A complete guide to India’s truly natural skincare brands – 1

Many of you must be interested in switching to natural/organic skincare and beauty products, but could be hesitant. One reason is that, the popular ones we all know of are mostly luxury brands (like Forest Essentials & Kama Ayurveda), which are obviously very expensive. Also sometimes people blindly buys products from brands claiming to be natural/organic, when in reality they might just have a very small percentage of natural ingredients and thereby end up having a bad experience. Sometimes even the most popular brands we know hides majority of their ingredients under the name ‘base’, eg: Biotique.

Handmade natural skincare products are safe and are multitasking ones. For eg: a handmade soap made with natural ingredients can be used as a hair, body and face cleanser.  Would you dare to use your shampoo as a face cleanser otherwise?

There are many Indian natural skincare brands that sells quality products at affordable prices. These brands are transparent about the ingredients used and gives all the ingredient info in the label. Here is the list of few such natural Indian skincare brands, that I have already introduced you through the different posts.

1. Juicy Chemistry

The first time I tried JC products was three years back when they had just the fb handle and some amazing products. Now they have grown to be a very popular organic certified brand with a store in Coimbatore and products extensively available through online sites.

The brand is started by a husband wife duo, Pritesh and Megha Asher. The products are pure and made of high quality ingredients and has 0% chemicals/preservatives. All their products smell amazing because of the exquisite combination of essential oils. So eventhough you might feel this is not very pocket friendly, let me tell you, it is worth the price.

Products I recommend:  Body scrubs, body butters, soaps, face mists.

Read my reviews :

Juicy Chemistry citrus and sage foot scrub

Decadent body scrubs for all skin types

Juicy Chemistry Rose Sandalwood Mask

Juicy Chemistry Hazelnut & Vanilla Latte Soap

My favorites and not so favorites from Juicy Chemistry

Spicy Apple Pie anyone???

Juicy Chemistry : Choco-Vanila Body Butter – Now discontinued

2. Gia bath and body works

This is the first natural skincare brand I tried. I wouldn’t call all products completely natural as some of them contains fragrances and safe food colors. The brand is run by Gayatri based on Mumbai. She takes into account customer suggestions and even customizes perfumes. Her soaps are a work of art and looks edible. The fragrances are so good that your bathroom will smell amazing.

Products I recommend: Chocolate creme silk soap, cup cake soaps, oats based face cleansers in various flavours.

Read my reviews :

Pomegranate facial cleanser from Gia 

Daily cleansing method for soft and glowing skin

A divine chocolate soap you will fall in love with

Butter Cream Whipped Soaps

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Mintensity Foot soak
3. Zofla

This is one of my recent finds. I have used just one product from this brand, which is the rose water face mist. Unlike many commonly available brands like Dabur that sells chemical solution in the name of rose water (check out the ingredient list next time you feel like buying this : Aqua, Fragrance, Rose Oil, Propylene Glycol, Propyl Paraben, Methyl Paraben, Bronopol.), this rose water is made by steam distillation of organic Kannauj rose petals.

The product comes in a plastic spray bottle and can be just sprayed on to your skin for a boost of hydration, freshness and can be also used to mix your face packs or to calm skin inflammations. I bought this from amazon and it costs only 160Rs for 100ml.
4. Greenberry Organics

Started by a Mom-son duo, this brand is the first ECOCERT certified brand in India. I have used their most popular product, MUDASH 3 In 1 Face Mask, Scrub and Cleanser. The particles are a bit too gritty and hence suitable best as a body scrub. The brand also offers many more skin, body and hair care products.

Read myreview : Best Skincare Finds : Multitasking products for all skin types

5. Blend It Raw Apothecary

Incase you wish to whip up your own skincare recipes or if you are an essential oil junkie, this is the best brand to buy all the flower powders, clays, oils, face mists and what not. I would always recommend getting the ingredients and making products like face mask, scrub, lipbalms, body butters on your own; because then you really know what goes into the product and also these are much cost effective but equally good. The brand is the brain child of my fellow blogger and skincare enthusiast Aarushi, based in Delhi.

Read my review : Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes
6. Krya

With roots strongly based on Ayurveda, Krya adhers strictly to the age old textual methods of product preparation. This is a lifestyle brand and apart from skin and hair care products, this brand has baby care and home care products as well that are 100% herbal, vegan & cruelty-free.

Preethi Sukumaran, one of the founders, always finds time to respond to customer queries. She prescribes a holistic approach where she suggests changes to lifestyle and food habits. She also posts videos in the Krya blog addressing the lifestyle issues of urban life and ayurvedic way of living.

Products I recommend: Hair oil and hair wash powder, hair color, detergent.

Read my review: 

Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

All natural and safe home care products
7. Burst of Happyness

Baed on Pune and run by Shreya Sharan Pawar, this brand was started as a result of her quest to find remedy to the allergies brought about by chemical based skincare products. The brand offers vegan soaps, shampoo bars, serums and many more body care products.

Product I recommend: Natural deodorants in lavender and rose scents.

Read my review: All natural and vegan deodorant
8. Cape Of Good Hope

Manisha creates beautiful art in soaps. Her soaps looks so pretty and smells amazing as well. The last product she sent me was a geode soap customized with ingredients that are harmonious with my zodiac. She also customizes products based on customer needs.

Products I recommend: Let Manisha know your skin concerns and leave the rest to her. My favorites are the Rose wine scrub and Green tea soap.

Read my reviews:

CGH Pepper soap review and a little surprise

Take time to smell the roses

Teas Please from Cape of Good soap

Cape of Good Soap : Rosewood and Mint soap

9. Junaili

Can a product so simple and pure that it is a raw material in itself, be as effective as the skin care concoctions with many exotic ingredients?

Junaili carries the purity of the Uttarakhand mountains and mist. This himalayan apothecary run by a family, uses just one raw material : Apricot.

The cold pressed apricot oil is customized into hair, face and body oils and the kernals are processed into scrubs.

Read my review: http://flavoursofbeauty.com/junaili-apricot-body-scrub-simple-and-pure/
10. Ancient Ayurveda

This Kerala based brand works with Prajwala, the world’s largest anti-human-trafficking shelter based in India, to empower women. Wood ash soaps are their specialty and these soaps oozes of ayurvedic tailas. The soaps are so soft and melts easily.

Read my review: Ancient Ayurveda Woodash Soaps

11. Amara Organix

This Chennai based brand is by the lovely lady, Mehar. You name it and they have it, a wide range of skin care, bath and body products and exotic soaps that caters to all kinds of skin care needs.

Recommended: Handmade soaps,  Brightening Face mask

Read my review: Moisturizers and face masks curated for summers : Introducing The Skin Pantry and Amara Organix

Hope you liked this post. I have not included any luxury brands in this feature. I will be consolidating more products and introduce you to more authentic brands in the upcoming posts.

Comment below about your favorite natural skincare brands and the recommended products.

Best Skincare Finds : Multitasking products for all skin types

This is going to be a short post on 3 of my current favorite skin polishes. I will be doing a detailed review of these in the upcoming posts.

1. 3 in 1 Mud Ash by Green berry organics

Tea tree oil is one of my go to things when it comes to break out or irritated skin and charcoal as well all know is highly detoxifying. So here is a great combination of both that can be used as a cleanser, scrub or as a face pack.

With impressive ingredients like bentonite clay, charcoal, tea tree oil, walnut shell powder and many more, this wet face pack+cleanser+scrub suits all skin types except for sensitive ones. I bought this from Amazon and it smells of tea tree oil. It has a cooling effect on skin when applied and has grainy scrubby powder that can be a bit harsh for sensitive skin types.

2. Gravitale Revitalizing Skin Gel

Sold exclusively on purplle.com, this grape based skin gel is nothing short of a luxury product. Gravitale is the world’s first integrated vinotherapy products company to exclusively grow their own grapes for skincare purposes. Imagine a vineyard with grapes used just for making pure skincare products.

Grapes are a source of phenolic antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and Vitamin C. Even though there are no physical scrubby particles, this gel gives an exfoliated effect after use. It makes the skin soft, smooth and glowing.

Steps for that perfect glow:

1. Double cleanse your face with a light non sticky oil. Find the detailed post here
2. Wipe off the excess oil and apply a thin layer of the revitalizing gel
3. Wait for 10min and wash off with warm water.

TADAAAA….SOFT GLOWING SKIN

3. The cult favorite : Forest Essentials Narangi & Nagkesar Facial Ubtan

If you want to buy one product from FE that is multitasking and effective for your skin, this is the one. Also the rates have increased in the Forest Essentials official site for this but I got it from Nykaa.com, where the price was still not updated. I knew there might be an price rise after GST hits..so I was keeping a track on the prices in the FE site. So next time you buy an expensive product, check the same in other sites like Amazon and Nykaa because they might still have the old stock at reduced prices.

This is an ubtan that smells like an orange orchard. Mild on skin and is best when used with curd or rose water.

Detailed reviews will be up with more pictures in the coming blog posts.

Why you need to convert from sanitary pads or tampons to Menstrual Cups

I know that not many of us are well aware of what menstrual cups are and will have quite a lot of questions about this. Through this post I intend to share my experience with using menstrual cup as an alternative to pads or tampons. I seriously wish someone had introduced this to me when I was in school.

How I was introduced to menstrual cups (MC for ease of typing throughout this post :P) :

I knew that this product exist as some of the organic brands I follow sells this. But it was when my colleague told me about how using MC has changed her life, that I felt like trying it out. Now coming to think about it, it’s not just that. Usually when we are at home, we don’t care much about waste disposal part as our moms takes care of it. But since I moved to an apartment where the waste disposal is really a pain, I have been conscious about minimizing the quantity of waste, be it bio-degradable or not. Also since choosing to live in an environmentally conscious manner, I was really disturbed about the amount of non-biodegradable waste in the form of sanitary pads, we dump every month.It comes to a bag full and just goes in land fills. So all of us women combined, really causes a huge impact in polluting the earth. But well, so far we could say that we had no choice. But now that I am aware of the alternative which is so much better that using pads or tampons for us as well as environment,this should be made aware to all. So let me start by telling you my learning curve of using a menstrual cup and how it has changed my period days in a very positive way.

What is a menstrual cup??

MC is a flexible bell shaped cup,which is usually made of medical grade silicone. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid (blood). Some of you might find this gross already and feel that ‘No I am not doing this’, but trust me I have been through that and just read on, as this is a life saver and can just make your life so easy and comfortable.

Menstrual cups comes in different sizes, mostly medium and large (for this brand). Medium is for women under 30, who has not given birth vaginally and the larger size is normally recommended for women who are over 30, have given birth vaginally, or have an unusually heavy flow.

For some motivation, let me give you few reasons of why MC rocks!!!

1. Huge money saver > One MC can be used for upto 10 years depending on how you maintain it. So think of all the money you save by not buying tampons or padds.
2. No leakage what so ever, if you insert it correctly. Not even a drop on the days of heavy flows.
3. No wet feeling, actually you really have to remind yourself that you have this on. You may as well forget that you are menstruating,as you wouldn’t feel a thing.
4. No headache of changing pads regularly,as this can be used at once upto 12 hrs, depending on the flow. So you don’t have to sneak a pad to the rest room in office or school and can be carefree till you get home.
5. No problem of disposing waste. Incase you are sleeping over at a friend’s or relatives place at this time of the month, remember how awkward it feels to ask where to dispose the pad. Actually in my hostels girls used to flush it, and it was so gross to see it stuck there. So ya with MC there is no such worry. Just have to clean it with water or tissue.
6. Can be used while swimming or while in activities without having to worry. Trust me, I used to avoid long journeys on those days. But now I have no worries.
7. There is no known report of Toxic shock syndrome, where keeping bloodied pads/tampons for long time causes potentially fatal bacterial illness
8. Most important of all it is sustainable and helps the environment. Each year,billions of pads and tampons are discarded which typically end up in landfills or are incinerated, which can have a great impact on the environment. Most of the pads and tampons are made of cotton and plastic. Plastic takes about 50 or more years and cotton starts degrading after 90 days if it’s composted.
9. Easily available online and in stores
10. Great for those unsure days. Everyone wastes atleast 2 pads or panty liners a month, thinking it might start on a partiular day. Especially for us working women, we can’t take any risks while traveling. This one makes sure that you don’t have to wear the uncomfortable pads and waste them on those days.
11. And as an additional point, it just gives you a better understanding of your body and it’s cycle. It’s you blood and it is not gross.

In rural areas of the country, menstruation stops the education of girls and involvement of girls in social activities, due to lack of sanitation facilities,fear of leaking, or even the monthly expenses involved. The use of unhygienic alternatives causes infections and health issues. MC offer a longer-term solution as they do not need to be replaced monthly and ensures menstrual hygiene as long as there is access to clean water.

So if all the above points influenced you to move to MC, read about my learning curve using one. The mistakes I made will help you not to make them and to start using MCs immediately. But just take it easy and most likely no one gets it right on one go.

Journey of converting to MC from pads
I bought the WOW Eva cup for under 30 from Amazon. Now I can’t find the same brand in Amazon, so just linking from another site so that you get an idea Eva cup link
It comes in a storage pouch made of cloth and a bottle of gentle feminine wash an I bought it for around Rs 699.

First month :
Tried using it as per instructions from the product pack and failed miserably. I folded the cup into a C shape and tried inserting it, but failed as this felt quite big to insert inside. So I did not use it. Instead I watched many youtube videos and there are a few about different folds of the cup. So you can choose any fold that is easy and comfortable for you to help get this inside. This really helped me as I felt the C fold in the packet didn’t make any sense for a beginner. So I tried the shell fold/punch line fold and I was easily able to insert the cup inside. This time I just tried inserting it in and taking it out a couple of times, around the last day of periods.

Trying this when you don’t have periods might make it difficult to insert, as during periods the walls are not so tight and also the area is wet and hence easy to slide the cup in. Making the cup wet might help as well. Also it is very easy to clean it, just hold it under running water or clean it with tissue.

Second month :
Used it on the second last day of periods and found that it was slightly leaking. Big disappointment!!! But I found in a video that after inserting, we have to make sure that the folds have opened inside. So I had to just insert a finger and run it along the walls of the cup to make sure it is in the unfolded form. So it was still folded inside. So I just pulled the stem gently in and out to reposition it and voila no more issues.On pulling out the cup, direct it to the toilet and empty it immediately so that it doesn’t make any mess.

Also if you are not confident enough, use a pad after inserting the cup, until you get the hang of it.So that even if it leaks because of the wrong way in which you inserted it, there is an extra protection. Don’t worry, in a couple of tries you will know if the position is correct or not.

Third month :
Tried this from day one and did an overnight travel for 12 hrs in bus wearing this. There was a pad ofcourse for my confidence and I felt in the morning that it had all leaked and made the pad very wet. You know that sliding feeling of the pad. But when I reached home and checked, there wasn’t even a drop! That’s when I realized that it’s not all the bleeding that makes us uncomfortable, it’s the pad itself.

After this there was no looking back. I am using this every month and not rescheduling travels or vacations because of my monthly.

Things to remember :

1. Relax and take your time. Probably after a bath and at a time when you won’t be interrupted. You cannot rush through this until you get the hang of it.
2. Sit in a squat position to easily insert the cup.. Don’t try to insert it vertically. Always insert at an angle of 45 degree.
3. Follow the same rule while removing the cup. Pull at an angle gently and not vertically down.
4. You might over estimate how much you bleed. Mostly a medium sized cup will suffice.
5. Follow the instructions about cleaning and storing in the product box religiously.

I know you might still have a lot of questions. Feel free to comment below or DM me on my instagram or facebook handle. If you liked the post, do share it with your friends,daughters, sisters or cousins, especially the ones who goes to schools and colleges.

Here are a few links that might be helpful:

Step by step guide for first time
Different folds for cups


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