In conversation with Ms. Pooja Nagdev, an internationally acclaimed expert in the area of natural ingredients.
Q- As the world is progressing day by day, we’re experiencing the emergence of several trends. What are your comments on the new concept of personalization of beauty products offered by companies?
Have you ever heard of a doctor recommending the same medicine to patients suffering from different diseases? No, right? Then why should there be one single beauty care product for different skin types and problems? The ‘one-size-fits-all-approach’ does not work here. Skin and hair requirements vary across people. This calls for a personalized mix of ingredients for every customer.
Companies overhype this ‘personalization’ as a USP using flashy colors and fragrances in the same base product, claiming that they cater to every diverse skin requirement. Some brands try to outsmart this factor more diplomatically. They change the active ingredients in the composition, keeping the base ingredients the same. These products constitute a whopping dose of emulsifiers, which naturally do more harm to your skin than good.
At Inatur, we honestly cater to each skin care need. Each product is made using a unique mix of base ingredients, which are 100% natural. Zero emulsifiers, zero chemicals. Our transparency is our USP. We do not hide behind confusing names and shady labels.
Confused with the multitude of options for their skin ailments, people go to dermatologists, who prescribe their expensive treatments and chemical-heavy products. These chemicals strip the skin of essential nutrients, which is harmful in the long run. Choosing natural, personalized products, with a unique composition that fits your skin needs is the way to go.
Q- With degrading environmental conditions, the heatwaves, and constant changes in weather affecting the skin in many ways, what tips would you like to share with the readers that can be generally followed with the urban busy schedule and reduce the side effects of weather change on the skin?
It’s going to sound cliche, but it’s true that basics play the key role. A simple, hygienic self-care routine will work wonders. Keeping your scalp dirt-free, nails clipped and filed, face washed twice a day, and of course, drinking plenty of water. Additionally, getting good, restful sleep, staying active, exercising, and meditating regularly are paramount. Besides, it’s no breaking news that the air we breathe is dry, contaminated, and full of chemicals, pollutants, germs, and dust. Water is equally filthy. We’re unavoidably living and breathing in chemicals. The first step we can take towards betterment is to get out of this pit and use products that are chemical-free and naturally conceived. An excellent tip is to use hydrosol on your skin and eyes daily to combat dryness. This hack works like a charm in keeping your skin youthful and hydrated, and the eyes free from dark circles.
Q- How effective do you think Ayurveda is when it comes to the cosmetic needs of a general person? Do you think the current attitude and opinion in the country towards Ayurveda with respect to skincare is the ideal positioning, or there’s scope for improvement?
Ayurveda is as much a science as an art. It has trickled down to modern India through our ancient roots. Thanks to technology, we’ve been able to use precious ayurvedic herbs for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Ayurvedic ingredients offer rewarding benefits to our skin and hair, which are highly effective for our cosmetic needs. The underlying concept of Ayurvedic products is that it cleanses the body and blood of unwanted toxins. This eradicates the root cause of every skin and hair-related issue.
Most of the current attitude towards Ayurveda stems from products and companies that use it as a fad marketing gimmick. Brands overuse the keywords like ‘Neem’, ‘Aloe Vera’, and ‘Herbs’ and claim to be ayurvedic. This creates a false interpretation for gullible consumers, who fall into the trap and invest in products that have almost zero Ayurvedic composition. I believe we need strict guidelines to get an ’‘Ayurvedic’ label.
Truly Ayurvedic products have a certain bitter taste and smell that a consumer would generally avoid. But with the use of aromatherapy like essential oils, we have the option to make these products pleasant-smelling and attractive to them.
Q- Pooja, as you have a great experience in the field of research regarding natural ingredients, please enlighten us with the findings of one of your most remarkable works?
The process of research is incredibly fulfilling and a rewarding experience for me. Whatever the end result may be, the in-lab research is always fascinating and innovative. There are, however, a couple of achievements that personally make me proud. We launched an eco-certified collagen product range which is very dear to me. This was a breakthrough launch as plant-based collagen in India is impossible to find. We had spent a lot of passion, time, and work in testing and launching this range. It was a roaring success in the market and received much love from people. This range of collagen products includes everything, from serum to night cream.
Another product very close to my heart is the Karpooradi range from Inatur. It’s an outstanding product that we manufactured using ginger, camphor, and wintergreen. The all-natural consistency of this product gives you the best benefits of each ingredient, giving a touch of rejuvenation with every use. In fact, our Karpooradi Shower gel and face wash users actually claimed to be addicted to the results and can’t stop using it! It’s the perfect blend of medicinal and holistic benefits and works wonders on oily skin.
A unique and interesting find is the striking similarity between Ayurvedic products and wine. The more they age, the better, more mature, and more beneficial they become over the years.
Q- What was the first milestone and how did you get there?
Frankly speaking, we’ve achieved bigger milestones by taking baby steps throughout the way. The key to success isn’t achieved overnight, it lies in taking things one day at a time. The first milestone that we achieved, even before we got into manufacturing, was when we dived into research and learning. The scientific formulation of the prototypes, gaining knowledge about each ingredient, and getting our products approved by the FDA was our first big breakthrough.
We had undertaken the initiative to send samples and testers to our audience. Receiving positive feedback from them was the icing on the cake.
Q- What were the 3 best business/financial decisions you made?
Manufacturing and exporting our unique products was one of the best business decisions we made, as it helped us tap a worldwide marketspace. Owing to our entry into the big space, we narrowed down on transparent labeling. This was back in 2008-08 when our first labels were under creation. From preservatives to base ingredients, we mutually agreed to mention everything that went into the manufacturing of the formula on the label.
To supplement that, we unanimously decided to participate in an international exhibition. This gave us a significant boost even before starting retail in India, as we had already catered to the international market and exports were thriving.
Stepping into retail around 2012, and developing our own personalized store was our second best decision. Getting direct feedback from in-store buyers was the fuel we needed to establish a majestic and trustworthy market presence. Our outlets became a direct medium of getting feedback from customers, and also garnering word-of-mouth audiences.
And finally, the third-best decision that I believe we took was our most fundamental one – developing a purely organic brand. When the business was in its early stages of development, we had agreed to take things a notch above the mean. Quality was our non-negotiable factor, and it surpassed even the cost. We went completely natural with our ingredients and delivered very niche, pure cosmetics. Because we became selective with what we were doing, the number of competitors in the market was slashed to less than half.
Q- Any message you would like to convey to the readers that could help them trust Ayurveda and the power of natural ingredients?
An inherent trait in most customers is that they are always on the lookout for quick solutions to every problem. The biggest drawback with quick fixes is that most of these are superficial results. Your results will be short-lived, and then you’ll go back to square one.
This is another marketing gimmick, as it will compel you to use the product again, trapping you in an endless loop. It benefits nobody except the businesses. Customers need to change their mindset and accept that slow, progressive results are the real deal. It’s like choosing to solve the problem from scratch instead of firefighting it from time to time.
Ayurveda gives you gradually and 100% progressive results for your skin problems. The reason Ayurvedic products take time to deliver results is that they hit the root problem and work on slowly eradicating it. The time-taking process is what makes customers skip Ayurvedic solutions. But once you start to look at it in the long term, you realize that you won’t ever have this problem again.
The results that you see from an authentic Ayurvedic product are life-changing and there to stay. The very word “Ayur-veda” describes ageless longevity through the Indian Vedas, so what’s keeping you from trusting it? It increases your lifespan and cures you of the inside. There’s a quote by Swami Rama that fits here “Life does not need to be changed, only our intents and actions do.”