Hear the word Ayurveda, and it immediately sends you on a sensorial journey—one dominated by familiar earthy scents, a dimly lit kitchen, and the warm embrace of your grandmother’s voice. Entrenched in ancient tradition and scriptures, Ayurvedic beauty rituals have been a long-standing legacy in Indian households. Fast forward to the 21st century, the amalgamation of the old and new through technologically advanced formulas and Ayurvedic beauty found its home in the lap of luxury. The marriage of these two contrasting worlds may feel amiss—but how does the saying go? Opposites attract. Perhaps that’s what makes luxury Ayurveda such a perfect match.
Scripture Meets Skin
Ayurveda, also known as the ‘knowledge of life’, was never ‘beauty’ centric to begin with. According to the founder of Forest Essentials, Mira Kulkarni, it is one of the oldest systems of health-care and healing and has been deeply ingrained into the Indian way of life. And she would know best, being the pioneer of the luxury Ayurveda segment, with Forest Essentials. “The ancient Ayurvedic scriptures seamlessly integrated skincare formula-tions, ingredients, dietary habits, and lifestyle practices based on the seasons,” she explains. “Ayurveda presents a collaborative approach to organic beauty that works on three levels—outer perfection, inner beauty and ‘Ojas’ or the charisma of absolute beauty, reflected in inner vitality, lustrous hair, glowing skin, clear shining eyes, and an ‘inner fire’.”For RANAVAT founder Michelle Ranavat, beauty is a very personal concept, and people have come to realise that the journey begins from within. Considering that Ayurveda has championed this very concept for generations, she says it’s the need of the hour, especially in this modern world.The mantra is simple—Ayurveda is for everyone to be happy, healthy, and to heal from nature, and Nikita Mehta, co-founder and creative director of Fable & Mane, believes this to be true. “The Western approach to beauty has shifted more towards natural and holistic solutions and wellness. That’s why consumers are turning to Ayurveda to heal their mind, body and spirit,” she says.
Living It Luxe
In the past, Ayurvedic beauty has seen two extreme sides of the spectrum—handcrafted concoctions fresh out of the kitchen and mass-produced products that, while effective, weren’t all that pleasant to use. Spotting this massive gap in the market, Kulkarni revolutionised the luxury Ayurvedic beauty market in India by introducing Forest Essentials. “Back in 2000, there was no market for freshly-prepared recipes with pure ingredients using Ayurvedic guidelines. I realised that substandard ingredients and adulterated oils were used to keep the prices low. I was, however, certain that I would buy a product if I knew it was absolutely pure and that there would be many others like me who would be happy to pay for quality.”
According to her, luxury lies in the details, creating a memorable experience for the consumer.Ayurveda wasn’t meant to be a luxurious practice. It was medicinal. Practical. But, the collision was no accident. When talking about the gap that prevented Ayurveda from becoming luxury for long, Mehta says that remedies were time-consuming to prepare and practise. Considering hair oiling as an example, she makes her point, “You would have to boil the oil overnight, add the herbs, massage it into your hair and leave it overnight before washing it out.” Now, formulas are more lightweight and practical and fit into modern, daily life—and this is what drives the market for luxury Ayurveda—the ability to provide results using traditional methods without being an inconvenience. Ranavat adds, “Luxury isn’t in just the packaging but the ingredients, the sensorial nature of the products and the full experience of a brand from start to finish. We bring luxury to life through these elements but keep the essence of Ayurveda alive through the ingredients.”
The Price To Pay
One would assume that selling luxury Ayurveda to Indians would be like selling ice to an Eskimo. Not quite. “Perception is everything. Over the years, we have been able to change the perception of Ayurveda from being non-pleasurable and medicinal by pioneering the combination of exceptionally efficacious principles and authentic recipes of Ayurveda with modern formulations,” Kulkarni explains. Across the globe, people of Indian origin are proud of Ayurvedic beauty products in the mainstream luxury market. People suddenly have this innate need to go back to their roots and dive into traditions that date back centuries. The combination of result-driven products that are experiential as well as practical makes luxury Ayurveda a growing market. “They know that Ayurveda works, so when you pair it with innovative, modern formulas that really work, people want to try it,” Mehta adds.The market for luxury Ayurveda is far from saturated in India and overseas, and all three entrepreneurs agree that Ayurvedic beauty rituals will evolve going forward. The concept of Ayurveda is embracing corners of the world, and indulging in this sensorial journey will only continue to expand with time. It is a way of life, after all.
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