We unearth the beauty of Ayurveda, an age-old science filled with modern surprises

Bazaar India speaks to Vivek Sahni, Founder and Chairman of Kama Ayurveda, about what makes Ayurvedic products sustainable and efficacious.

Harper's Bazaar India

Look around for a solution, an answer and you will surely find it amidst nature. Over centuries, humans have managed to decode some of life's greatest mysteries, hidden in nature, and revealed its secrets through what we now know as Ayurveda. Today, it has become a science, a practice, that is relevant and necessary now more than ever. There are few things that take care of your mind and body as well as it does. 

Bazaar India Editor, Nandini Bhalla, in an exclusive interview, speaks to Vivek Sahni, Founder and Chairman of Kama Ayurveda about the homegrown luxury beauty brand's 20th anniversary, its journey so far, people's perception of Ayurveda and more.  

Nandini Bhalla: How did you come to fall in love with Ayurveda?

Vivek Sahni: Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest codified systems of medicine for overall well-being. What I love about it is that it is science that goes beyond treating diseases—it is based on the foundation of holistic wellness. Ayurveda also empowers us with a framework to understand the natural shifts in our bodies while offering day-to-day guidance to maintain balance among mind, body, and soul.

NB: We would love to know about Kama Ayurveda’s very first product...

VS: It took us two years to create our first product. Our aim was to address common skin and hair concerns. We introduced Kama with nine Ayurvedic formulations, out of which two continue to be bestsellers. These include our patented formulations: the Kumkumadi Thailam (for glowing skin) and Bringadi Thailam (for healthy hair).

NB: Tell us about the very first Kama store...
VS: We opened Kama Ayurveda’s first stand-alone store in Khan Market, New Delhi. Creating the space took a lot of thought, energy, and effort. We were involved in everything, right from designing the furniture to visual merchandising (props, creatives, other elements), the incense that would be burnt to the background music, and even the uniforms of the store staff—we looked into all of these touch points. The first store was critical for us...almost a transformational moment. It was the first time the consumer could see, feel, smell, and touch the products, and experience the brand and its story—all in one place.

NB: Tell us about some hero ingredients in Ayurveda...
VS: The essence of Ayurveda doesn’t adhere to one particular ingredient, but to an entire formulation. Ayurveda is about utilising the best of ingredients in an authentic manner. It may require a certain part of the component to meet specific conditions, such as an ingredient, in order to get the best efficacy. Bringadi Hair Oil, for instance, can only be made eight months in a year, because ingredients such as eclipta prostrata (bhringaraja), indigofera tinctoria (indigo), and cardiospermum halicacabum (ballon vine) are seasonal and can’t be procured during hotter seasons.

NB: How have people’s perceptions about Ayurveda changed over the years? 
VS: The way we seek information has changed due to social media. Today, the consumer is well informed and there is also a shift towards exploring organic and natural formulations. Two decades ago, Ayurveda was considered ‘herbal’ or ‘medicinal’, but today, that perception has changed. People now know that Ayurvedic products are efficacious, too.

NB: Tell us the story behind the beautiful packaging...
VS: Kama products are technically medicines, and we wanted to ensure that they look like contemporary versions of pharmaceutical products. We made sure the packaging looked raw and unadulterated. Our powder masks, for instance, come in stainless tins present in the kitchens of most Indian households. The understated packaging brings us back to our sense of purity and authenticity. However, there are separate design elements for Ayurveda-based formulations. The design, font, and colour scheme are different from the basic tins. We also use different illustrations and paintings created specially by artists. Lastly, we curate a set of prints that are later finalised for product packaging. 

NB: People think commercial beauty solutions, with scientific ingredients, are more efficacious. How one can make Ayurveda a global beauty alternative? 
VS: It is imperative to understand that most Ayurvedic products tap into the Earth’s ancient secrets. That is why they have stood the test of time. The best way to highlight and share detailed information around the various benefits Ayurveda offers is to physically test it.

NB: Lastly, which are your favourite Kama products? 
VS: My favourites include Amarrupa Wrinkle Repair & Firming Face Oil, Pure Vetiver Water, and Kumkumadi Rejuvenating & Brightening Night Cream. I also like the Rose & Jasmine Face Wash, which I use religiously to cleanse and shave my face. These products are a part of my daily skincare routine.