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The best organic beauty brands in India right now

Healthy eating for your skin

  • The first time you use a non-foaming face wash, you feel the marketing might of the beauty industry. Thanks to the TV ads, we now associate cleanliness with suds and a squeaky sound. This becomes a challenge for small-batch, organic beauty brands pitching products that act nothing like we expect them to. They’re pricier than and not as handy as their drugstore counterparts, have a shorter shelf life and the fragrance doesn’t linger all day. And no sulphates means no sexy foam. But that is their allure as far as the fans are concerned.Among the loyal customer base for Mumbai-based Skin Pantry are women recovering from breast cancer and those suffering eczema. Equally keen are those in the market for child-safe skin and hair care products. Even those of us without special requirements find something reassuring about a body scrub that’s 100 per cent apricot kernel and nothing else. If your exfoliator can get rid of dead skin and provide sustainable livelihoods to women in Himalayan villages, then you’ve really earned your glow.

    Kronokare

    This online store is all about the aromatherapy. Each skin, hair and home product contains a healthy glug of essential oils. Kronokare doesn’t claim to be organic or completely natural, but there are no aggravating chemicals (mostly botanical extracts) and no bunnies are harmed. Founder Cyril Feuillebois used to own a spa but the challenge of sourcing quality Indian products to stock it with turned him onto a whole other business. The hottest sellers are the Chill Pill Cooling massage oil, which is light enough to leave on your skin, and the Anti Turm City Repair hair oil with notes of lavender, rosemary and geranium. Rest easy: No parabens,sulphates, mineral oils or silicone; no sweatshop labour;no animal products or testing. Available at Kronokare.com.

    Kronokare The Chill Pill Cooling Massage Oil, Rs 745

    Just Herbs

    This skin, hair and bath line is based on formulations refined over a decade by Dr Neena Chopra, biochemist, naturopath and Ayurveda expert. But in a notoriously unregulated industry, Just Herbs stands out simply by making claims that are vetted by French agency ECOCERT. Just Herbs takes the organic promise seriously, too. Chopra says, “Not only do organic ingredients like whole plants, waxes, butters and cold-pressed vegetable oils have a high nutritive value, they are also better absorbed by the skin.” He recommends their ‘6-step regimen’ which includes SPF and brightening creams, customised for your skin type. Rest easy: No sulphates, parabens, GMOs, bleaching agents; certified organic; no animal testing. Available at Justherbs.in.

    Just Herbs Silk skin Moisturising Cream, Rs 795

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  • The Skin Pantry

    It started as an organic diet to calm the effects of menopause, but pretty soon Colette Austin decided to purge harsh chemicals from all areas of her life. Finding almost no options in the beauty department lead her to experimenting with scrumptious things—Madagascan vanilla, Burmese mango butter, marula oil—along the general principle that what’s good enough to go in your body, is good enough to go on it. While Austin’s foody skincare line has loyal fans around the world she still prefers to works out of her kitchen. The Vanilla Bean Drench moisturiser, by the way, is exactly as decadent as it sounds.Rest easy: No parabens, sulphates or phthalates; certified organic ingredients; no animal testing. Available at Facebook.com/theskinpantry.

    The Skin Pantry Rhassoul Clay face mask,Rs 1,026

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  • Do Bandar

    The only one on this list to make an erotic massage oil that doubles as lube,Do Bandar is a brand with a sense of fun. First, there’s the name, then the fact that they have a golden retriever on their quality control team. They have a pet care range so it’s a totally practical business decision, no doubt. A dentist by training, founder Mayura Kadur got interested in chemical-free beauty when she first learned how easy it was to make soap the natural way. Four years later, Do Bandar also offers TLC to tired feet, skin, hair and paws. Kadur works with Ayurvedic physicians to create recipes that are then manufactured with the help of a small, all-women team. Kadur says, “All our ingredients are locally sourced and very Indian.” She swears some customers have tried to eat their Citrus Sugar body scrub because it smells so good. Rest easy: No chemicals; all-natural food-grade ingredients; eco-friendly packaging. Available at Dobandar.in.

    Do Bandar Citrus Sugar Scrub, Rs 375

    Do Bandar Bath Oil, Rs 375

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  • Jhelum Loves

    In December last year, journalist Jhelum Bose’s gardener brought her 10 kilos of organic honey, which gave her an idea for a Christmas gift. Daughter of a beautician and a lifelong lover of cosmetics, Bose concocted a face wash by blending the honey with a soap base, aloe gel and tea tree oil beads. It was a big hit with friends and inspired the birth of Jhelum Loves, a made-to-orderline of washes, oils and creams for the skin and hair. Bose uses her knowledge of Bach flower remedies, aromatherapy and chakra healing to create small batches, the most requested of which are Divinity, a custard-like face cream, and the lavender face mist. Rest easy: No parabens, low sulphate content; eco-harvested oils; no animal testing. To order or consult, call 098112 61250.

    Jhelum Loves, Soothsayer Face Mist, Rs. 475

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  • Ayca

    The recipes that pastry chef Mallyeka Watsa inherited from her great-grandmother are not for Sunday lunch, but for magic massage oils. They can blur stretch marks, easemuscle aches and even keep
    mosquitos away. Watsa uses these and other family secrets to create a skincare line for Ayca that’s rooted in Ayurveda and aromatherapy. She and co-founder Himani Singh create small, handcrafted batches using divine-smelling ingredients like oudh wood, bergamot and jasmine. Their perfumed aloe vera gels are popular with women, and men  love the oudh body wash. Rest easy: No parabens or SLS; natural ingredients; no animal testing. To order, write to talk@ayca.in

    Ayca Oudh Wood Body Wash, Rs 875

    Ma Earth Botanicals

    Geetanjali Sukh sometimes gets inquiries from people looking for skin-lightening creams. She explains patiently that they’re in the business of health, not quick fixes. With two experienced homeopaths at its helm, Geetanjali and her mother Swarn, Ma Earth is understandably interested in more than just making cosmetic changes. As the name suggests, they use plant and vegetable extracts to tackle specific issues like damaged hair, dryness and cellulite. The special oil blends claims to work even deeper to improve focus and treat conditions like ADHD. Rest easy: No chemical preservatives and additives or artificial fragrances; no parabens or sulphates. Available at Maearthbotanicals.com

    Ma Earth Botanicals Exfoliating Facial Scrub, Rs 875

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  • Gulnare

    You'll find the most far-flung strains of traditional medicine in their range—the founder Shonali Bedi has studied Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and ‘ancient Egyptian beauty secrets’. It’s translated into an organic, handmade skincare collection that’s surprisingly well priced given the ingredients (almond oil, saffron et al).Early adopters of this young brand (they’re less than a year old) love the Aloe & Vitamin E face cream and the Coffee Caramel body scrub. Karishma Bedi, who handles sourcing and marketing for Gulnare, says they’ll soon be launching a completely natural mineral make-up line. Rest easy: No chemical preservatives; no waste in the manufacturing process; organic ingredients; no animal testing. Available at Gulnareskincare.com.

    Gulnare Aloe + Vit E Face Cream, Rs 550

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  • Master blender

    Payal Thaker, blogger at YourBeautyPal.com, has designed the Makeup Perfector (YBPCosmetics.com), a multi-tasking, latex-free sponge that you can use to blend and apply concealer, foundation, bronzer, highlighter and even powder.

    Apricot crush

    The aromatic oil extracted from the kernel of plump little apricots is kind of miraculous: it’s a lightweight moisturiser, fights sun damage and soothes inflammation. Pahadi Local (Pahadilocal.com) and Junaili (Instamojo.com/Junaili),sustainably produce this oil and a body scrub made from the kernel meal that remains.

    Boutique scents

    There’s more than one Indian company with roots in the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, France. All Good Scents (Allgoodscents.com) has a reasonably priced range and let's you try samples in a free Scentbox. The new Bombay Perfumery (Bombayperfumery.com) offers India-inspired scents, like the cardamom-flavoured Calicut and the lemongrass-y Chai Musk.

    Cure all blends

    There’s an oil out there for whatever ails you: pigmentation, hair fall, the cruel march of time. Uma Oils (Umaoils.com) are made at a family-run farm in Chhattisgarh and have an A-list Hollywood fan club. Founder Shrankhla Holecek believes we all need to calm down about coconut oil now and give frankincense a try.

    Lip love 

    Skincafe.in makes balms, tints and scrubs using vegetable oils, waxes and butters. No petroleum jelly, artificial fragrances or mint flavouring that dries out your lips; plenty of nice-smelling essential oil. How good does Ginger Watermelon Sorbet lip butter sound!

     

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