In a 30-day experiment, our writer explored the overlap between the fresh produce revolution and modern-day skincare. Here's what she found
The future is paraben, sulphate and fragrance-free
Gwyneth Paltrow may have taken it a little too far when she dipped her French fries into the Goop moisturiser on live TV to prove its purity, but she did put a bright hot spotlight on where the skincare industry is headed. Today, beauty is directly linked to good health, and the recent fresh produce revolution is not only limited to the F&B industry but has had a ripple effect across what makes up the consumer market. A laser focus on fitness and vitality is one that's deeply woven into what it means to be a part of the millennial and gen Z cohorts. And the hyper-focus on terms like natural, sustainable, organic and plant-based is not restricted to edible food anymore; whether you realise it or not, they have also been adopted by the fast-growing skincare industry.
It is for this reason that for one month, for the sole purpose of research for this story, your girl played guinea pig and tested out four beauty products from four different Indian beauty brands that have their brand philosophies rooted in natural ingredients. The intersection between new health trends and modern-day skincare is one that's worth making note of.
Terms like 'clean beauty' and 'skin superfoods' have only come about in the recent past. While the protein shakes, acai bowls and gummy bear hair supplements were having their moment in the sun, the cosmetic industry was silently taking notes. Trends like glass, dewy, bouncy skin are ultimately just selling their audiences a picture of what it means to have clear, nourished skin. The rage even has people practising some unconventional methods of self-care. A prime example? The chlorophyll trend, where beauty bloggers and social media influencers can be seen chugging down glasses of the green plant pigment because a viral TikTok trend crowned the ingredient as an acne-clearing skin elixir, despite the lack of study to substantiate the claim.
The Clean Beauty Revolution
To explain this further–if eating avocados on toast is a popular food trend then moisturising avocado under eye creams is the skincare trend. And if oat porridge has regained popularity as a nutritious breakfast option, oatmeal skin sheet masks for better skin elasticity have become simultaneously available in the market too. It's the same with the consumption of CBD oil, which the nu generation is inhaling in gallons, along with their tea to calm their nerves. Alongside, the CBD oil skin salve, which is the latest answer to irritated skin. The overlap can't be denied. And with information so readily available at our fingertips today, there is a surge in the demand for toxin-free skincare with ingredient transparency. Just eating right is not enough, the products we're slathering over our skins must be 'clean' as well.
Out of curiosity, I took to the power of social media and conducted a little poll on my own Instagram, asking friends and acquaintances to vote on a few questions to help me see just how many of them would choose skincare products with natural extracts over mainstream formulae. Out of a pool of 200 people of both men and women, 74% voted they were more likely to buy a product with natural extracts. I also asked if consciously eating good-for-your-skin foods was something they did, the majority (59%) voted yes. However, where it got interesting was when I asked if people would invest in skincare or eat the right food. 54% voted they'd eat right but the other 46% agreed that buying the right products was an easier way of getting the same job done.
It's no wonder that brands today are taking to natural ingredients. From face scrubs with papaya enzymes and masks with ginseng root extracts to body scrubs with fenugreek seeds and serums with litchis and wild turmeric, the Indian beauty industry has seen a boom in terms of homegrown skincare. And while we do support the concepts of shopping local and sustainability, how much of this can one really buy into?
We asked celebrity dermatologist Jayshree Sharad for her insight on the subject. ''As of now, there is no scientific evidence that this works. It looks promising and seems very enticing but it's still in a fairly nascent stage. You need to understand that not everything can be natural. Products will have chemical preservatives in them. While fruit enzymes sound great, there is no scientific backing to these ingredients. You don't need to drink your chlorophyll, you can eat it when it's in your spinach and kale,'' she pointed out.
The Tested Products:
Vanilla Hazelnut Body Butter by The Skin Pantry
The packaging of the product has rightly called this body butter a souffle-textured skin treat. Made with ingredients like aloe vera, mango butter and cocoa butter, the only drawback this product has is the fact that it had the addition of fragrance oil. However, for me personally, this was never a problem. In fact, not only did I love the heady vanilla-hazelnut scent, but the luxe formula practically melted into my skin, leaving it soft and supple with every use.
Luminous by RAS Luxury Oils
I won't lie, with 12 active botanical ingredients, this product was a little intimidating, even for me. Formulated with the likes of green tea, amla, sandalwood, turmeric root, geranium extracts and more, this lightweight serum claims to soothe inflammation and reduce the appearance of acne scars. My experience with the product? It took a week for my skin to take to it. I did experience some tingling on the first application. However, the serum is supple, hydrating and leaves your skin feeling soft, fresh and cool. While it's too soon for me to see an improvement in my acne scars, I have noticed my skin tone evening out ever since I started using it on my face.
Mighty Mulberry Serum by Ilana:
First impressions? This serum is super easy to use. The water-like consistency of this product is what I liked most. Made with natural ingredients like aloe vera juice, pineapple and blackberry extract, the label says this helps with hydration and lightening of acne marks. For the two weeks that I incorporated this into my AM skincare routine, my complexion not only looked clearer but also brighter. It's safe to say that I was happy with how well this seemed to suit my skin.
Caffeine and Cucumber Under Eye Cream by Neemli Naturals
Of all the potential skin saviours, this was probably what I was most excited to try. With a job that has me staring into a screen for 10-hours a day, I do tend to suffer from eye bags from time to time. This under-eye cream is made with hero ingredients like caffeine and cucumber extracts and jojoba and avocado oil. The application is easy enough and the gel-like formula is cool and smells like bubblegum. While I personally prefer a richer, more cream-based texture for my under-eye region, this product seemed to do the job too.
After spending a month with these natural skincare brands, I can say the products get the work done. Does it make me feel better that I'm using skincare that's not all chemical? Yes. And while I can eat my greens and proteins, if there's a way for me to have them directly infused into my skincare, would I say no? Absolutely not.