How returning to India changed the way I consume beauty

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If our skin is a reflection of our inner wellbeing, then caring for our skin should be inseparably entwined with caring for our overall health. My beauty journey began right before I moved to the United Kingdom roughly four years ago. I remember stepping into a Boots store for the first time, staring at the Elizabeth Arden aisle, attempting to make sense of what all the products do. I ended up buying an armful: a cleanser, a hydration spray, a few sheet masks, and a thick moisturising face cream.

I wasn’t certain of what I was getting into, yet the tiny progressions these products brought to my skin had me suddenly fixated on beauty and skincare. Not only did I began feeling great about my skin, but I felt more confident and optimistic from the inside as well as the outside.

Ever since that first transformative foray into the world of skincare, I have religiously practiced my routine day and night, regardless of when or where I travel. I’ve tested endless brands, products and textures as a committed skincare lover.

But things were set to change when, seven months ago – in the frenzy of the growing global pandemic – I moved back to India and vowed to help local businesses by leaving behind my beloved Western products and embracing the wealth of Ayurvedic skincare options made in my home country. Wonderfully, this journey of supporting home-grown labels turned out to be one of the best decisions I’d ever made for myself and my skin: Indian – or I-beauty – products changed the game for me.

For context, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old medicinal science that originated in India, which is dependent on daily self-care rituals like meditation and a healthy diet to keep the brain and body in balance. A close companion to the more famous Indian practice of yoga, the principles of Ayurvedic healing are based on skin types known as ‘doshas’. These are the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – the three basic doshas that are a blend of the five components known as air, space, fire, water, and earth that characterise the assortment of psychological, emotional, and physical characteristics of an individual. Therefore, a person’s Ayurvedic skin type can be Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, or even a combination of two of these doshas.

Vata skin is usually dry, dehydrated, and vulnerable to cool weather, as opposed to Pitta skin, which is redder in tone and prone to more spots and moles. Kapha skin can be thicker, oilier, and more tolerant of the sun. I have a combination skin type, so I follow the rituals based on Vatta-Kapha doshas.

I would be lying if I said that the transition from my well-ingrained Western skincare rituals to Ayurveda was easy – in fact, it was one of the hardest things I had to change about my daily routine since moving from West to East. Embracing Ayurveda isn’t simply about switching products: it’s an entire process of supporting mind, body, and soul and becoming in tune with your body’s needs. Alongside new beauty items, specialists I spoke to proposed different strategies to improve my complexion. For instance, my day now begins with a glass of lemon and mint water to rid toxins and hydrate my skin, followed by a 15-20 minute meditation. After this comes my new, abbreviated skincare routine.

In the UK, my daily beauty regime comprised of washing my face with two different textures of cleanser, followed by vitamin C and collagen face serums, a face mask or sheet mask treatment, hydration spray, eye gel, sun protection, and a thick moisturiser as the base for my make-up. Now, I simply wash my face with a foamy Ayurvedic face wash, followed by a pure rosewater spray, and a mud-pack (on the areas with blemishes), before applying aloe vera gel as a moisturiser instead of face cream. The routine I follow now feels better, more natural, and less time-consuming – plus, the fact that every product is locally grown and not tested on animals gives me a great sense of relief.

Since moving back to India, I’ve realised that simplicity is the ultimate luxury. Using these natural and raw products gave me a sense of lightness – and, most importantly, without any unwanted side effects. Turns out everything I have ever needed to keep my skin gleaming and healthy has been right in front of me all along.

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