In India they know how to care for the skin. For thousands of years they have done so using natural and sustainable methods. New consumer trends around the world – including in India – and a growing preference for greener, organic products free of synthetic ingredients, point to a great future for Ayurvedic cosmetics.
Ayurveda, which in Sanskrit approximately means “science of life”, is the traditional philosophy regarding health in India. This ancient form of medicine emphasizes balance between body, mind and nature. It is the most widely used traditional medicine system, with almost half a million Ayurvedic doctors and 2,500 Ayurvedic hospitals. A typical Ayurvedic formula may contain more than 20 medicinal herbs and spices, selected from among the 2,700 used in India. In fact, the Indian Ministry of Health officially recognizes 418 plants.
In India, the situation is the same as in the West: the cosmetics industry is mainly based on synthetic or processed ingredients that are generally more stable, practical and economical than natural ingredients. Most of the top-selling brands in India are the same as in Europe or USA. India is a market composed of 1,200 million people, with experts predicting that by 2028 it will have overtaken China as the world’s most populous country. However, “only” 20 million Indians use branded cosmetics.
But things are changing, mainly because of the growing purchasing power of the middle classes, the growing interest of men in their personal appearance and the influence of Western trends. In recent years, the Indian cosmetic market has turned back towards the well-known traditional and natural ingredients that have been used for centuries.
In the last decade, local companies have struggled to convert ancient Ayurvedic recipes into modern, easy-to-use and high-quality formulas. And will continue to do so. Today Indians buy brands such as Himalaya, Forest Essentials, Boutique, Blossom Kochhar, VLCC, Dabur and Lotus, manufactured by companies that formulate products based on medicinal plants.
According to recent studies, the Ayurvedic cosmetics market has only just started to develop and will grow rapidly in the coming decades. Many new brands will occupy the gaps left by the competition.
Manufacturers in this sub-sector conduct ongoing research to obtain high-quality Ayurvedic cosmetics and technologies that can compete on an equal footing with standard non-Ayurvedic brands that use synthetic ingredients.
And consumers are changing their preferences – towards personal care products whose philosophy promises care for both the inside and the outside. Indian women no longer buy generic creams but demand more specialist products. Now they tend to acquire facial creams, scrubs and even skin bleaching creams – all Ayurvedic , naturally.
Another factor that very much favors the expansion of Ayurvedic cosmetics is the globalization of markets and online shopping. All it needs is for European and American consumers, following the current “green wave”, to decide that Ayurvedic products are better for their health, beauty, inner balance and the future of the planet.