Last month, singer Selena’s Gomez’s much awaited Rare Beauty arrived in India. With its light, everyday-wear make-up that claims to include skin-nourishing ingredients, it was a much talked about brand in the beauty community. But the conversations highlighted one thing—all make-up, your eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, should come second to skincare. Proactive caring for the skin is becoming the priority across all age groups.
A 2022 report by Kantar Worldpanel, a service that offers insights into shopper behaviour across the world, found that make-up usage had fallen 28% and lipstick usage had dropped 40%, compared to 2019. Today, every celebrity worth their salt has a skincare line, be it Deepika Padukone (82E), Scarlett Johansson (The Outset) or Brad Pitt (Le Domaine Skincare), indicating that the trend of ensuring a healthy skin, which started during the pandemic, is going strong.
The real magic of skincare actually lies in consistency. In other words, following a strict, regular regimen that includes different serums, cleansers, moisturisers, lotions (and, of course, a good, balanced diet), depending on the skin type and dermatologist’s suggestions, is critical. This reduces the need to run to the doctor for skin treatments or do research on the newest active ingredients.
The classics still stand their ground in skincare—moisturiser continues to hold close to 50% of the global beauty market share, according to the market research platform Industry Research.
“People who are consistent (with skincare) don’t require a lot of procedures,” says dermatologist Meghna Gupta, founder of the Delhi Skin Centre. “For instance, if you build your skin barrier (the outermost, protective layer) well, you don’t need hydrating treatments; if you are doing AHAs and retinoids, you don’t need exfoliating treatments.”
“Skincare that’s simple and easy is my jam,” says Santu Misra, co-founder of Fetch Consulting, an influencer and public relations agency in Delhi. He’s comfortable spending ₹15,000-20,000 a couple of times a year on everyday essentials such as Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm, the Beauty of Joseon Serum and Sunscreen, and the Caudalie face mist.
Skincare isn’t just for those with social media creds. Chetan Panwar, a Gurugram, Haryana-based IT manager for the Expedia Group, has an extensive regimen.
“From Monday to Friday, I use a light cleanser, followed by a mist, hydration cream and a light sunscreen, in addition to the usual shower and body oil,” he says, explaining that his night-time routine is similar, with a night cream added. “On weekends, I apply a hair oil or pre-shampoo mask, body scrub or ubtan, and, at night, a face massage using a ghee-based emulsion.”
Then there are those such as Sushant Arora, marketing director of the outsourcing and offshoring consulting firm Firstsource Solutions Ltd in Bengaluru, who likes to keep it simple with a daytime routine of “three drops Klairs Vitamin C serum mixed with the Neutrogena Hydroboost Gel and the d’you In My Defence when I don’t have time”. His day and night cleanser is Cetaphil and he uses the Cetaphil Night Comfort before bed.
In India, the beauty revolution is just getting started. Other than legacy beauty and Ayurvedic brands, the market is divided into three main categories.
The first category comprises local brands that harness the power of actives, like d’you, Minimalist and Chemist At Play. “When developing Hustle, we wanted to address the pain point of confusion around how to layer or pair different active ingredients in a routine, so we made a formula that combined over 11 actives in one bottle,” says Shamika Haldipurkar, founder of d’you, talking about their serum.
Similarly, In My Defence, the moisturiser that went viral as actor Alia Bhatt’s favourite, was created to offer a formula with a high percentage of ceramides and barrier lipids but in an ultra-light formula, given our hot and humid temperatures.
Then there are brands such as Juicy Chemistry, Aminu and Ras Luxury Oils that create essentials using natural ingredients, but without the obvious Ayurvedic connection.
“The initial goal was to engineer products without any water and keep them stable without a preservative,” says Megha Asher, who created the brand Juicy Chemistry after her own struggles with PCOD-driven hyper-sensitive skin. PCOD or polycystic ovarian disease can also have an impact on skin. “Natural products (that were being sold on the shelves) had a lot of ingredients that should not be in a (truly) natural product. That was that initial idea behind Juicy Chemistry,” she says.
The third category is of the latest entrants: Indians who are getting their products formulated and made internationally and importing them into India. An example of this is Elizabeth Isaac’s Gunam Beauty, which brings together local and international expertise, with some Ayurvedic ingredients and PO3 (a new, innovative ingredient sourced from a biotech firm in Singapore). The entire range is made in France, inspired by her understanding of the beauty industry when she worked for an ingredient supplier in Paris.
Another example is Ilem Japan, founded by Ishvani Patel, an Indian woman who has lived in Japan for almost a decade. Its lotions, scrubs and cleaners highlight Japanese ingredients such as yuzu and sakura. The products are all formulated and made in Japan.
What do all three categories of beauty products have in common? Their best-sellers are products such as cleansers, toners and moisturisers that are part of a daily routine.
Tira Beauty, the newest online beauty retailer, also wants to create a space where beauty if aspirational yet accessible. They want to "empower and integrate skincare into the fabric of everyday lives,” says a source at Tira.
Consistent, everyday skincare, though transformative, isn’t talked about enough because it isn’t a fad or a hack. It needs daily work, consistency, repetition, a routine. But in the beauty space, where a moisturiser can make your skin feel like velvet and a good cleanser can turn a night-time routine into an event, repetition is far from boring.
Vasudha Rai is a beauty journalist and the author of Glow: Indian Foods, Recipes And Rituals For Beauty, Inside & Out and Ritual: Daily Practices For Wellness, Beauty & Bliss.