As the Indian cosmetics industry makes impressive strides, it is also becoming specialised into different sectionals. From a couple of brands at the local kirana store, to specialist beauty solution providers, we have come a long way. But one the most interesting developments has been the marriage of new and old like we see in handmade cosmetics India.
Although canny marketers have tried to sell it as the new best thing, it is hardly that. In fact, in a land that has long had a tradition of handcrafted materials, cosmetics also have a long history. Ayurveda actually has detailed formulations for various cosmetics and personal care products. These are part of our tradition, so it is not surprising that handmade cosmetics have always been around.
History of handmade cosmetics
Ayurveda is known as one of the world’s most ancient medicinal systems. Its wellbeing and cosmetic formulations are less well known. Yet it is a rich storehouse of such information. The classics Meghdootam and Abhigyanam Shakuntalam mention the ornamentation of women. Even the epic Mahabharata has many such passages where women are described as putting on cosmetics.
In fact, the history of cosmetics is as old as humankind. Men and women have tried to improve their appearance in many ways, using soot for kajal, natural colours on their cheeks and lips and painting their face. The story of cosmetics, or the art of ornamenting the body, obviously starts with handmade products as using any machines would have been impossible.
Different excavations show that in ancient India, it was not just the women who used cosmetics. Men also used cosmetics and jewels to adorn themselves. The use of natural ingredients like saffron, turmeric and sandalwood were in extensive use to prepare all kind of formulations for beautification.
Many ancient texts, including the Ayurveda, show how the tradition of making handmade cosmetics India was part of the daily life. The formulations were quite advanced and used different means of extracting, purifying and utilising ingredients to make cosmetics. These include face masks, hair washes, dyes, perfumes, bath powder, kajal and other pigmentations.
Interestingly, cosmetics were used not just for beautification, but also to attain good health, wellness and virtue. Since these were made with natural ingredients, most cosmetics were also seasonal in nature.
Handmade cosmetics today
The concept of beautification is obviously just as strong as ever. However, it is more female-centric now. It is also, obviously, a much bigger market, both in terms of its scope and scale. The advent of technology also changed it completely. Today we have many players in the beauty market — manufacturers, franchises, private labelling companies, herbal manufacturers, Ayurvedic manufacturers, small companies, big corporations and cottage industry.
Among these are handmade cosmetics India. These range from big corporations to cottage industry. While some may fall in the small-scale industry, many of these companies have also packaged themselves as luxury goods. The niche companies are now immensely successful. The reasons for their success are:
Natural ingredients: Most handmade cosmetics are made with completely natural ingredients as opposed to chemical-laden formulations. The problem with chemical cosmetics is its harmful impact on the dry skin and body in the long-term. The chemicals are absorbed by the skin and enter the blood stream, eventually leaving their harmful traces on internal organs and functioning.
Use of high quality ingredients: Handmade manufacturers are particularly careful about their sourcing. If you are particularly discerning, you can also look for organically certified products. Made from only organic materials, these cosmetics do not have the trace chemicals found in plants today. These are chemicals that enter via fertilisers and even water.
Luxury manufacturers today source their ingredients from the source and from diverse regions to get the best. You can buy products enriched with saffron, lavender, mace and other exotic herbs and spices.
Beneficial properties: Chemically laden products are harmful for us. Handmade cosmetics, made from natural elements, on the other hand, are actually beneficial for us. Ingredients like turmeric, saffron, shikakai and neem have medicinal properties that can actually help us to fight infections.
The use of advanced and sophisticated handmade cosmetics in India has a long and interesting tradition. Modern corporations have taken these forward with a range of products that are packaged for our modern convenience.