A form of holistic, mind-body medicine rooted in Indian culture, Ayurveda is a way of life for many people around the world, and it’s now making a bigger impact in the West. “Ayurveda is a science, and we’re more than hair oiling and turmeric masks—we have so much more to share,” says Michelle Ranavat, founder of RANAVAT, which is the first South Asian–founded Ayurvedic skin-care brand to launch at Sephora. “We want to share the science behind everything and combine it with what we experience culturally.” Here, five beautiful skin-care brands harnessing the power of Ayurveda and its rich ingredient history to nourish the skin and treat every concern from dark spots to acne.
Founder Michelle Ranavat points to the many benefits above as one of the reasons why she started her brand. “I wanted to create a space and awareness for the benefits of incredible Ayurvedic ingredients like saffron, manjistha and amla. With its focus on both holistic and science-based approaches, Ayurveda is a unique discipline that seems to fit into today’s conversation. We’re seeing an increased interest in exploring the connection between inner and outer beauty, and the quest to minimize the impact of stress we’ve collectively experienced these past few years.
A big part of Ayurveda is the ‘how,’ not the ‘what.’ For example, our Saffron Serum is manufactured in copper vessels hand stirred in the traditional method. This is very important to the overall authenticity and efficacy of the product. Similarly, our Kansa Wands are handmade with authentic Kansa, and it is important to purchase from a brand you trust. As a modern brand, I wanted to leverage my background as an engineer and scientist. While we knew that Ayurvedic ingredients and formulas work, we went an extra step and carried out clinical studies across the line. The modern consumer wants to feel good while indulging in the ritual, but they also need to have proof the products and formulas work. Ayurveda does both of these things incredibly well!”
Born in Michigan to Indian parents from Kolkata, Rooshy Roy, founder and CEO of AAVRANI, found herself straddling two cultures throughout her childhood. “Adverse experiences—specifically with respect to my cultural duality—intimidated me so much, that by the time I graduated from college, I was proud of how much I’d disassociated from my roots,” she says. “I stopped eating with my fingers as soon as my turmeric-stained fingernails were deemed ‘disgusting’ in my fourth grade classroom. By high school, the beauty rituals my mother recreated for us in Michigan felt crude and unrefined. My grandmother’s hair recipes felt too sticky and greasy to bear anymore.“
Roy went on to get a degree in business and moved to New York to begin a career in finance where she says she abandoned her Indian identity, but that wouldn’t last long. “This began to change when, after stress and non-natural beauty ingredients had taken their toll on my skin, I revisited my grandmother’s recipes. AAVRANI is my way to share the secrets of Indian beauty rituals with you. To combine the two parts that make me whole. It delivers a new era of Ayurveda, modernizing Indian beauty secrets with our products and holistic beauty philosophy.
Our Purifying Oil Cleanser is the most gentle clarifying cleanser, with only 11-ingredients that work together to lift makeup and impurities without stripping skin. It’s powered by sandalwood oil, which has such profound clarifying properties, it’s said to have been used in the ritualistic bathing of Indian Gods.”
“I was born and raised in India and I moved to the U.S. in 2007 for business school,” says founder Shrankhla Holecek. “I’ve been a lifelong Ayurvedic practitioner, lifelong vegetarian, and a lifelong yogi—I started at the age of 7 or 8. I started UMA because I felt that there was a lot of appetite in the West to truly understand Eastern medicine like Ayurveda, as well as because I saw a fair amount of bastardization of what true Ayureda was. To me, Ayurveda is authentic, it’s a science, it is fact-driven. And my interpretetion of Ayurveda is what I wanted to bring to the West, via UMA.”
All of the brand’s botanicals are raised on its 100-acre meadow, which was carefully chosen for its nutritious soil. “Our dedicated caretakers select only the finest seeds, and nurse their plants through the growing season, making sure to harvest each plant no more than two times before replanting. While this painstaking process results in a lower yield, it ensures the unparalleled purity and therapeutic benefit of our oils.” UMA’s Absolute Anti Aging Face Oil highlights frankincense oil as a key ingredient. “Prized for its rarity and deeply regenerative properties, the anti-aging effects of frankincense oil brought the rulers of ancient India one step closer to the immortal beauty they so desired. Rich in frankincense and other precious essential oils like rose, Absolute Anti Aging uses ancient formulas for beauty that transcends time.”
“Uma was named after my dear aunt, a truly remarkable woman, who played an integral role in raising my sister and me. She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, inside and out, and I hope to honor her with a brand that celebrates her generous spirit and indomitable sense of self. I never saw her wear makeup, and yet she looked radiant until the day she died. Our brand celebrates the Uma in each of us: our ability to find peace amidst chaos, to balance our complex ambitions with our most fundamental emotions, and to find contentment in the knowledge that everything we need is already within us. My aunt taught me that true beauty is found in simplicity, integrity and equilibrium, and our brand strives to honor her by ensuring every drop of our oil consists of the same.”
Ten years ago, Tracy Adkins developed her first product to address her daughter’s eczema. “Before diving headfirst into developing a new formula, I looked online for other available Ayurvedic skin products and found that very few existed in the U.S.,” she says. “At the time, I had just begun studying Ayurveda and had enrolled in an Ayurveda Practitioner program. To be honest, I never meant to start a business. My main goal was to study Ayurveda for my family, my children and my own well-being. However, when I realized that there was a lack of available products, it sparked a thought of creating my own. Consumers today prefer personalized over mass-produced. They are educated and savvy and not only want clean, plant-based and effective products, but they also want to be immersed in an experience. Life can be busy, frenzied and overscheduled—nothing like it was 5,000 years ago. Our beauty and skin-care routines have become a place where we want and are able to take a mini refuge from the daily grind, while at the same time know we are effectively caring for our skin in a clean, healthy way.
For Jivana products, we used organic botanicals sourced from a family-owned farm in India and blended them into custom formulas that address specific skin types associated with each dosha. We supplemented them with carefully selected modern actives to create more powerful and distinctive formulas. For example, our Tridosha Ghee Balm is a truly innovative product that features ghee as its main ingredient and is designed to pacify all doshas and skin types. Ghee contains essential fatty acids and is packed with antioxidants. More importantly, ghee increases the potency of herbs by carrying active components to the inner layers of the skin. While novel here in the U.S., it has been a staple of Ayurvedic culture for generations and has been applied topically for millennia in the East. The Balm combines CO2-extracted botanicals, which are extremely potent and effective, with superior active ingredients, such as phytoceramides, shea butter, squalane, and coconut alkanes, to produce an avant-garde creation unlike anything else in the industry.”
Born in Kenya of Indian descent, brand cofounder Deepika Vyas practiced Ayurveda all of her life. “When we were kids and we’d fall and scrape our knees, my grandmother would sprinkle turmeric on our wounds and that was the end of it—no Band-Aids, no infections, no nothing,” she says. “If someone wasn’t feeling well or had a surgery, we’d get turmeric milk—it’s called Golden Milk now—and it’s just so healing. Whether it’s food or lifestyle, Ayurveda really touches every aspect of your being. I think it’s so on-trend right now because it’s such a balanced way of living and it’s so beneficial. People are just dying to know all about it.”
When she was training as a pharmacist, Vyas says she really struggled with finding skin-care products that suited her very sensitive skin that she called “angry skin” because it was always experiencing breakouts or oiliness, etc. “Something was just off no matter what I used. Fast-forward to four years ago and my nephew—Dr. Tanuj Nakra, a plastic surgeon—and I put our heads together and decided to create our own brand. We launched with five luxurious products that featured our unique delivery system called Qusome, which uses a colorless, odorless form of turmeric and its active ingredient called curcumin. We combined and encapsulated that with neem, which is a powerful antibacterial that’s been used for centuries, and brightening peony, to deliver it deeper into the skin.” Since then, AVYA has added a new Hydroveda collection, including a mineral Sheer Tinted Moisturizer SPF 40 (in two shades), and its two new launches this summer are Daily Milk Cleanser and Daily Detox Clay Mask. “The camphor and bentonite clay in the mask are two ingredients that have been used in Ayurveda for centuries, and together, they reduce irritation while clearing and purifying the skin to leave it clean, balanced and radiant.”