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Indian beauty rituals the world is obsessed with right now

min read
Indian Beauty Rituals That Are Trending In 2024 - Tira
Indian Beauty Rituals That Are Trending In 2024 - Tira

Once upon a time, Indian cultural exports were treated as exotic at best and were appropriated at worst. Today, our beauty rituals, traditions and ingredients are more than just a subject of curiosity. They’re being experimented with—and are adapted to be relevant and practical in the 2020s. Effective, sustainably-sourced and produced, and with their advantages proven over more than two millennia, they are now occupying prime positions in global stores. It helps that the South Asians are embracing their colour, identity and heritage, further popularising the rituals and products they grew up with, and making the world take notice.

Ayurveda continues to rise in popularity

Whether it’s neem oil, amla extracts or haircare products formulated with bhringraj, it's hard to miss the impact that Ayurveda has had on Indian beauty. Today, skincare routines are taking a customised approach, and Ayurveda’s philosophy of bringing balance to the body fits into this seamlessly. With homegrown brands being launched in stores internationally—and international dermatologists adopting ingredients like ashwagandha and turmeric along with glycolic acid and PRP treatments—it’s no wonder that detailed diet plans, treatments and beauty trends with Ayurveda at their centre, are dominating social media.

Trending in 2024—Indian rituals from 2000 BC

1. Championing the champi

Who could have predicted that our beloved haircare ritual, the champi, could become a worldwide obsession? Last year’s trend of hair slugging has been inspired by multiple cultures, including ours. Hair slugging, as the name suggests, is a version of the original champi and involves slathering an occlusive moisturiser or oil on your hair instead of your face. There are two versions—a lightweight one, where oil is applied only on the ends. The other is something we might be familiar with—oil application from the roots to the tips. In both cases, it’s left on overnight, wrapped in a soft cotton tee to help the hair follicles or scalp to absorb the oil, without breaking or damaging the hair shaft.

Sure, the routine loses out on the familial bonding that the champi is often associated with, but the result—shiny, healthy hair—is the same. Being haircare, it’s nuanced—your skin type and condition define what kind of oil would be best for you. For instance, if you’re looking to combat hairfall, bhringraj or rosemary essential oil suspended in a carrier oil are both excellent options.

Today, spas across the world offer versions of the champi-inspired scalp massage. International brands have launched beauty products like hair serums and luxurious oil blends specifically for this ritual. You can even enroll in a workshop to understand the basics of a self-administered massage, to increase blood circulation and grow healthier hair. 

2. Any way you wand it

Hair oiling isn’t the only ancient Indian ritual to cross over to international shores. Thanks to the rise in popularity of gua shas, face yoga and jade rollers, the kansa face wand is also enjoying its moment in the sun. Kansa, an alloy of copper, is said to help balance the skin’s pH, improve sensitivity and texture, as well as reduce inflammation. The tool is shaped like a wooden pestle with a copper end that is used to massage in your skincare product of choice.

The sheer number of videos showing how to use the wand is in itself indicative of just how impactful this beauty trend is. Using the right amount of pressure, the wand can be used to massage the face from the middle moving outwards, towards the ear lobes (where you’ll find the lymph nodes). While the relaxing massage is great in itself, it also helps to drain built-up toxins by directing it towards the lymph nodes. Used with your favourite face oil or moisturiser, it becomes a good way to indulge in a bit of skincare me-time.

3. Brush hour

You might think dry brushing was a Scandinavian gift, but the practice of using a body brush to massage dry skin before a shower or bath is also inspired by the Vedas. Known as garshana, dry brushing uses ubtans or loofahs to gently dry brush the whole body. This exfoliates dead skin, gives your skin that much-desired glow and also improves circulation. Some claim that regular practice reduces the appearance of cellulite, too. Dry brushing must be followed by a warm shower or bath and the application of oil or moisturiser on damp skin to ensure your skin is well-hydrated after this ritual. 

4. Kohl me maybe

No conversation about Indian beauty is complete without mentioning the art of applying kajal. Your bag of cosmetics, minimal or otherwise, will be carrying some version of it—and chances are, you’re applying it the same way as your ancestors did centuries ago. Both designer and indie brands are making a splash with butter-smooth kajals, or kohls, even available in a rainbow of colours. One of the latest makeup trends—remarkably close to the ancient ways of kajal application—includes drawing a line or dot on a finger and pressing it at an angle to the corner of your eye for an effortless cat eye.

Ingredients native to India that are now sold abroad

1. Ashwagandha

From herbal hot chocolate to gummy supplements, the impact of ashwagandha, a traditional medicinal herb, reflects in its many new iterations. Stores across the world are rapidly selling oral supplements of this powerful antioxidant promising resilient skin and robust health. It calms skin, reduces pigmentation and improves hydration—making it an invaluable star in the beauty universe. While you can find it in topical skincare, ingesting ashwagandha is the best way to reap its benefits, and both dermatologists and Ayurvedic doctors encourage maintaining a healthy gut to ensure you’re getting the most of its antioxidant properties. Ashwagandha supplements have also been proven to improve a person’s response to stress. 

2. Turmeric

After golden lattes, a marketable word for the humble haldi doodh, took over cafes and became a global talking point, turmeric is now being discovered for the shining beacon of anti-inflammatory goodness that it is. Whether you apply it or ingest it, turmeric is known to manage sensitivity and possibly even aid collagen production. Turmeric can now be found globally in masks that promise glowing skin (as turmeric reduces pigmentation), creams that fight rosacea (the yellow spice counters redness and inflammation), and even fragrance formulations. 

3. Bhringraj

Bhringraj, or the ‘king of herbs’, is another one finding its way in formulations across the globe for its hair growth and strengthening properties. In some clinical trials, its hair growth potential was compared with minoxidil (or Rogaine), the ultimate hair growth stimulator, and proved to be as effective, if not more. The herb is available both as an infusion in oils, and in powdered form to be mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the scalp. Besides being great for hair, it also acts as a stress reliever. Its cooling properties are so impactful that Ayurvedic doctors advise against leaving it on overnight to prevent one from catching a cold. It’s best applied warm and left on for 30 minutes before shampooing it off. 

4. Saffron

In a resurfacing mask, a perfume for the elite, or even a concealer – where has saffron not reached? The high-powered anti-inflammatory antioxidant heals skin, brightens it and strengthens the skin barrier. It’s a gentle ingredient with pretty powerful effects, and it helps that skincare products with saffron are infused with its delicious fragrance. Want glowing skin? Get a cream speckled with saffron strands. Want to stand out in a sea of gourmand fragrances? Spritz on a warm and herbaceous saffron scent. There are luxury skincare lines dedicated to just saffron and its ability to soothe both skin and mind. And, of course, there is saffron-infused tea—lush little cups of honeyed warmth that don’t just make you happy; they’re good for reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. Oh, and it makes you glow too. 

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