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Business of beauty: how the Indian cosmetic industry spurred the rise of startups like Nykaa

Business of beauty: how the Indian cosmetic industry spurred the rise of startups like Nykaa

Sugar is the new Lakme, Nykaa has become a better alternative to your brick-and-mortar neighbourhood store with limited stocks, and men’s grooming is no longer frowned upon. If there’s one industry that has truly been transformed by the waves of tech-induced changes brought about by newer generations and time, it is the cosmetics and cosmeceutical market in India.

Self-beautification dates back to the Indus Valley civilisation. There is evidence of both men and women, during this time, indulging in a slew of cosmetic concoctions for embellishing surface personality and also to accomplish merit (punya in Sanskrit) and happiness (anandam). Essentially, long before the millennials and Gen Z figured out that cosmetics could cure those mean Monday blues, the practice was already in motion. 

As ancient practices made way for modern usage, though, homegrown trends took over. Kajal or kohl pencils as we know it today, could be formulated at home with a simple aperture comprising a lamp and a metallic spoon (to collect the carbon particles). In fact, for most cosmetic and beauty-related ailment—from hairfall to pimples and acne—a simple combination of readily available kitchen ingredients could do the trick. No surprise then that cosmetics, in a country where its practice is rooted in science, have found a favourable market presence today.



Business of beauty: how the Indian cosmetic industry spurred the rise of startups like Nykaa

Sugar is the new Lakme, Nykaa has become a better alternative to your brick-and-mortar neighbourhood store with limited stocks, and men’s grooming is no longer frowned upon. If there’s one industry that has truly been transformed by the waves of tech-induced changes brought about by newer generations and time, it is the cosmetics and cosmeceutical market in India.

Self-beautification dates back to the Indus Valley civilisation. There is evidence of both men and women, during this time, indulging in a slew of cosmetic concoctions for embellishing surface personality and also to accomplish merit (punya in Sanskrit) and happiness (anandam). Essentially, long before the millennials and Gen Z figured out that cosmetics could cure those mean Monday blues, the practice was already in motion. 

As ancient practices made way for modern usage, though, homegrown trends took over. Kajal or kohl pencils as we know it today, could be formulated at home with a simple aperture comprising a lamp and a metallic spoon (to collect the carbon particles). In fact, for most cosmetic and beauty-related ailment—from hairfall to pimples and acne—a simple combination of readily available kitchen ingredients could do the trick. No surprise then that cosmetics, in a country where its practice is rooted in science, have found a favourable market presence today.

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