The Rise And Rise Of Homegrown Skincare Brands

Indian skincare brands have undoubtedly made great strides in the last few years; we investigate how this happened and take a peek at a few such brands.

Published On Apr 16, 2024 | Updated On Apr 26, 2024


Gone are the days when we’d wait for our relatives or friends to bring us tubs and tubes of creams and lotions from abroad simply to be slathered on without a second thought; not to mention so many of these probably weren’t even suited to Indian weather and skin types! Today, not only are some of the biggest skincare brands from across the world entering the Indian market, but it is in fact, the homegrown ones that have carved quite a big niche for themselves by offering high-quality products at affordable pricing, along with dermat-backed formulations that offer targeted solutions. 

So, what’s led to this happy development? “Indian consumers are now more aware of their skincare needs and are on a constant quest for the right products,” says Vaishali Gupta, co-founder and chief growth officer, Hyphen, a solution-oriented skincare brand, that launched in 2023 and was co-founded by Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon. “During the lockdown, we saw a spike in demand for skincare ingredients, but there was also a lack of brands providing customers with what they desired at affordable rates. Today, the scenario has changed considerably, and the founders have a solid understanding of the market’s requirements.” 

Elizabeth Isaac, Founder of Gunam Beauty – another new homegrown skincare brand that’s quickly making its mark – drives home an important point when she says, “Many concerns that Indian skin is usually susceptible to were often overlooked by Western or mainstream brands. This led to a rise in niche beauty brands that launched products to help with more specific issues that melanin-rich faces deal with.” She points out that even in developed markets such as the US, there’s been a tremendous rise in POC-owned beauty brands that have had great success because they address issues that many of the more prominent brands failed to address, leaving a massive gap in the market. 

Hyphen’s Gupta adds, “It’s great to see homegrown brands recognising these gaps in the market and blending them with current trends. For instance, they’re now catering to various skin types instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach. There’s also a growing awareness about ingredients like retinoids, AHA, BHA, etc., and how they address specific skin issues, especially those common among people with beautiful brown skin. Homegrown brands are stepping up with solutions for everyone, ensuring there’s something for every need and preference.” 

Isaac too, feels, “Given the unique challenges of melanin-rich skin, many homegrown brands are incorporating actives that keep in mind inflammatory conditions such as PIH (Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) and melasma.” She even points out that the influx of lightweight, white-cast-free K-Beauty sunscreens have made Indian brands up their game and launch sunscreens more suitable for our skin type, skin colours, and weather. 

We spoke to leading dermatologist Dr. Niti Gaur, Medical Director and Founder of Citrine Clinic, Gurgaon to get an expert opinion on homegrown skincare brands and whether they meet the mark when it comes to quality skincare. She says, “Indian skincare brands today are making remarkable progress in terms of product quality, innovation, and effectiveness. While international brands have long been established and have a global presence, Indian brands are showcasing their potential to compete on a similar level.” 

“The formulations of homegrown Indian skincare brands have shown considerable promise in terms of utilising natural ingredients and catering to specific skin concerns,” she adds. “While some Indian skincare brands may still be refining their formulations and production processes, many have managed to create products that rival or even outperform some international brands.” 

Dr. Gaur also feels that with advancements in technology and increased access to information, local entrepreneurs and manufacturers are now able to develop and market their skincare products more efficiently. 
Hyphen’s Gupta points out that social media has, in fact, made it easier to understand and share the benefits of numerous ingredients along with their uses, and people are more mindful of what they apply to their skin. Dr Gaur echoes this, adding, “The rise of social media influencers and beauty bloggers has played a significant role in promoting Indian skincare brands to a wider audience.” 

But she cautions that before using a new brand or product, it is essential to assess the ingredients, certifications, and clinical studies backing these formulations to ensure their safety and effectiveness. 

Dr. Gaur hits the nail on the head as she says, “Homegrown Indian skincare brands embody a sense of pride and cultural heritage, drawing inspiration from traditional practices and natural resources. The diversity of flora and fauna in India provides a rich source of botanical ingredients that are being harnessed by these brands. Moreover, the emphasis on sustainability, organic farming, and ethical sourcing is gaining traction among Indian skincare brands, resonating with environmentally conscious consumers globally.” 

“While the journey of Indian skincare brands may involve overcoming challenges such as regulatory compliance, building brand reputation, and expanding market reach, the future looks promising as they continue to innovate and elevate the standards of skincare products,” concludes Dr Gaur. 

 What stands out for us about d’you (pronounced ‘due’) is that instead of launching multiple products in one go, it has focused on only a handful but power-packed formulations in the last few years such as a much-loved serum, undereye patches, a barrier repair moisturiser, a cleansing balm, and most recently, an innovative capsule sunscreen. Founded in 2021 by Shamika Haldipurkar, this science-based beauty brand was born from the desire to change people’s perspective towards the ill-founded fear against chemicals that had penetrated the beauty industry. 

Latest launch: Unkissed Sunscreen 

At Gunam, sustainably sourced Indian ingredients meets French skincare expertise. Gunam, meaning goodness, benefit, and virtue in Malayalam, was born out of Kerala and founded by Elizabeth Issac just a couple of years ago. The brand prides itself in harnessing the power of state-of-the-art active ingredients deeply rooted and inspired by Ayurveda. The founder chose France for manufacturing because of its stringent regulations, which ensure high-quality skincare every step of the way. Today, Gunam’s star products include the Daily Liquid Exfoliant and the Multi- Correctional Face Oil. 

Latest launch: Gunam four-step routine 

Known for some its bestselling viral sunscreens, this dermatologist-formulated skincare brand offers products designed specifically for Indian skin, based on the clinical experiences, knowledge & expertise of three generations of skin doctors. While it was established by the Sheth family, Honasa Consumer, the parent company of Mama earth, acquired Dr Sheth’s in 2022. Dr. Sheth’s mission continues with a focus to bring Indian skincare into the 21st century and give Indians to access high-quality, scientific solutions made specifically for their skin. 

Latest launch: Gulab & Glycolic Acid Oil-free Moisturizer 

Founded in 2019 by Prachi Bhandari and Aman Mohunta, Aminu’s goal has been to make it easy for everyone to have effective yet gentle skincare every day. The brand uses clinically proven ingredients and innovations to create high-performance formulas that offer multiple benefits, thus simplifying skincare routines. Regulars swear by their Copper Peptide Serum and Melting Balm Cleanser. 

Latest launch: BioRetinol Cream 

Co-founded by Kriti Sanon, Hyphen as a brand is customer-driven and develops products suitable for Indian skin. The brand aims to bring together the power of nature and the potency of science, successfully hyphenating multiple things together including good actives and natural ingredients to form an effective product meant for everyone. The products are vegan, toxin-free, and cruelty-free. The packaging is eco-friendly and the products won’t burn a hole in your pocket. 

Latest launch: Resurfacing 10% AHA BHA PHA Exfoliator 

Ask any skincare enthusiast about Suganda’s Lactic Body Lotion and chances are they’ll know about this viral product. This homegrown brand which started small, in fact, recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The brand was born when founder Bindu Amrutham and her son were suffering from acute skin problems, and none of the products available locally were working for them. Out of sheer determination, she took it upon herself to learn about the science and solutions to these problems and created Suganda with the vision of providing skincare that was effective yet gentle on the skin. 

Latest launch: Total Defence Sunscreen 

When it comes to Dot & Key, you come for the candy-coloured packaging and stay for the lightweight formulations, efficacy and affordability. It’s got everything from sunscreens and face serums to cleansers and lip balms. Founded in 2018 by husband-and-wife duo Suyash and Anisha Saraf, the brand offers a wide variety of products offering highly targeted solutions. Take its sunscreens for example – it has a vitamin C sunscreen for glowing skin, a cooling watermelon sunscreen, another one for barrier repair and its newest, a longer-lasting sports sunscreen. 

Latest launch: Swim + Sports SPF 50 Sunscreen

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