Fashion | The Good And The Beautiful

< Back To Article                    
The Good And The Beautiful
Text by Faye Remedios
Published: Volume 17, Issue 8, August, 2009

Glamour and moolah go hand in hand with a strong sense of ethics and social responsibility for many Indian beauty brands, reports Faye Remedios

Believing that you can change the world by choosing what you put in your vanity case is increasingly becoming a long-standing commitment for beauty companies and buyers alike. International biggies like M.A.C and The Body Shop are not the only ones pioneering the cause for beauty with a purpose. Some of our homegrown brands also follow the mantra Beauty with Substance. Verve profiles the best along with their ‘Ethical Quotient’ or EQ.

Different Strokes

The Brand: Colorbar’s inspiration is the millennium woman who believes in expressing her many moods and desires through the colours she adorns. The Philosophy: “Colorbar designs its repertoire to redefine the chic and sensual woman,” says Samir Modi, Managing Director, Colorbar cosmetics. With a contemporary colour palette, the aim is to capture the changing hues of international runways yet still appeal to the Indian woman.



Set up by Modi in 2008, the Colorbar AIDS FUND supports the cause of people living with HIV/AIDS. At the end of each month, 100 per cent of the net proceeds from DIVA (the line supporting HIV/AIDS) are given to the Colorbar AIDS fund that provides funding to non-profit HIV/AIDS organisations and programs for basic needs such as food, clothing, housing or shelter, direct services related to healthcare and programs that bring HIV/ AIDS education, awareness and prevention to the public attention. “While the incidence of HIV/AIDS is more common among men, an alarming find is that women are socially and economically more vulnerable. Added to their woes are also aspects such as social discrimination and the additional problem of transmitting the virus to their children. The Colorbar AIDS Fund is intrinsic to our belief of making a difference and giving back to society,” says Modi.


Best Sellers

  • Triple Act Compact that combines the benefits of a foundation, compact and concealer all in one step
  • Shimmer Bar, a multipurpose highlighter
  • Soft Touch Lipstick
  • Metallic Collection

Healing Touch

The Brand: On a visit to Burma in 1930, Himalaya’s founder, M. Manal saw restless elephants being fed a herb to pacify them. Fascinated by the plant’s effect on elephants, he had it scientifically tested. After researching the herb, Serpina, the world’s first natural antihypertensive drug was launched in 1934. Driven by a vision to bring the 5000-year old Indian medicinal system of Ayurveda to society in a contemporary form, research remains a cornerstone at Himalaya.

The Philosophy: Himalaya’s product development philosophy discourages ‘chasing a trend’. They have been in the business of developing scientifically proven herbal products for over 70 years now, much before herbals or naturals became a trend.

The thrust of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative is on economic empowerment of the less privileged sections of society. They have identified small and marginal farmers across India who can collect or cultivate herbs for the brand, organically and sustainably. With the help of local NGOs, Himalaya is building a network of small farmers, including women’s self-help groups, who can procure herbs on a regular basis. As part of the contract farming agreement, Himalaya provides technical assistance to the farmers, training them in good agricultural practices, sustainable herb collection and organic farming by a team of expert agricultural scientists. The contract farming arrangement helps create an alternative and stable source of income for the farmers. Himalaya also actively promotes environmental awareness. They have partnered with the US based organisation, Trees for the Future, to plant trees in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Through the Neem for Life initiative, they raise awareness about the medicinal and environmental benefits of the neem plant. Their environmental initiatives also focus on reducing carbon footprint, recycling and waste management.

Best Sellers

  • Himalaya’s Purifying Neem Face Wash
  • Anti-Wrinkle Cream
  • Revitalising Cream
  • Nourishing Skin Cream

Shahnaz Husain
Freedom From Chemicals

The Brand: A pioneer in Ayurvedic beauty care, the Shahnaz Husain Group currently operates in more than 100 countries. Today it’s the largest organisation of its kind in the world, with a global chain of franchise ventures, as well as over 350 formulations for beauty and health care.

The Philosophy: “While training in London in cosmetology and cosmetic chemistry from leading institutions of the West, I came across instances of damage caused by chemical treatments. I was determined to find an alternative that’s safe and without risks,” says Shahnaz Husain, founder, chairperson and managing director of The Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies.

The Shahnaz Husain Group dedicates itself to social causes and is committed towards empowering the less privileged and the physically handicapped, through Shamute and Shasight, free beauty training courses for the deaf and mute as well as the visually challenged. The training has helped provide career opportunities to such physically challenged students. Shamute was started in 1984, while Shasight came into existence in 2008. These courses are offered by the Shahnaz Husain International Beauty Academy in Delhi. “We have teachers who are specially trained to teach students with such physical handicaps. There are four month courses round the year with 15 students per batch. Courses are free of charge and subject to availability of seats. At the end of the course, students receive the Shahnaz Husain Beauty Diploma. This gives them an opportunity to find jobs in other beauty salons or work for a Shahnaz Husain salon,” explains Husain.

Best Sellers

  • Shalife Nourishing cream
  • 24 Carat Gold Range
  • Pearl Range
  • Diamond Collection
  • Chocolate Range
  • Shaeyes, herbal kajal

Conserving To Care

The Brand: Wellness brand Tathaastu believes in the earth and its goodness. Conservation and collective consciousness forms the base of all its products.
The Philosophy: “Our brand philosophy is about holistic wellness. It is a lifestyle change rather than a feel-good factor. Remaining true to our USP of being 100 per cent natural and fresh, Tathaastu does not use any preservatives (though this means lowering the shelf life) but use oils that are extracted from nature itself - be it the flowers, leaves, bark of a plant.” says Divita Kanoria, chief wellness officer, Tathaastu. They do not believe in making animals guinea pigs to test products and also use recyclable packaging material.

Tathaastu supports Shikshaantra, a remedial education and adult education programme by Khushii (an NGO that is spearheaded by Kapil Dev). The main objective of this project is to teach those who have never attended school, or those who have dropped out of school due to varied reasons. Attempts are made to integrate the dropouts into mainstream schooling and to regenerate the lost interest of these children in studies. Khushii also aims to help achieve economic development by imparting functional literacy to adults in rural areas. “We earmark a certain percentage of our profit/revenue for knowledge creation. We totally believe in this because we think that knowledge only can create a holistic feeling of wellbeing within our communities, society and the country at large. In fact we launched Tathaastu on the 24th of July at a fundraiser evening for Khushii,” says Kanoria. To take this mission forward they are also working on providing scholarships to underprivileged children by evaluating their performances in school.

Best Sellers

  • Face Washes (Neem, Aloe, Almond, Orange and Saffron)
  • Paraben & Sulphate Free Shower Gels and Shampoos
  • Rose Water
  • Hair Oils for Dandruff, Alopecia, Dull and Lifeless Hair

Forest Essentials
Nurture With Nature

The Brand: Working in collaboration with a team of expert Ayurvedic physicians based in the Himalayan retreat of Rishikesh, Forest Essentials has since 2000 created unique natural skin and hair care products issued from age-old formulations. Because unadulterated substances have exceptional purifying, nutritive and balancing properties, Forest Essentials uses exclusively organically grown vegetables and plants and pure cold-pressed essential oils.

Since 2008 a partnership with Estée Lauder has brought to Forest Essentials the most sophisticated technology and through this partnership, the brand also enjoys the expertise of Estée Lauder’s network of research and development centers around the world.

The Philosophy: Forest Essentials offers a whole range of easy-to-use cosmetic products that are free from petrochemicals, sulphates, synthetic colors, alcohol, parabens and animal products. “When people purchase a product from Forest Essentials, they do more than simply buy a moisturiser or a bottle of massage oil. They connect with Indian tradition and heritage. This heritage goes beyond beauty, it is a whole lifestyle and in this sense Forest Essentials is more than a brand, it is a lifestyle,” says Mira Kulkarni, managing director.

Community-related activities include employing and giving preference to local labour in order to contribute to the community where the plants are based (villages of Uttarakhand and Haridwar). The company particularly encourages women’s labour. “Initially women’s labour was not the norm in the villages where our manufacturing plants are located but little by little women started coming and currently represent about 20 per cent of the work force. We hope to increase this as much as we can,” says Kulkarni. Environment-related activities comprise encouraging organic farming, as they only use organic plants to make the cold-pressed oils which are the base of most of their products. They only use recyclable plastics in the packaging and the recently-opened plant in Haridvar was entirely designed in an eco-friendly way in order to minimise energy use and maximise natural light and features energy-saving light bulbs everywhere, an in-house system to filter the waste water and an eco-friendly generator that generates less exhaust gases. All the solid waste, notably packaging, goes to scrap recycling.

Best Sellers

  • The Hydrating Sea Salt Crystal Rose Body Polisher
  • The Organic Fruit Face Scrub
  • The Jasmine and Aloe Vera Tonic Mist

Ayurveda Revisited

The Brand: Iraya’s founding company, Sadatan Laboratories was established in 1980 as an R&D centre to study the principles of Ayurveda with a scientific, modern approach. The brand was launched in 2006 to bridge the gap for high-end Ayurvedic products. As the factory is located just outside Nagpur in Maharashtra, the pristine forests, the foothills of the Satpura mountains and the fertile valleys of the Narmada river gives them access to a variety of the freshest, rarest herbs, flowers, fruits, plants and organic rich soil.

The Philosophy: Iraya, translated from Sanskrit means ‘from the earth’ and was born out of the belief that the path to beauty and wellness is through the harmony and balance of the mind and body with the soul. “We believe in creating the right balance of the mind and body with the soul through our products. It is this philosophy that finds its way in every Iraya product,” says Rahul Kale, director, Iraya.

The Iraya Education Project includes training programmes for farmers and gatherers to limit the use of synthetic fertilisers and minimise the dependence on other chemical inputs like pesticides, herbicides and other agro chemicals. Helps increase rural employment by equipping more villagers with knowledge of advanced farming methods. The Iraya Rural Development Project lays down processes to improve agricultural methods and boost production output per hectare. Works with farmers to help them find markets where they can get better returns on their product than through regular channels. The Iraya Cure Project works closely with doctors and practitioners in Nagpur to donate part of the production of the therapeutic formulations like Mahanarayana Taila for the benefit of those who need them. This product is very beneficial for musculo-skeletal and joint problems, and hence has had the highest demand being an expensive treatment oil.

Best Sellers

  • Nutrifying Facial Oil
  • Kumkumadi Taila
  • Anti Ageing Serum
  • Manjistha Eye Contour Gel
  • Mahanarayan Taila

The Nature’s Co.
Purity First

The Brand: In the late 60s, an old Indian matriarch was faced with a medical problem – her son had dental pyorrhea. She used her age-old wisdom, imbibed from the ancient Indian text of Ayurveda ,and formulated a toothpowder which cured her son. What set out as an old woman’s journey to alleviate her son’s ailment has today manifested into Amar Remedies Ltd., the parent company that is a manufacturer of personal health care products. Inspired by the founding members and following the same principles and passion, Natasha Shah researched and created The Nature’s Co.

The Philosophy: The Nature’s Co.’s brand philosophy stems from the time when nature did rule over our existence. Before man discovered advanced survival techniques, he lived off the five purest forms of nature – air, sun, water, earth and forest. These forms have inspired five distinct ranges of body and bath products: Atmospure, Starrize, Foressence, Earthborne and Aquaspark designed to soothe your mind, body and soul. “At The Nature’s Co. - the inspiration is nature and only natural, luxurious products for the skin, hair and body will be found,” explains Shah.

To conserve natural resources, the product development and design teams have taken extra care to ensure that the packaging uses only materials such as glass, PP, PETG and acrylic which are user friendly, recyclable or biodegradable. They also have the Eco Barrel Concept which aims at encouraging people to be responsible and environmentally and socially conscious. Customers need to bring back any three used containers and they can avail a discount on their next purchase. The company has tied up with packaging vendors where they send all the used bottles to them and they process it with the other material at their end. In addition to this, all the paper bags and stationery are made using recycled, eco-friendly paper. Besides, The Nature’s Co. products are PETA certified, which means that the company is completely vegan friendly and also practices non-cruelty to animals. “We do not use any kind of animal derived ingredients in our products, not even milk, honey, beeswax and lanolin which form the most important ingredient in any kind of skin care product,” says Shah. This philosophy is also extended to their vendors where they ensure that even they are not into any kind of animal testing.

Best Sellers

  • Coffee Face Scrub
  • Sea Fennel Body Wash
  • Sunflower Body Wash
  • Marshmallow Day Cream
  • Garlic Anti-Acne Cream
  • Lily Of The Valley Body Lotion
  • Nori Body Lotion
  • Raspberry Face Wash
  • Corn Exfoliating Face Pack

Kama Ayurveda
Desired Values

The Brand: Kama Ayurveda is an Ayurvedic company manufacturing pure ayurvedic products formulated according to exacting Ayurvedic prescriptions with organically grown herbal ingredients. Kama means desire and Ayurveda, the knowledge of life. Hence, the slogan: Pure Desire – Pure Harmony.

The Philosophy: “We emphasise the harmony between the physical, mental and spiritual realms – the whole being,” says director Vivek Sahni. Key strengths: products that work, real authentic Ayurvedic products, natural ingredients and pure essential oils as well as stringent quality checks and certification.

The Ayurvedic products are made by the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP) with Ayurvedic hospitals all over India. AVP is a Trust that is involved in many things including treating people for free in an Ayurvedic hospital, running a school, college, orphanage and a training centre for Ayurveda. The manufacturing facility also conducts programmes for village women in 24 villages of the Puthussery panchayat based on a selected syllabus and for village women in other neighbouring villages. The Mortar and Pestle boxes are made through a co-operative of craftspeople of the desert province of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. Kama packaging is all recyclable and eco-friendly. In addition, at the Health Care Division, daily free medical consultation is available at the centre. One medical camp is organised once in every two months in remote villages. A semi-processing unit of herbal medicine helps provide medicines to patients. Kama Products are given away to orphanages for the underprivileged to use.

Best Sellers

  • Intensive Hair Treatment Bringadi
  • Miraculous Beauty Fluid Kumkumadi
  • Soap-Free Face Cleanser Mridul
  • Kama Ayurveda Pure Rose Water

Subscribe to Verve Magazine or buy the Verve issue on stands now!