Indian Ingredients and Brands That Will Transform Your Skin
There’s no denying it, Indian ingredients are changing mainstream beauty.
(Originally published on Beautyocracy.com, 2022)
When speaking about Indian beauty rituals, the word “ancient” is often used. It’s common to refer to ingredients and practices that developed over centuries as if they are outdated or only relevant to the past but, contrary to popular belief, these beauty technologies are more alive than ever. Thanks to Indian founders launching their own skincare brands, Indian ingredients are becoming household names in the West, and are joining the ranks of what’s considered to be modern for beauty formulations. The most well-known ingredient that has gained attention in recent years, both for internal and topical use, is turmeric. Its vibrant color and impressive anti-inflammatory potential caught the attention of beauty and wellness fans who previously never considered the effectiveness of Indian beauty rituals before. That initial interest and the launch of new skincare brands is expanding an awareness of Indian ingredients in the mainstream. Founders are referencing their ancestral roots and upbringing to create divine formulations and are welcoming beauty fans on a journey of discovery with them, resulting in establishing the popularity of ingredients in the West that weren’t present before.
A Vitamin C powerhouse that has been renowned for centuries, amla has been used in India as an antioxidant and as a key component of a common internal remedy called triphala (which translates to “three fruits”). In the West, the use of amla in skincare products has been relatively unheard of until recently and its rise in desirability makes perfect sense with a steady increase in interest in topical Vitamin C. Amla, also known as ‘Indian Gooseberry’ or ‘amalaki’ in Sanskrit, has been used in traditional hair growth and skincare formulas that can be found at Indian grocery stores, but is also now appearing in high-end serums and treatments for its brightening, protective, and regenerative properties.
Many Indian skincare ingredients that are gaining recognition are also relied upon for internal benefits and ashwagandha is no exception. The root has both Indian and African origins and is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ which, to put it very simply, means it assists the body in handling stress. Topically, ashwagandha is known to encourage collagen production, calm irritation, and impart antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Combating breakouts and acne while soothing the skin are some of the potential benefits and the internal stress-relieving qualities can also have a positive impact on the surface of the skin.
Rose is one of the most loved natural ingredients in the skincare industry overall but, when it comes to Indian traditions, its use is taken to a whole other level. Rose is renowned in Indian culture for its associations with emotional support and skin nourishing qualities; the aroma combined with cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties makes it a versatile and adored option when making formulations for any skin type. Rose water, rose oil, and rose powder are just some of the many ways rose takes form and can be incorporated into skincare routines in endless combinations. Rose is most popularly used as a toner (in the form of rose water), but can also be found in serums, salves, balms, essences, and treatments. It has something to offer no matter what form it takes.
Gotu Kola (go-two ko-la)
A much lesser-known herb than rose, Gotu kola is a key remedy in the traditional Indian system of healing known as Ayurveda, and is also widely used throughout the rest of Asia. The plant provides nutrients that are beneficial for cognitive health, circulation, and memory and, much like its internal effects, has a multifaceted impact on the skin. Gotu kola has a high concentration of antioxidants that provide protection from free radical damage and gives the skin an increased defense against environmental stressors such as air pollution. It also stimulates circulation and may improve the speed and efficiency of skin healing, decreasing the likelihood of scarring and long-lasting pigmentation. In the West, this herb is clearly proving ancient, Eastern tradition can be a match for modern cosmetic chemistry. Add this ingredient to your routine and test the effects, but make sure not to miss ‘Centella asiatica’ on skincare ingredient lists – it’s Gotu kola’s Latin name.
A cherished and beloved ingredient in Indian culture, saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus sativus flower – a small, purple, and white striped flower that has a preference for growing in warmer climates. This precious ingredient is highly sought after and generally comes at a higher price point, not only because of the intensive labor required for harvesting, but also its multitude of benefits. Saffron has a rich history spanning thousands of years and crossing continents. It’s a staple in India, but is held in high regard as far as Europe and the Middle East. Saffron’s vibrant orange-red color embodies the strength and potency of its offerings, from a high antioxidant content and UV-protective qualities to the ability to reduce inflammation and hyperpigmentation in sensitive skin. Its pigment, captivating nature, and gentle benefits are clearly one-of-a-kind, making it an undeniably beautiful ingredient for skincare.
Indian beauty is a complex world that has existed for thousands of years, but is only now trickling into the mainstream skincare industry in the West. The divine ingredients that have graced formulations in Indian stores and homes, whether homemade or imported from overseas, are tried and true and have been put to the test for centuries. This wealth of knowledge and value is what makes Eastern rituals and ingredients so appealing and, as first and second-generation founders feel empowered to share their traditions by designing skincare lines for everyone to enjoy, the effectiveness of Indian ingredients will become increasingly appreciated and acknowledged.