Before the turn of the century, beauty products, including skin care and hair care were mostly homemade, using herbs and ingredients available locally in India. In Ayurveda, Tailams (oils) and Ghritas (clarified butter or ghee) were used for facial beautification.
With globalization, cosmetics from other countries became available in India, increasing accessibility and affordability. One example is the replacement of Shikakai (a powder made from parts of a dry shrub) with shampoos containing surfactants. Ironically, the word shampoo comes from the Hindi word Champo (meaning to press, knead and soothe) borrowed during the colonial era.
The cosmetics market worldwide is controlled by a handful of conglomerates like Unilever, Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal. Although these were immensely successful in India, domestic counterparts have an equal footing, with newer, organic brands entering the market.
With the expansion of retail in the online space, new businesses had been developed successfully to fill gaps in the market via this channel. One such success story in the sector, founded by Falguni Nayar was Nykaa, and had shown increasing revenues and investments. Early 2021anticipated her becoming a billionaire and the second richest self-made woman in the country.
Despite the setback from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and subsequent decline in demand, the Indian beauty and personal care industry is slowly but steadily recovering. There is also a clear transition towards products that are more ethically sourced and naturally made. This made it essential for conglomerates to work out similar strategies to keep their foothold. Dabur, for instance, offered Shikakai in a variety of its hair products – an attempt to combine traditionally used ingredients into contemporary personal care.