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Can Indian beauty find a seat at the global skincare table?

In the last 5 years, skincare has boomed globally as a segment due to the following trends:growing consumer interests in adopting new skincare routines and regimes, a rising focus on self-love and self-care products especially from a health perspective where skincare propagates the 'glow from within' idea in comparison to colour cosmetics as well as other beauty products and finally the influence of social media which is providing more information to consumers and creating awareness through 'skinfluencers' and beauty bloggers.

According to McKinsey & Company skincare is the largest beauty segment worldwide and in 2019 dominated 30% of the entire beauty sector. It has been growing year-on-year by 6.4%, to a $140 billion in 2019 according to Euromonitor. The Covid-19 pandemic, has definitely caused a surge in these numbers as a lot of these trends have accelerated during this time with more consumers having been under lockdown and have had more time to not only shop online but also indulge even deeper into more self-care practices.

While western countries have always been at the forefront of these innovations. Currently it is the Asia-Pacific market that is actually creating waves from J-beauty or Japanese beauty regimes which have also been around for a long time to the ever growing influence of K-beauty or Korean beauty regimes which have taken the world by storm. Due to the new found spread of Korean pop-culture in the last couple of years from Korean food, drama, make-up to music and movies, social media has helped to enhance this trend further amongst the gen-z and young millennials globally who are finding an exotic yet minimalist approach with k-beauty regimes. K-beauty has brought about the flexibility in skincare, with one out of five products being face sheet masks according to CNN Health. In fact, the growing popularity of k-beauty has also reached India with Nykaa jumping on the bandwagon and introducing k-beauty products to the Indian consumers.

Amongst the other popular skin-care routines globally a developing skincare industry has been spotted in Africa and introduced as A-beauty. This beauty regime takes from its natural roots and uses ingredients like Moringa, Argan Oil and Shea Butter which can be easily found in Africa. The rise of A-beauty raises the question about why Indian beauty which also has similar routines and has an age-old usage in our culture is not formalised enough to have a seat at the skin-care table globally.

In our podcast (released in August 2021) we explore different skin-care regimes currently popular in the world and understand the cultural phenomenons that have caused this popularity from k-beauty to A- beauty. We explore the problems associated with the lack of having Indian skincare products as it touches on the subject of brown skin which is very different in texture from black skin or white caucasian skin or even south east-asian skin types due to weather conditions and other ethnic variations.

We reminisce about skin-care routines passed down to us by our mothers and grandmothers using natural Indian ingredients such as 'Haldi' (Turmeric) , 'Tulsi' (Neem) , 'Methi' seeds (Fenugreek), 'Multani Mitti' (Multani Soil) which can be mixed into a mask. We imagine that this is a ritual that is passed on in most Indian households and is extremely multi-cultural and multi-generational which can be the story binder behind Indian skincare. These ingredients also have medicinal properties and are very helpful also proven scientifically at improving the skin, helping as lightening agents and removing acne as well.

Currently due to the increase in clinical skincare products, we propose a solution towards the amalgamation of clinical skincare methods alongside the natural Indian ingredients which certain brands in India such as Kama Ayurveda and Forest Essentials have already undertaken and expanding on that, to make them more affordable to the Indian consumer and also focus on creating products that solve more skin problems associated with brown skin such as hyper-pigmentation and hyper sensitivity. This would aid to open up these solutions to an entire brown clientele not only in India but to other countries with similar skin types such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Shri Lanka as well as the widespread Indian diaspora.

We propose a solution that involves more research and development by Indian skincare companies towards making products that also can possibly be customised to different weather conditions as in India itself one can observe the climatic condition to be different from the north to the south; where in the north the weather is more dry and down south one can experience more humidity.

While the investment required towards such innovation can be extremely significant,Indian skin-care brands like Mama Earth, Wow Skin Science, Plum have managed to attract funding from venture capital which has helped them to scale pan India. For instance, the brand Wow Skin Science owned by Fit & Glow Health Care Pvt.Ltd raised $50 million from private equity firm Chrys Capital. Alongside competitor brand Mamaearth owned by Honasa Consumer Pvt.Ltd was in talks to raising $100 million. Not only from venture capital firms, currently the climate for start-ups in India is very favourable and the government is pushing eagerly for 'Made in India' solutions to improve the innovation standards of the country. In 2020, the government launched a ' Atmanirbhar Bhart Abhiyaan' or a 'self-reliant India' scheme to aid businesses across different sectors by offering tax benefits and improving supply chain facilities for more manufacturing processes to be carried out in India which can boost the Indian economy further and encourage more businesses to crop up.

While aid and ideas towards a more skin developed India are plenty, the need for these ideas to transcend into existence is yet to be seen that can give India a seat at the global beauty table. Using innovative marketing techniques and building stories around our culture can foster a deeper bond with brown citizens.



The Ken: Mamaearth, WOW Skin Science, and the Indian skincare glow up

Invest India: Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan | Self-reliant India Campaign

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