The founders of Ghlee, Hymnologie and Sahajan share how childhood memories inspired their Ayurvedic-rooted skincare ranges.
Each culture has its teachings and learnings, preserved as pearls of wisdom and transmitted from generation to generation. Growing up, I remember ghee (clarified butter) being a treat for dinner. My mom used to spread it on rotis and mix it into our rice for that extra buttery goodness. Cooking ingredients also seemed to find a place in my family’s beauty regimes, like homemade face masks made with turmeric, yogurt and honey to soothe dry skin or coconut oil massaged into the skin. hair. Little did I know that years later these routines would also become a weekly ritual for me. And it wasn’t until I became a beauty and culture writer that I realized how all of these ingredients are tied to Ayurveda, which translates to “knowledge of life.” This centuries-old Indian healing system encourages natural therapies to restore balance between body, mind and spirit. Thus, Ayurvedic skincare and beauty products use herbs and plant-derived ingredients in a holistic approach to nourish the skin and hair, inside and out. Here are three Canadian-based South Asian beauty brands that have harnessed the powers of these traditions.
Co-founder Varun Sharma recalls his mother telling him to “just put ghee on” his dry lips during cold Canadian winters. “He started tinkering with our dad’s ghee recipe and other ingredients like vitamin E and coconut oil and five months later he developed Ghlee,” shares sister and co-founder Arati. Sharma. The family business extends beyond the brother-sister duo. “My sister Deepika works on the content, our mother fulfills the orders and our father manages the production of ghee,” she adds.
Ghee is just beginning to gain popularity in North America: Used for centuries by South and Southeast Asians as a kitchen staple, the potent butter is now making its way into grocery stores and diets. the fashion. And although it’s rooted in the kitchen, “Ayurvedic medicine refers to ghee as a balm to soothe burns and as a powerful moisturizer to heal dry skin and dry hair, being rich in healthy fatty acids like omega 3s. and 9 and vitamins A, D, E and K,” notes Arati.
The property is particularly meaningful to Arati, who has grown frustrated with how South Asian and other cultures are appropriated in the wellness industry. “It’s important that South Asian founders lead South Asian products so that stories are shared through our lens,” she says. And she passes it on to the other BIPOC women: Arati is also an angel investor, providing funds to BIPOC women and founders, especially in the area of e-commerce, who are often overlooked by traditional investors.
Whether donating to food banks or supporting local women’s organizations with personal care packages, Varun and Arati put community at the forefront of their brand, recognizing and appreciating that their first and most loyal customers found within the community. “Our goal is not to try to represent every South Asian and Ayurvedic ritual – just those that we, as members of the diaspora, have adopted from our immigrant parents,” says Arati.
It was the culmination of life events that led Dr. Jigyasa Sharma to found Hymnology in 2020. She treated acne as a teenager, learned about the harmful effects of synthetics and preservatives while studying the dentistry and has acquired a hyper-awareness of what is harmful. the chemicals in her skin care could do during pregnancy. When she arrived in Canada with her husband and two children, she realized how much she relied on homemade natural remedies from her native India, which made her decide to embark on the adventure to become a creator of beauty brands.
Sharma drew inspiration from her mother’s homemade skincare—organic complexion-boosting recipes that require minimal processing and are free of synthetics and parabens—to deliver skincare solutions that focus on the purity of their ingredients. “The introduction of Ayurvedic skincare, like Hymnology, to the Western world comes at a time when consumer awareness of ingredients is increasing and demand for all-natural, preservative-free products is high, especially after the out of COVID,” she shares.
For Sharma, paying homage to the communities that have shaped who she is today is also essential. Ingredients like chamomile, calendula and saffron come from the foothills of the Himalayas, which are surrounded by the forest reserve – one of the purest natural paradises in the world. She also wants to pay tribute to the roots of this country. “Hymnologie donates 5% of all proceeds to the Legacy of Hope Foundation, which works to raise awareness of the history of the residential school system, fight racism, and promote equal rights for aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Sharma believes beauty isn’t just about skin. “I see it in my children’s laughter, in my grandmother’s hugs and in the way we take care of ourselves,” she says. “What you pay attention to becomes beautiful.” It is with this philosophy that she strives to create products that will not only evoke the senses, but also provide a beautiful experience of self-love and self-care, creating a harmonious balance between mind, body and soul.
Sahajan comes from the word sahaja, which in Hindi means “intuitive”. Unexpectedly, it was her mother’s intuition that prompted founder Lisa Mattam to launch the brand. “Sahajan started for me the day I told my daughter she couldn’t play with my skincare because I was worried about what the chemicals would do to her beautiful young skin,” says -she. It was then that Mattam realized that the only products she trusted for her daughter were the oils and creams found in the tiny bottles her parents brought back from their native Kerala in southern India. . She came to realize that the homemade concoctions she grew up with, loaded with ingredients like turmeric, triphala (a dried fruit herbal remedy) and ashwagandha and gotu kola herbal extracts, were more than family traditions – they were elixirs steeped in the science of Ayurveda.
“I studied deeper and realized that Ayurveda is the gateway to wellness and beauty,” Mattam shares. “I wanted to share the healing system with people in a meaningful way: drawing on ancient texts, working with Ayurvedic doctors in India, and combining that with my background in pharmaceuticals to clinically demonstrate that the ‘Ayurveda gives unparalleled results.”
Beyond its mission to give shoppers cleaner skincare, Mattam knew from its inception that Sahajan would involve giving back. Along with the brand’s Lip Karmas, which were launched in conjunction with Plan International Canada’s Because I’m a Girl campaign, AccelerateHER by Sahajan was born last spring. The initiative matches businesses with volunteer mentors (all Canadian women entrepreneurs), with the goal of providing each cohort of women with an increased knowledge base to grow their business. And as Sahajan evolves with new innovations, so does its success: starting in October, the brand will be launched in rooms at the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, W and JW Marriott hotels.
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This article first appeared in FASHION’s October issue. Learn more here.