Beauty Industry ⁠— Back to the Future!


Normally when one visits a dermatologist or trichologist, they step out with a prescription or a routine formulated according to the issue they face. That ritual is unique to them. As if tailor-made garments by couturiers and skincare regimes by dermats were not enough, custom-made beauty products are the ‘new thing’ in town. If the salons give you personalised coiffure, why can’t the brands curate a personalised skin product? An iCream?

If one can recall, 1990s was a time, when a purple-white tube of multi-purpose cream ruled the market. Providing relief from chapped lips to treating minor-cuts and wounds, to intense moisturisation for harshest winters; the cream with a lingering fragrance did it all, almost overnight. Another variant, its doppelganger in green tube, boasted of antiseptic properties. Believe it or not, these thick-textured creams were all one needed for year-round requirements and suited all skin types.

Time changed. We stepped into a different century as the year 2K arrived. Brands worked on their packaging.

Products got a new classification. Companies silently introduced the idea of different beauty creams for summers, winters and other climes. Thick all-purpose creams made some space for lotions on shelves. Soon, companies advanced to a gender-specific approach advocating separate products for men and women. The aggressive marketing, convincingly generated a gender-divide in the beauty segment. Some time later, markets were flooded with ‘whitening’ creams that made the consumer more ‘colour’ conscious, instilling a concept based on sophism amongst teenagers. Preying on these insecurities, the bigger players in the markets, narrowed down or to be precise, created a huge gap.

Companies renewed their strategies and marketed products addressing the skin concerns. Whitening cream, brightening creams, sunscreen, anti-ageing, acne-control, spot reduction, T-zone, sensitive skin, oily, dry, normal; offering huge and unending bifurcations and combinations. Miraculous ingredients – tea tree, green tree, aloe vera, green coffee, matcha, charcoal infused products became their USP.

There is a definite distinction between a ‘need’ and ‘creating a need’. Today we have moved from skin-specific to person-specific products. It would be difficult to assume if we actually were in dire need of these products or we generated the necessity ourselves or the brands created the ‘skin type’ fallacy. The urge to look perfect or say, photo-ready at all times, injected the notion with more power. After all, beauty has turned into a multi-million dollar industry riding on these brilliant strategies. Whatever the cause, this industry will not see recession any sooner.

Though, there is no one product to address all skin types, we cannot utterly dismiss or belittle the requirement of such compositions as the environment has drastically changed around us. The carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere are much higher today than in the 90s. Thus, it is also possible that more irritants, dispersed in the air are absorbed into our skin. This justifies the need for an enhanced barrier or a modified version of our skin.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Because the modern-day skin needs extra care, companies hasten to adopt a different approach based on individual skin needs. They brew products, tailored to individual requirements. Moreover, they allow the customer to curate the product and name it. No, it doesn’t mean they will invite you to visit their labs and experiment with a test tube, a beaker and some chemicals. You will be doing all this online. Choose a base for your cream or cleanser followed by the ingredients that suit you. The end product will be delivered at your doorstep.

Following the pursuit, some companies take a survey to understand your skin concerns. Based on that analysis, they curate the product best suiting your skin need. In short, you can manufacture your cream and name it. In the end, you will have a product that is exclusive to you. One can eliminate the ingredient that doesn’t suit their skin type. So if someone is allergic or sensitive to tea tree oil or its extract, they can choose not to include it in the composition of the product. Another brownie point is the freshness of the lotion. As the lotions are made on-request, the possibility of the product expiring in the near future, is bleak. Moreover, it retains the efficacy of the product. Also, it allows transparency to the customers who prefer to stay vegan or paraben free, when it comes to skincare.

But, this is of utmost importance that the person looking for a personalised product is attuned to their skin type and the allergens. For instance, a person with oily skin should prefer a base that is less moisturising, preferably a gel. Similarly, a person with a sensitive or acne-prone skin must prefer a non-comedogenic product. Women with extremely dry skin, should use a humectant-based intense moisturiser.

Freshistry is an Indian company that liberates you to brew your own skin and hair products. Their steps include – choosing your skin/hair type, selecting a base (recommended according to your previous selection), picking ingredients and finally personalising with your choice of colour, fragrance and name. You can curate a cream, hair cleanser, lotion and face cleanser the same way. Freshistry is the first one-of-its-kind concept in India. From over the counter to luxury brands, a lot of well-known names are diving into the customised beauty trends. Kiehl’s has also stepped into the avenue of customised skincare products. Other companies are SkinKraft, Curology and insitU that address your eye, face and body issues.

Not simply skincare brands but, many cosmetic companies are also adopting the same approach. Everyone knows how much we love colours. It is always good to have colour options, be it a lip colour, an eye shadow, eye pencil, eye-liner or blush etc. The more the merrier. The bride-to-be can add the mesmerising shades to her treasured vanity to accentuate her skin radiating with the pre-wedding glow.

This is a boon for girls, especially for the brides-to-be who want to explore vivid colours for their wedding day. The prismatic color palette offered by these companies comes to their rescue. Pretty peaches to passionate reds, such brands offer every damn colour on everyone’s wish list.

Lip Lab by Bite is one recognised brand in this segment. The customer can choose a shade from a palette of thousands of colours and the experienced personnel at the store would do the needful.

This lets you try different combinations and the resultant concoction is unique. It is not restricted to delivering the right shade, it is also about the right amount of the product. These brands only deliver the product after ensuring the correct quantity of the article.

Giella is another brand that blends according to your preference. They mix their products by hand right in front of you and do not microwave them. Additionally, they maintain a record of the constituents of a product chosen by you, for future use. They customise foundation, mineral powder, bronzer, blush, highlighter, cheek tint, lip gloss, lipstick and nail polish too.

Any generation expresses their confidence through the colours they choose. These personalised products give them the liberty to choose for themelves. After all, why stick to a boring tray of 20 lipsticks, when one can have 200? We are not made for limited editions. We are limited editions. We need limitless possibilities. Thus, never hesitate to take a leap when it comes to cosmetics.

This may appear novel, but has existed since ages. The concoctions that the ancient Indian Ayurveda rendered, were curated, based on the personal history of the subject. The prescribed drugs or oils were not readily available in the market. They were brewed at practitioner’s behest.Hence, the excellent results. This might be a new concept for some, but this actually takes us back to the future.

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