Grounded in holistic wellness traditions, the Indian subcontinent’s skin care philosophy is a composite of diverse medicine systems, including Ayurved, Adivasi, Unani and Siddha. Of these, Ayurved (often called Ayurveda in the West) is the dominant healing framework. And today, Ayurvedic texts are still considered important allies in the pursuit of wellness and beauty, and consulted in the formulation of skin care remedies.
In Ayurvedic skin care, ingredients are graded for vitality, factoring in aspects like seasonality and provenance, and blends are deemed fortifying only when made with absolutely natural or unprocessed ingredients.
For the majority of Indian women, a good skin care regimen is natural and has a legacy component that is mostly Ayurvedic. Recipes for that perfect mask or scrub go back generations and can usually be mixed quickly in a bowl with ingredients from the kitchen or local grocer. Skin goals have remained unchanged over centuries: Good skin is clean, even-toned and has tej ― an indefinable, almost god-like radiance that comes from within.
Even so, Vasudha Rai, former beauty director at Harper’s Bazaar India and author of “Glow: Indian Foods, Recipes and Rituals for Beauty, Inside and Out,” gently warns against the blind embrace of regimens that feel Ayurvedic but, in reality, comply only loosely with the system’s principles. “The prescriptive aspects of Ayurved are extremely complex and call for serious commitment in the form of time and intention, if we are to achieve any sort of radical transformation with our skin,” she told Us.
“Plus, context has changed irrevocably since these texts were written ― modernity has turned our lives upside down. We’re not eating healthy, living right. Thanks to GMO and pesticides, our food is tainted, and the pollution, stress and lack of exercise don’t help,” she told Us.
“This is why I think Ayurved, when coupled with advances in skin care science, is pretty unbeatable,” Rai said. “So many Indian brands are combining both in a bottle ― deeply traditional ingredients and a very current, very scientific sensibility.”
We rounded up 15 Indian skin care brands that promise gorgeous skin with that lit-from-within glow.