You’ve got a lot on your plate. Work, home, children and social commitments could be getting the better of you. But self-care is equally important. A new beauty and wellness trend offers a favourable answer. It brings back the wholesome goodness of oils, with experts extolling its benefits. From headaches to sore muscles, from anxiety to sinusitis, from pigmentation to acne... oils have become a reliable vanity staple. Top brands recognise this and have been racing to create new formulations.
Demand meets supply
There’s a good reason for oils to come back into vogue. Whether harvested from the nut of the African marula fruit (marula oil), or an indigenous plant from North America (jojoba oil) or pressed from castor beans (Castor oil), nothing beats the restorative properties of a good quality oil.
It also offers convenience, something people prioritise today.
“Lengthy beauty or health regimes are outdated. Nobody has that kind of time now. Most of us are juggling between work deadlines, family responsibilities, and social engagements. Oils therapy offers an easy solution,” says Smitha Arora, an MNC executive from Gurugram.
Another thing that makes them great is their purity, something several brands today know the importance of. Consumers too are keen to know what’s gone into them. They ask questions and hold makers accountable. The new line of oils being launched today aren’t greasy, nor do they smell, like many of their older counterparts.
“The new variety has fast-absorbing properties, they provide deep hydration and act as a barrier against skin diseases.
Many of them are suit for all skin types and are multi-purpose too. You can use them as moisturisers as well as make-up removers and lip balms. Take some of the same oil and run it through the length of your hair to get rid of the frizz,” says Mumbai-based dermatologist Tanya Verma. Also, with summer approaching, rashes, pigmentation, sunburns, and dry and itchy skin will become common so keep a bottle of your favourite handy.
Oil therapy isn’t new to Indians. Before spas became ‘a thing’, getting a desi malish or abhyanga, was practised widely. Massages have been deeply ingrained into our ancient wellbeing traditions. The kind of oil used in each of these was central to the custom. Take, for instance, massages for new mothers with warm mustard oil with ajwain and garlic, which have been performed for eons. Babies are smothered with virgin coconut oil and given a good rub down till date. There are also ceremonial ones for the to-be-bride, the most common being with sesame oil with turmeric, gooseberry and Indian madder, known to infuse a sense of calm before the big day.
Mustard or coconut oil massages are a weekly ritual at akharas (wrestling pits) all over India. Each oil therapy ritual involves specific manipulation of muscles and joints, bringing about strength and vitality to the body. “Oils such as bergamot and tangerine from the citrus family, along with ginger, clove and cardamom extracts in certain oil concoctions, are said to cure doshas or energy systems, according to Ayurveda. “But here’s the good news: Because the procurement of pure ingredients and making them is a laborious task and the extraction process is long and cumbersome, modern brands such as Kama Ayurveda, Forest Essentials, SoulTree, JustHerbs, Pure Earth, Ras Luxury Oils, Juicy Chemistry and several others offer them today,” says Sanjana Arya, a Gurugram-based Ayurvedic practitioner.
Hyderabad-based image consultant Ratna Swamy swears by the healing properties of Vitamin C to treat melasma, a type of hyper pigmentation, she’s had for four years. The solution came in a little bottle. “I was told by my dermatologist to apply extracts of pomegranate that’s rich in antioxidants, along with Kakadu Plum, on the best sources of Vitamin C. It seemed almost impossible to source them. Then a friend informed me about Juicy Chemistry’s facial oil that had all of this and more,” says Verma.
The manufacturing of these beauty and health oils have become a lucrative business. Argan oil is among the most in demand, along with avocado oil and almond oil. “These oils are most commonly being purchased by people in the age group 20-40 and those looking to heal acne scars, sunburns, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, as well as for skin-brightening, lightening skin and improving texture,” says Verma.
Aman Gupta, a stock market analyst, has seen the benefits of therapeutic oils first-hand. As a chronic insomniac, he underwent 21-day intensive massage therapy at an Ayurvedic centre near his residence in Delhi. They would apply a mix of lavender oil (for its calming properties) with lime extracts (an anti-depressant), nutmeg (decreases anxiety), peppermint (revitalises the body) and sandalwood (for its cooling properties). “But once the sessions got over, I worried about how I would get the same purity for self-massages. Thankfully, a quick internet research threw up several options for similar oil concoctions and I picked up the Nidra and Shanti oils from Forest Essentials,” says Gupta.
When the Breathe Again launched its anti-stress oil with almond oil, jojoba, sesame, olive oil, sunflower oil and more, the first batch flew off the shelves within days. “Environment-friendly solutions like essential oils have become the holy grail of therapy and healing. When used daily, they’re known to reduce anxiety. One could try natural oils of orange peels, or lavender that stimulates the nervous system, triggering a positive emotional response,” says Aashka Goradia Goble, co-founder of Renee Cosmetics.
“Environment-friendly solutions like essential oils have become the holy grail of therapy and healing. Some of them are also being used to treat psychosomatic disorders.” Aashka Goradia Goble, Co-founder, Renee Cosmetics