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16 Apr

Meet the Brands Leading the Global Takeover of Indian-inspired

The worldwide beauty industry is on the point of a profound cultural reckoning. 

Propelled by the mixture of post-pandemic consumers’ heightened interest in self care and a recent wave of trailblazing brand founders distinctly positioned to satisfy these evolving needs, Indian-inspired beauty and the choice medicine system of Ayurveda are reaching — and resonating with — a wider global audience than ever before. 

On the core of most of the brands leading the charge (which include Prakti Beauty, Fable and Mane, Ranavat, Live Tinted, LilaNur Parfums and complement brand Taza Ayurveda, to call just a few) is a dedication to not only creating products but sharing stories. So, too, is a rigorously crafted East-meets-West sensibility intended to not only make long-held Indian traditions more universally approachable, but in lots of cases to reflect their founders’ own multifaceted identities. 

Take Pritika Swarup’s Prakti Beauty, for instance. Founded in 2021 by the Virginia-born model and Columbia University graduate, the brand goals to mix the “cultural richness and spirituality of India with contemporary energies and technologies.” 

This hybrid concept is represented in each facet of Prakti Beauty, from the brand’s name — a mashup of “Pritika” and “Shakti,” which mean “beloved one” and “female power” in Hindu, respectively — to its formulas, which present Indian skincare staples like rice, vetiver and ashwagandha in a way that’s accessible and comprehensible to anyone, partly through the brand’s educational ingredient and lifestyle blog The Priti Edit. 

Prakti Beauty products.


“We’re all hybrids in a way, we’re all multidimensional; as an Indian American, [Prakti Beauty] is about championing my culture, but in a way that feels fresh and is relatable to the ladies in my generation,” says Swarup, whose product lineup spans facial cleansers, exfoliators and coverings costing between $38 and $56, and which is able to soon be joined by a first-time foray into makeup.

To further Prakti Beauty’s commitment to uplifting Indian culture (and its originators), Swarup developed the Suman Saroj Initiative. Named after each of her grandmothers, this system employs local craftswomen in Lucknow, India, who create hand-embroidered accessories, akin to shawl-like headscarves called dupattas, available on the market on the Prakti Beauty website.

Pritika Swarup for Prakti Beauty.

Pritika Swarup for Prakti Beauty.


“Living in America, it might be very easy to, I assume you might say, lose your culture,” said Swarup, whose yogi mother not only played a pivotal role in shaping the founder’s understanding of beauty and wellness from a young age but in addition made sure to carve out annual family trips to Lucknow to make sure Swarup would grow up immersed in her roots.

“Ayurveda can seem very intimidating and sophisticated and we wish to alter that; it’s about taking what works for you and incorporating that into your life, not necessarily adopting all the wellness system,” Swarup says.

Considered one of the oldest traditional systems of medication in existence, Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit terms “ayer,” meaning “life,” and “veda,” which implies “knowledge.” Ayurveda emphasizes the interconnectedness of 1’s mental, physical and spiritual states and promotes balanced lifestyle selections and rituals as a way to living healthily and stopping and treating diseases.

In line with data from Verified Market Research, the worldwide Ayurvedic market is projected to achieve $21.12 billion by 2028m up from $6.5 billion in 2020.

“We don’t compete with traditional Western medicine; moderately, we feel Ayurveda could be an incredible complement to it,” explains Ayurvedic expert Ananta Ripa Ajmera, who has been enlisted by luxury Recent York wellness club The Well to function its adviser of Ayurveda since 2019.

In her position at The Well, Ripa Ajmera works alongside experts in traditional Chinese medicine, functional medicine, physical therapy and other practices to co-conceptualize comprehensive and synergistic approaches to assist guests feel their best.

“It’s been amazing to create an integrative wellness space for practitioners of various modalities to come back together, and to see people of all walks turn into fascinated with Ayurveda,” says Ripa Ajmera, who’s on 12 months 12 of what she describes as a “lifelong” study of Ayurveda.

Equally committed to spreading knowledge as she is to her pursuit of it, Ripa Ajmera has hosted educational sessions and trainings on Ayurveda on the Stanford School of Medicine, in addition to for California probation officers in an aim to assist them address job-related stress. She ultimately envisions a future during which it’s typical for certified practitioners to show Ayurvedic principles in schools, senior care centers and other such spaces beyond the archetypal wellness center.

And he or she’s not the just one who believes a widespread embrace of Ayurveda could fundamentally alter people’s quality of life at any age — Divya Viswanathan and Amy Engel also aim to guide people to and thru the landscape via their complement brand Taza Ayurveda, which harnesses ancestral Indian herbs like valerian root, licorice root and cardamom seed to support stress reduction, digestion, focus, memory and sleep.  

Taza Ayurveda Mindful Guy Health supplement.

Taza Ayurveda Mindful Gut Health complement.


“We see Ayurvada becoming an officially recognized form of medication [in the U.S.] as our north star,” says Viswanathan, who grew up in Bombay and moved to the U.S. when she was 17 to attend college, where she befriended Engel.

A bottle of 60 Taza capsules of any variety retails for $60. To make sure authentic formulation, the brand has partnered with Sitaram Ayurveda, a Kerala, India-based institution that formulates natural supplements and remedies approved by the the Indian government’s Ministry of Ayush. From there, Engel and Viswanathan make just a few formulaic tweaks to account for lifestyle differences amongst Western consumers (akin to meat intake) with a view to maximize the supplements’ efficacy.

Mainly popular amongst consumers ages 45 and up, each Taza complement specifies how it would impact one’s dosha, which is a health state determined by a person’s unique balance of the five elements of Ayurvedic medicine: Aakash (Space), Jala (Water), Prithvi (Earth), Teja (Fire) and Vayu (Air).

The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and every designates distinctive personal strengths and weaknesses that indicate what lifestyle shifts one might have to implement with a view to attain optimal health.

Founding father of the Santa Monica-based Surya Spa, Martha Soffer says she will be able to tell a client’s dosha just by checking their pulse.

“If I take your pulse, I can let you know many things about your body,” says Soffer, who has been running Surya for greater than 30 years and who has amassed a high-profile client base, including Gwyneth Paltrow. “I can see if you will have an excessive amount of Vata, an excessive amount of Pitta or an excessive amount of Kapha, and know what herbs you’ll want to take, and what foods you’ll want to remove out of your weight loss plan.”

Martha Soffra's Surya Spa in Santa Monica, California.

Martha Soffra’s Surya Spa in Santa Monica, California.


Though mainly known for her prowess in Panchakarma, which is a detoxing treatment that lasts between seven and 21 days during which Soffer cooks personalized meals for a client and creates for them a tailored day by day regimen to balance their dosha, Surya also offers quite a lot of massages, sound baths, yoga classes and more. Prices start at $200 for a 60-minute breathwork class. A seven-day, all-inclusive Panchakarma retreat costs upward of $9,000.

Soffer also helms an in-house product line, which incorporates face and body oils and creams; a Kourtney Kardashian Barker-approved Fertility Steam that taps raspberry leaf and Egyptian chamomile with the goal of helping the body prepare for pregnancy; bath soaks; tongue scrapers, and far more.

The truth is, a recent trip to the farmer’s market serendipitously spurred her latest concoction: “They’re nectarine flowers,” says Soffer, lifting a big jar of pink petals suspended in liquid from her desk. “I walked past and was fascinated by the smell. I’m making a recent oil with them; they create sweetness into your heart.”

Identical to rituals and textures, smell is an indispensable avenue through which Ayurveda finds deliverance. Just ask Paul Austin, a longtime fragrance industry veteran who accomplished meaningful stints at Givaudan and Quest yet pinpoints his six-month sabbatical spent in Coimbatore, India, as probably the most pivotal juncture of his profession.

“Within the mornings, I’d go to high school where I used to be studying Ayurveda, and I’d follow these very elegant South Indian ladies who would have jasmine of their hair,” recalls Austin. “It was that jasmine; the smell made me realize I used to be in a perfumer’s garden of Eden.”

Struck by a keen appreciation for India’s fragrance culture — and galvanized to share it with the world — it was years later that Austin became connected with Anita Lal, founding father of the well-known Indian home and apparel company Good Earth, and Austin’s soon-to-become LilaNur Parfums co-creator.

“Fragrance has all the time been a passion for me,” says Lal, a daughter of two Pakistani refugees who grew up near Bombay and now resides in Delhi. “From the time I used to be just a little girl, the scent of rose, of jasmine — this stuff delighted me beyond belief. I felt it was time someone from India bring to the world fragrances as we smell them here.”

Launched in 2021, LilaNur offers seven eau de parfums retailing for $285 each, and three attars (that are highly concentrated, alcohol-free perfume oils that cost $435 each), all naturally extracted from India and blended in Grasse, France.

LilaNur Parfums

LilaNur Parfums


In a giant win (and something of a full-circle moment) for Indian-founded and -inspired fragrance brands, LilaNur debuted at Bergdorf Goodman, where nearly 20 years prior in 2004, Bombay-born Shalini Kumar’s Shalini Parfum also made its debut.

Shalini Parfums' eponymous debut fragrance.

Shalini Parfums’ eponymous debut fragrance.

Mathew Zucker

The trail to establishing Indian-inspired brands’ place within the prestige channel has been removed from straightforward within the years since, though, with few of them managing to ascertain footholds within the retail sector.

Recent breakthroughs from brands like Ranavat and Fable and Mane, nonetheless, could indicate that Indian-inspired beauty’s time within the highlight could also be here finally and will endure.

Mere months after the Ayurvedic hair care brand’s initial launch in 2020, Fable and Mane went TikTok viral and have become the primary South Asian-owned hair care brand to enter Sephora. Founded by London-born siblings Nikita and Akash Mehta, the brand entered the market with a $36 pre-wash hair oil incorporating ashwagandha, castor oil and a 10-herb mix called dashmool that goals to advertise hair and scalp health. The brand has since been constructing out a comprehensive regimen inclusive of shampoos, conditioners and serums.

Fable and Mane cofounders Nikita and Akash Mehta and their grandmother, who taught them about hair oiling.

Fable and Mane cofounders Nikita and Akash Mehta and their mother, Chetna.


“Beauty all the time brought people together in our household — that’s something so integral to Indian culture,” says Nikita, who recalls sitting together with her grandmother for routine hair oilings and scalp massages as a toddler, a ritual she remembers being best accompanied by storytelling and wealthy conversation (hence the name, Fable and Mane).

Data from Circana shows that sales of hair oils within the U.S. prestige market have grown 14 percent year-over-year, reaching $166 million as consumers turn into increasingly aware of the practice’s advantages to hair health. Google search data provider, Spate, too, has tracked a 12.4 percent YoY increase in searches for “Ayurvedic oil,” and a 31.8 percent increase in those for “amla hair oil.”

“Every time my grandma used to discuss beauty, it was in regards to the foods we ate, it was about what we placed on our skin — it was never superficially about what we saw within the mirror,” says Akash, adding that the brand, imbued with their grandmother’s teachings, entered Selfridges in London in addition to India’s leading cosmetics retailer Nykaa last 12 months. 

Ayurvedic skin and hair care brand Ranavat can be growing its reach, having recently entered Sephora, Goop and Harrods.

Ranavat's Ayurvedic skin and hair care offerings.

Ranavat’s Ayurvedic skin and hair care offerings.

Tracie Davis

“I feel sometimes people feel that culturally driven brands perhaps ought to be more mass, and I would like to challenge the best way people think and define the word luxury,” says founder Michelle Ranavat, who offers a variety of facial serums, massage tools, candles, hair oils and more. “I shop at Sephora, I’m a city girl; I would like to feel like these products and rituals should have a spot in the trendy world beyond just the underside shelf of Indian grocery stores.”

Deepica Mutyala, founder of Live Tinted.

Deepica Mutyala, founding father of Live Tinted.


For Deepica Mutyala, the beauty-influencer-turned-Live-Tinted-founder who went viral in 2015 for demonstrating how one can mask under-eye hyperpigmentation using red lipstick (and now helms a skin and makeup brand which focuses on hyperpigmentation as a key concern), founding an inclusive and culturally driven brand was just as much a way to ending generational trauma because it was to showcasing generations-old traditions.

“I grew up in a world where I’d hide under an umbrella because I didn’t need to get darker, because I knew that fair was considered beautiful — there literally was a skin bleaching cream on my mom’s bathroom counter called Fair and Lovely,” recalls Mutyala, adding that her adolescent years saw her transition through bleached blonde hair, blue contacts, and anything she could try that her younger self thought would comply with the singular standard of beauty peddled to her on the time.

“The goal of what Live Tinted is attempting to do is to alter the narrative around colorism — it’s literally within the name,” says Mutyala, whose hero skus include the Superhue Hyperpigmentation Serum Stick and multipurpose, color-correcting Huesticks, which retail for $34 and $24, respectively.

Having long since shed any shame regarding her skin tone and culture, Mutyala now channels that memory right into a source of creative renewal for launches like Live Tinted’s upcoming invisible mineral SPF stick. “It goes back to honoring that little girl who sat under an umbrella; it’s form of my way of claiming, ‘Exit into the sun — embrace it.’”

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