Covid-19 has made most beauty consumers shift to clean and natural beauty products owing to increased attention to health, insists Mira Kulkarni, chairperson and managing director, Mountain Valley Springs India Private Limited (Forest Essentials).
Keeping this in mind, the luxury skincare and perfumery brand has launched its first artisanal beauty collection that boasts of natural ingredients. Its Gulaab Khaas Kajals, for instance, have the traditional rose petal formulation while the Madhu Rasa Tinted Lip Serums claim to combine extracts of fruits, flowers and hand-pressed virgin oils and the lightweight Som Rasa Silk Skin Tint gives a "buildable coverage".
We spoke with Kulkarni about the new collection, the learnings during the pandemic and what the future holds for the Indian beauty industry. Edited excerpts:
Forest Essentials is over two decades old. What prompted you to start the makeup line now?
Centuries ago, women did not have access to synthetic makeup products; they used natural materials to accentuate their beauty. To enhance their eyes, women used black soot from pure ghee in diyas and fresh beetroot extract to tint their lips and cheeks.
We decided to reintroduce these age-old traditions to customers. Most consumers are making a shift to clean and natural beauty. They have become more cautious and aware of the ingredients that go into the making of their beauty products. We wanted to change the way women use makeup by creating a collection that blurs the line between skincare and makeup with simple multitaskers that make the skin feel and look good.
Using natural ingredients in make-up products may not give the same results as customers are used to. Do you believe your new collection will be able to change the perception?
One fact many people are unaware of is that clean makeup is actually an extension of skincare. The end goal of nourishing your skin will happen when you use a naturally clean make-up product. The Gulaab Khaas Kajal, for instance, releases a soothing and cooling sensation. The Nayantara Lash and Brow serum (infused with amla and fenugreek extracts) helps repair and restore lashes and brows to their original beauty.
This is for everyone who wishes to look more naturally beautiful as opposed to more beautifully made up. That really is the distinction.
Like most other industries, the beauty sector was also hit severely by covid-19. How did you deal with the crisis?
The effect on beauty and personal care has been less severe, to be honest. The move towards conscious beauty led to the growth of more conscientious consumers who are knowledgeable and mindful of the origin of the products they use. It is one of the most important breakthroughs for the Indian beauty industry. Consumers' perception of beauty has shifted as their health issues have grown. They now want brands to help them feel and live better and not just look better. People have become more involved in their selection on what they consume as a result of the pandemic, including skincare and cosmetics.
Customers are seeking better, natural alternatives as a result of the global health crisis, and we thought that was an appropriate time to launch.
Another important change for the Indian beauty industry is that online sales of beauty products are booming.
Your learnings from the covid-19 pandemic?
Market behaviour has changed as a result of the pandemic, with a more dilige approach to makeup and skincare. Investing in skincare-infused makeup items is the way forward, as consumers are looking for products that are more organic in nature and are not infused with chemicals.
Previously, customers preferred to touch and sample items in a physical store. The pandemic and lockdown have accelerated people's perception of digital media as a platform and e-commerce as a preferred channel. With the barriers to entry being reduced, we expect to enter a far larger portion of the population who previously did not have access to brands like ours in India's distant location.