When you initially started, what were the things you kept in mind or focused on?
I opened my first herbal salon in a small scale, at my home. I also introduced a totally new concept of herbal care and cure. I devised my own treatments and started formulating my own products, based on Ayurveda. I had to increase awareness of the healing powers of herbs and the dangers of chemical and synthetic ingredients. I did this by contributing articles in leading newspapers and magazines. Very early in my career, I also made it a point to reply personally to letters seeking solutions for skin and hair problems. Four decades later, I still maintain this practice, this personal touch. In my regular columns, I provide home remedies as solutions for beauty problems. In the minds of the readers, this reinforces my philosophy that ‘nature is the best cosmetologist’. My philosophy and faith in nature have not only influenced markets and minds, but have become an integral part of the brand image.
Who has been your constant support?
My father and my husband have been my support. When I started my business, my father taught me to have faith in my own abilities. When I opened my first herbal clinic in my own home, it was my father from whom I borrowed 35,000 rupees. Behind my success lies my father’s faith that I would succeed. He was a constant source of support. Also my husband’s encouragement, support and understanding have made me what I am today.
What do you think of artificial beauty trends?
Synthetic cosmetics and chemical ingredients have been known to cause allergic and irritative reactions. They can also cause a build-up of toxins in the system, over a period of time. Synthetic and chemical ingredients in cosmetic preparations disrupt the normal balances and undermine the natural functions of the skin and scalp. In fact, when the normal pH (acid-alkaline) balance is disturbed, it results in skin and hair problems. The human body responds well to natural ingredients, but has a resistance to synthetic ones. So, our regular skin and hair care routine should be such that helps to restore the acid-alkaline balance and improve the skin’s normal functions. This is possible through herbal ingredients.
Please talk about some 2019 beauty trends.
The trend continues to move towards the natural look, with a non-shiny, sheer skin texture. For foundations, go for matte ones. A flawless finish will be in vogue. Glowing skin, created with highlighters is in. Leave out the glitter where highlighting is concerned, but use the highlighter on the high points of the face, like cheekbones, brow bones. Go for a neutral and natural blush, to emphasise the highlighted areas of the face. Dramatic red for lipsticks will be very much the trend. For the day, go for reddish shades that move towards pink, or try fuschia, or coral red. Models are wearing chocolate brown and nude shades too, especially for summer. Black lined eyes continue to be in and so is liquid eyeliner. Long hair has been the trend, with cascading waves and curls in the lower half of the hair. But now, pin straight hair is coming back. It’s a retro look, with straight hair and a middle parting. The classic ponytail has been dictating trends for some time now. One can have a ponytail for a formal or an informal look. Braids are also going to be in. Putting the hair up will also be in vogue, specially for summer. Long hair may be put up too, in a casual knot or braided styles.
What do you think about beauty bloggers?
The internet is now ensuring that we have all the information we need on our fingertips. Trends keep changing where beauty and fashion are concerned. New techniques and new products are also introduced. Blogging helps provide information and also different views. One can also find the tips on different aspects of beauty, including those that are suitable for India and Indian skin tones. All kinds of information on beauty are provided by bloggers, from home remedies to advanced treatments. Information and different ideas are most welcome.
A beauty myth people have to stop believing?
There are several beauty myths that need to be busted, but the most important one is that there is no ‘look’ that is universal. There is no standard of beauty or beauty ideal that suits all. Beauty needs to be redefined according to individual needs, skin colour and influenced by social and cultural factors. Above all, one needs to build a healthy habits, healthy diet, exercise and relaxation into the lifestyle.
Tell us about your products, why would you recommend them to people?
My products have grown out of clinical usage, based on massive client feedback, as an answer to precise and individual needs. Based on Ayurveda and the principle of ‘Care and Cure’, the Shahnaz Husain products consist of formulations for general care and also include highly specialised therapeutic products for specific skin and hair problems. The ingredients comprise of herb, flower and fruit extracts, essential oils and other natural substances. Apart from the legendary Shahnaz Herbal Range, there are ranges for precise needs, as well as those based on specific extracts. They are free from parabens, sulphates, mineral oil and synthetic colours. Today, the Shahnaz Husain Group is positioned as the brand leader in both the domestic and international markets in Ayurvedic beauty care. It is also ideally positioned in all market segments in India. In fact, after developing as the brand leader in the premium segment, today the brand has a commanding presence in the middle segment on the strength of brand identity.
What is your message for the young generation especially on retaining natural beauty?
Over centuries of usage, it has been seen that natural ingredients have many beneficial properties and actually help to enhance both health and beauty. An important advantage is that they have shown a lack of harmful side-effects. Herbs, in fact, have been used in Ayurvedic treatments to cleanse the skin of toxins and wastes. The assure safety from harmful effects. This safety factor cannot be ignored and makes herbs ideal for cosmetic care. Herbs also have powerful healing properties and many benefits for skin and hair care. In fact, they have definite protective, preventive and corrective actions. They also contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other valuable substances, which are imperative for the health of the skin and hair. Herbs help to improve the normal functions of the skin and scalp, including that of cell renewal.
Some basic tips for our readers
Fruits like banana, apple, papaya, avocado, oranges can be mixed together and applied as a face mask for all skin types. Papaya, rich in enzymes, cleanses the skin of dead cells and helps cell renewal. Banana tightens the skin. Apples and Oranges are rich in vitamins and minerals. Avocado is rich in antioxidants, hydrates the skin and has powerful age control benefits. Apply and wash off after 30 minutes.
Green Tea Skin Toner
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant. Take half cup water and 2 teaspoons green tea. Bring the water to a boil. Put tea leaves in a ceramic bowl. Pour the hot water over it and keep for 2 minutes. Strain and cool the liquid. Apply on face with cotton wool to tone the skin. Leave on.
The best body scrub is the age-old ‘ubtan’ made at home with wheat bran (choker), gram flour (besan), curd or cream of milk (malai) and a pinch of turmeric (haldi). All these can be mixed together and applied on the body, about 20 minutes before bathing. It helps to clear away the dead cells and make the skin clean, soft and smooth.
Henna Hair Pack for Dandruff
Henna packs help to add shine, body and bounce to the hair. For oily, dandruff prone hair, add 4 teaspoons each of lemon juice and coffee, 2 raw eggs and enough ‘tea water’ to the henna powder, mixing it into a thick paste.
You have carved a niche in the beauty industry, is there something you still wish to pursue?
Having taken Ayurvedic beauty care worldwide, I want to pursue my dream that it will lead the international cosmetic market.
Your alternate career choice
I have never had any alternate career choice. Beauty has not just been my career; it is the sole purpose of my existence.
One superpower you wish to have
The ability to eradicate poverty and all social ills
Favourite Bollywood actor
Dilip Kumar. He came to inaugurate our Men’s School and Salon in Delhi on my request.
Favourite leisure activity
Painting, writing poetry and listening to music.
The first thing you do in the morning and before sleeping
I thank God and convey my gratitude.
One thing you wish to do
To see India’s plant power lead the international cosmetic world.
Your philosophy of life
My philosophy of life has always been, ‘Do your best and leave the rest to the will of God’. This total surrender to the will of God helps me to stay grounded, no matter how high I may soar in the pursuit of success. Spirituality has nothing to do with success, name or fame. It goes far beyond that. It is an inner consciousness, an inner strength.