A mushrooming crop of local brands are experimenting with beauty products in a bid to make them completely customisable.
An awe-struck woman sees her lipstick being put together from scratch, after having personally selected the exact shade, texture and aroma she wants her lipstick to have. Such videos exploring bespoke beauty and cosmetic products are a common sight on social media platforms, because, although late in the game, the beauty and hygiene industry has now thrown its doors open to customisation. And this isn’t only the case abroad, for even in India, a mushrooming crop of small to mid-sized local brands are experimenting with products in a bid to make them completely customisable. Their goal is to give customers what the big players in the market don’t – exactly what they desire.
Manissha Dutta Chohan, Founder of Cape of Good Soap, a bath and body care brand that allows users to customise products according to their skincare needs, favourite natural ingredients, aromas and even party themes, attributes this demand in the space to increasing incomes, and therefore, spending power. She highlights how, despite having popular international brands within reach of our fingertips, customers are craving a more personalized experience, and hence despite having a ready-to-order range as well, Manissha has noticed that an increasing number of customers are opting for her customised blends.
“Right now customisation and personalisation goes in everything. People like to give products their signature touch. They feel very special if something is made just for them. They like the special attention and the exclusivity. Also, because of an increase in spending power, they don’t mind spending a few extra bucks and getting things made exclusively for them.” The entrepreneur also believes that it was the advent of handmade products that triggered the desire for customisation. “It all started with handmade products becoming popular. Handmade products are made in small batches, and hence, customisation is possible. You can produce environment-friendly products and this flexibility that handmade products provide made people aware that customisation is possible and desirable,” Manissha opines.
Another reason cited by makeup artist Sabrina Suhail is the growing awareness about one’s health. Sabrina, who has been a makeup artist for 11 years, has been making customisable lipsticks for the past eight months. Her venture allows women to select the colour, texture and aroma of the lipstick so that they get the exact product they desire. This facility is available for liquid matte, matte and liquid lipsticks, as well as lip-glosses and balms. All one needs to do is book an appointment at the store and voila! In 20 minutes, you have your own customised lipstick. Sabrina feels that the quality of her products, combined with the fact that they are vegan, cruelty-free and organic, is what attracts customers.
“Indian women have always favoured bespoke products, that’s why tailors have been around for years. Such is the case even when it comes to jewellery, perfumes or soaps; they like things tailor-made for them. But, apart from this, there’s also the fact that women have become more conscious about beauty products; they want to know what they’re putting on their face. They want to know what’s going in their products and onto their face and into their skin. They are also conscious about the environment, and all our products are PETA certified,” Manissha supports this theory because the reason why she started customising skincare products was that she was looking out for safer alternatives for her child. “The existing products had parabens and sulphates and I was looking out for chemical-free alternatives,” she shares. And so, Manissha makes it a point to keep her customised products chemical-free.
Mohit Yadav, CEO and co-founder of Freewill, a brand that offers customised hair care products, says that customers’ increased awareness about their own needs and the desire for a single solution too influences their decision to buy customised products. Hence, he gets customers pointing out very specific hair problems they want to be mitigated. His shampoos and conditioners are customised based on an individual’s hair profile, hair care goals and lifestyle. Additionally, they get to choose their preferred colour as well. “People like the fact that something can be made for them, so they don't have to use multiple products to address problems. They can get that from one product. Our customers are more evolved. They don’t want to compromise. They usually lie in the 22 - 32 age group and are working women, mostly living in metros. However, because of word of mouth promotions, our customer base includes other age groups as well,” he says.
While all three entrepreneurs feel that the trend of customisation in the beauty and cosmetic industry will become more pronounced in the coming years, we wonder if these products are certified, and therefore, safe to use. Mohit says that, while his products do not have certifications of their own, they keep a close watch on the raw materials used as this influences the quality of the product. “We source our raw materials from top companies, and those products come with their own certifications, studies and data. We only source products that are accompanied by valid data,” he says. This is the route taken by Manissha as well, who says, “We see to it that the raw materials used are obtained from certified and trusted vendors.”