We are living through a wellness zeitgeist, with a huge growth in demand for wellness and personal care products. The beauty and wellness market in India, valued at over ₹90,000 crore in 2018, is expected to cross a staggering ₹240,000 crore by 2024. The pandemic has hugely boosted the sector, with wellness and personal care becoming a priority for most people with a disposable income.
Lounge spoke to Manish Chowdhary, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Body Cupid Pvt. Ltd, a Bengaluru-based company that owns the beauty and wellness brands Body Cupid and Wow Skin Science, to talk about recent trends in the wellness/beauty sector, innovations in the way results are delivered, and how ‘natural’ are natural products.
The pandemic has seen many shifts in the beauty, wellness, and self-care markets. Could you tell us about some of the biggest shifts?
The pandemic has defined a new normal for us, the focus being on sustainable living and minimalist beauty. It has brought to the fore a consciousness about personal hygiene and state of wellbeing, both mental and physical. Self-realisation, self-confidence, and being comfortable in your own skin are the main trends driving consumer buying pattern currently. That is why we are seeing increasing demand for effective and targeted beauty care products. Looking good now is about how healthy your skin and hair feels in their natural state. That is why people are investing more on skin-care and hair-care rather than on makeup and styling products.
Consumers are no longer interested in crowding their vanity shelves with multitudes of products, instead they want core beauty care solutions that deliver visible results and have long term benefits. So, there is a renewed focus on natural, nature-based, and organic products. The increased consumer demand is now driving the launch of new and indigenous, nature-based brands on a regular basis in the market.
While it is very common to hear about 'all natural products and ingredients” in wellness and skincare today, how authentic are these claims? Isn't it true that all natural products would have very short shelf lives and would also be difficult to package? How have you overcome these challenges?
Independent research has shown that nature-based, nature-infused, and organic products offer long-term positive results that help you and is good for the planet. As I mentioned earlier, the demand for nature-based and plant-based beauty care products have gone up over the last two years driving many entrepreneurs and new brands emerge in this space. In most cases, I would say that claims are authentic. Since consumers are more aware than before, and market situation is changing daily, so making false claims is harmful for a new brand. That is why they would be avoiding making false claims.
However, like in any market segment, in this case as well, there are players who may not be truthful about the ingredients used. They may be using some actives from natural sources and some artificial chemicals and making the “all-natural” claim. To ensure that one is truly getting all-natural product, the consumer needs to read the label carefully and look for the right certifications on the labels.
Yes, short shelf life is one of the downsides of natural products. But they are not hard to package. In fact, at WOW Skin Science we have used recyclable packing for our products. Consumers need to understand that if they want to use products that deliver all the goodness of natural authentic ingredients, then they cannot have products that last for over three years. The efficacy of the ingredients reduces with time. The best way to overcome this is to increase consumer awareness about goodness of a product with short shelf life.
When we say "no harsh chemicals" what does that mean? Are all chemicals bad? Are there any good chemicals? Do you think today's consumer is more aware of compounds like parabens, sulphates, etc?
Firstly, let me clarify that all chemicals are not bad. In fact, some of the chemical sounding ingredients actually have natural and plant-based sources. In fact, the human body is one big organic chemical compound – we are carbon-based. And healthy skin and hair means balanced amino acids, minerals, fatty acids etc. Also, all natural actives have organic chemicals at source. What is really harmful are synthetically or artificially made chemicals that mimic the real ones. These might provide instant gratification, but they tend to leave residue on skin and hair and have harmful impact in the long run. We have independent research that shows that popular ingredients like mineral oil, silicones, parabens and sulphates harm the human body in many ways, they also leave residues in water harming our water-bodies like rivers, seas and oceans.
On the other hand, chemicals like amino acids, enzymes, AHA, BHA, essential fatty acids, zinc or copper taken from natural sources like fruits, flowers, root, and herbs get easily assimilated into skin and hair. These may take a longer time to show results, but the effect is long term and beneficial for you and the planet.
At WOW Skin Science, what has your main area of innovation been, in terms of products and ingredients?
When we started WOW Skin Science, the main idea was to create a nature-infused, scientific research-backed products. The various skincare and haircare ranges in our portfolio are based on traditional beauty recipes from across the world and made using authentic and innovative natural and plant-based ingredients. We are constantly innovating on our products and ingredients. These are based on intensive market research and consumer insights and demands.
What are some of the biggest skincare trends right now and in the near future? What are you making that's new and fresh?
One of the most important trends that is driving the beauty care market is the awareness about clean living and the need to revive our environment. The pandemic has made all of us realise the need for change in the way we live, reduce waste, and use products that do not harm nature and the environment. That is why products that do not contain harmful chemicals, synthetic actives and preservatives are finding more buyers.