six creams, three shampoos and hair conditioners, she has 30 products. It all started when she visited Zanzibar and saw hand-crafted soaps in ginger, cinnamon and clove oil. “Soon after, I met a lady in Dar es Salaam selling soaps. That stayed with me,” she says. Trying out different concoctions, she customises products for women, and men, and also has an organic mosquito repellent.

bindu chopra

“As a woman, it is my duty not to just sell a product for the sake of selling it, but to sell it because your skin needs it. Wake Up Woman members buy from 35 buying products monthly. I also send six to 12 couriers monthly to Kolkata, Pune and Allahabad. I can humbly say that every person who has picked my product has come back smiling brilliantly. This is motivating me to study, and learn more about skin care,” she adds. “One thing closest to our hearts is that the products are made with either shabad or Gayatri Mantra or Aum playing, to connect with the age-old secret of purity. We believe in the vibes and energies we send out,” she says. While brand names matter most today, it’s tough to explain why a scrub or ubtan is an effort — sieving, drying, grinding, etc. When people see a home-made product at '180 next to a branded product at the same cost on a shelf, they always question, ‘the brand sells at the same price?’” she says.

Bindu Chopra

Her products: Coffee scrubs, jasmine, rose, Grannys Delight — haldi besan kesar soaps, Almond soap Aura, Meal a honey + oats blend, Blush rose collection and aloe vera gels. Rose and jasmine epsom salt scrubs, eucalyptus balm, rose face and body lotion, coconut oil cooked with curry and methi leaves, beer shampoo, amla reetha shikakai, hibiscus hair oil, etc.

Price: From Rs 35 to Rs 450

- Bindu Chopra


Skin Therapy came out of endless mullings of purity for Bengalurean corporate trainer Sapna Rao. Looking for natural ways to healthy skin, she felt, “Be it chemicals, misleading claims of ‘natural,’ or cost, I have never been a big fan of store products. I am a big believer in the power of nature; our grandmothers had the right attitude — anything you need for a beauty regime can be found in your kitchen!” Which prompted the bubbling and pottering of her beauty wizardry in her aromatic kitchen. She hopes to steer her two daughters away from common misconceptions about beauty being fairness.

sapna rao

Her products at cater to different skin types. Two years ago, she decided to quit a corporate career of 15 years, and follow what made her happy. “Learning about different properties of ingredients, testing on myself and family led me to create different face packs and skin care products. I was lucky to find a soaping course by Priya of Soapsmith, and I fell in love. I was amazed by the process and final product. Never before had my skin felt so healthy, moisturised, nourished — so loved!” says Sapna, adding, “I use only fresh fruit and vegetables, pure essential oils, top quality oils and natural additives for colour and design. I have chosen not to use controversial ingredients such as palm oil and mica colours. They are environment-friendly, no chemicals are added to water sources, and I even find my bathrooms no longer have white residue from earlier products. This is the beginning of a very fruitful journey.”

Her products: Mango Papaya Soap, Curd & Charcoal Soap, Orange & Cinnamon Soap. She also makes soaps for Dogs: Carrot & Milk Soap, Coconut & Rose Soap, Lemon & Coriander Soap. Tea Tree Oil Soap Avocado Soap Banana Soap , etc

Price: from Rs 100 to Rs 500

Be a label reader

So how does the average woman differentiate between natural and chemical products, given the plethora in the market? Sapna advises, “Be a label reader... look at ingredients. Lye or sodium/potassium chloride is the only agent needed in the saponification process, just as table salt uses sodium chloride to make the final product. The alkali is the lye (sodium hydroxide mixed with water, tea, goat milk, juice, etc.). When mixed, the chemical reaction (saponification) results in glycerine. Handmade natural soaps retain glycerine which occurs naturally in the soap-making process. Commercially made soap usually extract glycerine as it is a very valuable by-product. Some natural soap makers tend to reduce the quantity of ‘good stuff’ such as castor oil, luxurious oils (almond, apricot, argon; and butters like shea, cocoa and mango). We are not bound to put the percentages on packing, trust your skin to tell you. The name of a soap will aid you, and your skin will prompt you to go back.”

For Rubeina, it is about being aware to make a difference, “Avoid products with water, as India has a very high lead content in ground water. Water also calls for chemical preservation. Parabens and petrochemicals are hidden anti-heroes that are known to disrupt hormonal function. PEGs adversely affect sensitive/damaged skin. Alcohol, phthalates and formaldehyde-releasing substances are also best avoided. Every time you buy a product, take some time out to research ingredients. Our skin is the largest organ on our body and absorbs everything we put onto it into the blood stream.” The cost factor in some of these lines might be a deterrent, but Sapna feels, “While natural artisan soaps are expensive as they are made from 100 per cent oils and natural additives, in terms of quality, absence of chemicals and preservatives, one can hardly compare the two. They are also multi-functional — scrub, cleansing routine and moisturiser.”

The responsible detergent

Soap nuts have traditionally been used as expectorants, and in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis, and can be used as detergents. They contain saponin, a natural detergent where the shell absorbs water and releases saponins that circulate as natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing. They are non-toxic and sustainable laundry options. They can be composted for a no-waste solution, and a re-usable muslin bag is all that is needed to add to the laundry load!

- Sapna Rao

Simply organic

Jalandhar girl Sunayana Walia decided to choose an organic lifestyle eight years ago and today her products Raw Beauty (rawbeauty@naturalbodycareproducts) have a strong clientele. “We stopped using soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants, creams, detergents with chemicals. I started using home-made toothpowder, natural homemade scrubs, soap nuts for laundry and kitchen,” says Sunayana. Two years ago, while volunteering at an organic farmer’s market, she realised a market. “At first, I gifted what I was making — my friends and family’s response gave me the impetus to start selling. I have a toothpowder, everyday body cleansers, and a healing salve to replace toxic Vaseline, I will be introducing an all-natural deo cream, lip balms, hand salve, feet salve, face mists etc.,” she adds.

Sunayana Walia

Using organic ingredients like kokum butter, beeswax and Tamanu oil, she believes — what we cannot eat should not be put on our bodies… “It’s for people ready to detox and understand how zillion chemicals in each commercial product is harming us and the environment.” She will be launching five more products soon.

Sunayana Walia

Her products: Chamkeela tooth powder (Himalayan rock salt, edible activated charcoal, organic powder of turmeric, cloves and cinnamon), body and face cleansers. Happy hand salve, feet salve, underarms deo cream, Gulaabo (organic oats, aloe vera powder), etc.

Price: Rs 200 to Rs 400

- Sunayana Walia

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