Glam up with these five eco-friendly cosmetics brands run by women

In step with increasing consumer awareness, five women entrepreneurs are making cosmetics that are organic, cruelty-free, and take into account different Indian skin types.

India is part of the Asia-Pacific region, the fastest growing market for the cosmetics industry. With increasing focus on sustainability, consumer preferences are shifting sharply towards the organic market. 

The domestic cosmetics market is growing rapidly and moving towards organic products. One out of four consumers would prefer an eco-friendly skincare brand, according to research done by We Are Social.

(From L to R clockwise) Sabrina Suhail, Founder of Tinge; Karishma Kewalramani, Founder of FAE; Sonia Sahni, Founder of Ethiko; Vedika Sharma, Founder of Mantra Herbal; Tsara Cosmetics by Tanisha Varalwar

The global market for natural and organic cosmetics and personal care is expected to reach $42.3 billion next year and $54.5 billion in 2027 from $34.5 billion in 2018. 

In step with increasing consumer awareness, five women entrepreneurs are making cosmetics catering to this rising demand. 

Tsara Cosmetics by Tanisha Varalwar

Tsara Cosmetics is focused on homegrown and organic cosmetics. Founder Tanisha has been passionate about makeup and started Tsara with the aim that it would resonate with millennials and Gen Z. 

“I realised that while the younger generation was interested in makeup, there were very few brands providing clean alternatives for colour cosmetics,” she tells HerStory in an interview. “I wanted to introduce a homegrown and organic cosmetics line to suit all Indian skin tones.” 

The bootstrapped startup has a range of 10 lip shades and expects to release several other products by the end of 2021. In less than seven months, Tsara has established a loyal customer base of over 500 and garnered more than 11,700 followers on Instagram. 

The cosmetics line operates on a business-to-customer model and is available on several ecommerce platforms. 

Ethiko by Sonia Sahni

Sonia Sahni was studying in Spain when she experienced a skin problem. Tired of using doctors’ prescribed steroids, she began to study organic skincare formulation in 2017. 

Subsequently, she started making and using her own serums. The results were so evident that friends and family started to ask her about the products she was using. They began ordering and using her products, and that marked the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey. 

After returning to India, she noticed the lack of quality night skincare products in the market. This birthed the idea of Ethiko, which specialises in night skincare products. 

“Our skin heals at night and that is when it needs good quality skincare products that can deliver ‘skin food’ deep into its layers,” Sonia says. “While most brands have different products for different skin types, they offer just one ‘night cream’ to suit all skin types. Hence, users are not completely satisfied with the product, as it is generic and does not work for their skin type. This is the problem that Ethiko addresses.” 

The process to set up Ethiko started in January 2019, and the company was incorporated in August 2019 with a team of three. 

The startup incorporates traditional Indian and Egyptian methods in its products to facilitate the healing process. The products are PETA-certified, cruelty-free, and do not contain chemical preservatives. All formulations are effective and anhydrous (containing no water).

FAE by Karishma Kewalramani 

FAE is an abbreviation for Fair and Equal Beauty. Karishma says that preconceived notions of beauty need to be challenged and, instead, a fair representation of every skin type, texture, and tone should be made. With the launch of her vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics line, Karishma aims to create a community where makeup works as a liberator, not an inhibitor. 


“We were still not doing a good enough job in terms of ensuring that every scale and every spectrum of skin tone, type, and texture was being represented in our beauty brands,” she says. “Not only represented, but also catered to in an affordable way.” 

She calls her brand’s way of approaching beauty as “democratic beauty”, in which all skin types, colours, and people are fairly represented. Right from products to advertising campaigns, the brand is representative of all. Instead of models, it uses regular people in its advertisements. The brand doesn’t photoshop images or use lighting effects to portray any unreal beauty standards. 

“In our campaigns, we have a gender-fluid person; we also did a campaign with drag queens for Pride,” she says.

The brand has colour-adapting lipsticks that can be used as a blush and eye shadow. With the help of a research and development specialist, it has created five lipsticks that are 100 percent vegan, paraben-free, and cruelty-free. 

Tinge by Sabrina Suhail

Around seven years ago, Sabrina Suhail, a makeup artist, was taken aback when a client asked her if any of the products contained ingredients derived from animals. 

Sabrina, who was always prepared for any question, started thinking about it. That incident led to the birth of Tinge. 

“When I looked in-depth into the ingredients, I realised that brands use chemical names, which people believe are just a chemical and don’t know that it is extracted from a certain animal,” she tells HerStory. “It was quite shocking to me as to why they would use animal products when plants can make good ingredients too.” 

After having worked 15 years as a makeup artist, Sabrina, started Tinge in 2014. Her Bengaluru-based startup is now part of the natural and clean cosmetics market in India, which is expected to reach $834.5 million in 2021. 

The startup is known for its customised products and takes pride in conducting its business transparently. Customers can visit the store or the website and select their preferred colour and fragrance to customise the products. These are then altered in the presence of the customer. 

“Once their preferred formulation is sold, the remaining is discarded and the same product is not sold again,” says Sabrina. 

Mantra Herbal by Vedika Sharma

When Vedika Sharma was studying abroad for five years, she found that many of her foreign friends knew more about ayurveda than those back home. “That made me realise that I need to help millennials and the youth reconnect with their roots and get them interested in learning about ayurveda,” Vedika tells HerStory in an interview. 

Being from an ayurveda background, Vedika had a good understanding of it. A fourth generation entrepreneur of the family, she was keen on making clean and organic beauty products. 

She started Mantra Herbal to fulfil the dual aspects of appealing to a younger audience and promoting traditional practices of ayurveda.

Edited by Lena Saha


Updates from around the world