These 5 Indian brands are disrupting the personal care industry despite dominance of international products

The Indian personal care industry is seeing a continuous boom and there are many reasons for its growth. Though there is still a dominance of international products, the demand is slowly shifting towards home-grown brands. Here’s a list of five Indian brands disrupting the personal care industry.

The personal care industry is the fastest growing in India. According to the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Indian beauty and personal care (BPC) industry is estimated to be worth $8 billion. 


Categorised in five major sectors including body care, face care, handcare, haircare, and cosmetics, India's per capita spend on beauty and personal care is growing in line with India's GDP growth.


India is a populous country and there are various local brands catering to the mass audience. Though the demand is shifting towards home-grown brands, the dominance of the international brands is still observed. 


Thus, bringing a change in the Indian market trend, here are five Indian brands disrupting the personal care industry in the country. 

Nature’s Essence

Neelam Nanda, Founder, Nature's Essence

In the global market of cosmetic products, which is expected to reach a market value of $805.61 billion by 2023, it is interesting to see many smaller Indian brands thrive in the Indian market, despite the presence of giants like L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Revlon Inc, and more. 


India is the fastest-growing market for cosmetic products and is all set to explode to $20 billion by 2025. And, satiating this growing demand are scores of local brands that compete with the biggies in the market.  


Started from the dining table of Raj Kumar Nanda and his wife Neelam Nanda 20 years ago, Nature’s Essence is going places today. Last year, venture fund Samara Capital bought a majority stake in the Delhi-based company by investing Rs 200 crore in it.


Recalling the early years when she and her husband started the business, Neelam tells SMBStory that she did not know a thing about marketing.

However, she says she picked one aspect of marketing and that was keeping a stall at exhibitions. She remembers starting out with a stall space of nine meters, “and we then came to a stage where we took 200-sq meters,” she adds.  

Besides continuing to sell through various exhibitions across the country, Nature’s Essence products are sold in over two lakh retail outlets and 40,000 salons through a tight network of distributors. Nature’s Essence manufactures face care products, including facial kits, face washes, creams, gels, and lotions.

According to the company statement, it generates sales of Rs 150 crore and is growing at 15 percent per annum. At present, the company has four manufacturing units and employs around 1,500 people. 

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Bare Anatomy 

Rohit Chawla, Co-founder, Bare Anatomy

After exiting as one of the co-founders of The Man Company, Rohit Chawla’s visionary plan to launch a haircare brand that aligned with people’s needs saw him scale. 


In an exclusive interaction with SMBStory, he shares his journey.  


“While building The Man Company, I gained enough experience in the personal care market. It was surprising to observe that (after) all these years, we have been using common products despite them not being suitable for us; especially shampoos and conditioners,” says second-time startup entrepreneur Rohit Chawla.  


As each person’s skin varies, so does the hair profile. So, to cater to people with a customised haircare solution corresponding to their hair type, texture, and environment, Rohit struck upon an ingenious idea - Bare Anatomy.


Bare Anatomy is a beauty-tech startup that believes personalisation is the future of the beauty industry. With advanced science technology, Bare Anatomy’s scientists analyse the unique hair profile of every customer and formulate the most advanced and effective products (infused with botanical extracts), for every individual’s specific requirements.  


Launched in 2018 with a range of personalised hair care, the brand currently offers shampoos, conditioners, hair oils, hair serums, and hair masks. The starting range of the shampoo is Rs 750.  


To order products, customers must take a small quiz on a website that asks questions related to hair profile and preferences. One can pick the hair goals they want to achieve, pick the colour and fragrance of products, so much so, that customers even get to put their names on their bottles.  


Bare Anatomy is backed with a vision to revolutionise the personal care and beauty sector through customised products curated uniquely for each individual as per their needs and requirements. The data-driven company offers natural, vegan, and cruelty-free products freshly prepared.


In the span of nine months, we have seen a 10X growth hitting 20,000 customers. 


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Sacred Salts

Chhavi Singh, Founder, Sacred Salts

The ancient healing ways of Ayurveda, with wisdom passed down thousands of years, are not just used to treat diseases and ailments. The system of ancient medicine is also finding much uptake in the skincare industry due to the natural properties of its ingredients. In recent years, beauty-conscious consumers are rejecting the chemical-laden skincare products for Ayurvedic alternatives. 


Brands like Kama Ayurveda, Khadi, Forest Essentials, and more are dominating the Indian organic and Ayurvedic skincare industry. And, stepping into this diverse and competitive market is Chhavi Singh, who founded premium skincare brand Sacred Salts in 2018 in Gurugram. 


In an interaction with SMBStory, the 32-year-old entrepreneur explains her reasons for starting up in the space.  


“I personally wanted to step into the Ayurvedic skincare industry. Though the industry is already brimming with many organic brands, I felt that I can add more value to the skincare segment, understanding the demand of the consumers, and delivering authentic products,” Chhavi says. 


Sacred Salts was launched to bring lesser-known skin elixirs to the fore through products that are rich in nutrients and high on luxury. It all started when Chhavi travelled across the length and breadth of India, exploring the heritage of Ayurveda. She wanted to ensure these sacred recipes of India reach and benefit everyone. 


The products are made at a third-party manufacturing unit in Gurugram and all the Ayurvedic ingredients and essential oils are purchased from Uttarakhand.


At present, the brand manufactures a total of 50 SKUs including skincare products and beauty and bath accessories. Sacred Salts is also a pioneer in launching milk facewash and scrub in India, and in just a year, it has recorded an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore.


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Pradeep Cholayil, Managing Director, Medimix

Long before organic soaps flooded the market, synthetic skin cleansers held a supreme place in the Indian consumer household. Many personal care brands inveigled the customers with their advertisements, putting forward chemicals and SLS-based products.    


However, about 50 years ago, when technology was up-and-coming and there was apprehension for Ayurveda, Medimix was born.    


The birth of Medimix dates back to the time when the Cholayil family used viprathi oil as a cure for skin ailments. The year 1969 proved pivotal to the family legacy, as Late VP Sidhan combined a timeless tradition with his sharp business acumen, to develop a green bar soap that could both nourish and protect the skin. 


Medimix saw the light of the day in Sidhan’s kitchen, who worked as an allopathic doctor for the Indian Railways during that period. His profession meant treating sanitation workers who repeatedly suffered from multiple skin problems and weren’t regular with the prescribed treatment. Coming from a lineage of skilled Ayurvedic practitioners, Sidhan decided to find a solution in Ayurveda for these problems and invented a concoction of 18 herbs and natural oils, using which, Medimix was produced.   


Strongly rooted in Ayurveda, this amalgamation of 18 herbs and natural oils continues to become a sought after brand.    


This legacy, rich with nature’s secrets and preserving the ethos of time-tested study, has been carefully handed down through generations and has resulted in the development of various products and remedies that have the potency to heal the natural way. 


Today, 50 years down the lane, Medimix has become one of the leading Ayurvedic brands in the personal care space, growing on the back of quality products, and raising no investments so far.    


The company records a turnover of more than Rs 200 crore and offers personal care products in soap, face wash, body wash, moisturiser, shampoo, and hygiene wash, and is looking at expanding the range into new categories.   


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Rajat Jain and Mohit Jain, Founders, Kimirica

Remember the tiny soaps and shower gels you used when you stayed at a Marriott, Hilton, or Sheraton hotel? It is most likely that these hotel toiletries were manufactured by Kimirica Hunter, an Indore-based startup. 


But, when brothers Rajat Jain (34) and Mohit Jain (31) launched the company in 2013, they were working out of a small, 100-sqft room. The duo also had bad debts and faced a huge cash crunch. Little did they know that Kimirica would overcome these insurmountable odds to become India’s largest manufacturer of luxury hotel toiletries and guest room amenities.


Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mohit was writing his dissertation about launching a contemporary herbal skincare brand in India. With Rajat’s background in pharmacy and the family’s Ayurvedic business, the brothers were pretty confident that they could manufacture herbal skincare products on their own. 


“Initially, everything seemed easy. But after 10 months of rigorous research, we realised that launching on retail platforms would require products with varied formulations for specific skin and hair problems,” says Rajat Jain, Co-Founder, and Managing Director, Kimirica Hunter. “We also needed a lot of time and huge funds for marketing. Due to lack of funds, we were exploring a channel where we could start with some small steps,” he says. 


“While brainstorming, we remembered staying at a hotel. The miniature amenity bottles we had used stuck in our minds, and then we were immediately inspired to get into this game," Rajat adds. 


The brothers started examining the market. While conducting their research, they observed that more than 70 percent of hotel amenity products for international hotel brands were imported. 


“Hotels always knew that with imports, there are a lot of challenges. These are fluctuating currency, clearance hassles, import duties, and minimum inventory orders, but hotels were helpless with respect to brand compliance and also dissatisfied with the diversity in local offerings,” Rajat says. 


Further, hotels and resorts were unique, with different themes and special ambiences, the brothers found. But, they observed that monotonous and conventional brand offerings were made for all hotels. 


Thus, there was a clear institutional void. The budding entrepreneurs told themselves that they’d fill this gap by custom-making hotel amenity products locally and selling them to hotel chains. 


Kimirica Hunter is now worth Rs 300 crore and records a turnover of around Rs 90 crore. It also serves a large number of international hotel chains such as Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Jumeirah, Hyatt, Sofitel, Pullman, and an array of independent luxury hotels. 


In 2017, Kimirica also signed a joint venture with Canadian hospitality product manufacturer Hunter Amenities, from where it gets its complete name ‘Kimirica Hunter.’ 


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(Edited by Suman Singh)