India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
May 18, 2017

Meet This Healthy makeup brand and The Woman Behind It

Text by Wyanet Vaz

Rubeina Karachiwalla, founder of Ruby’s Organics, talks to us about the making of her brand, struggles of a first-time entrepreneur, and the idea of healthy cosmetics

India’s beauty, cosmetic and grooming market is currently valued at 6.5 billion dollars and is estimated to reach 20 billion by 2025. The industry is ever-expanding with international and homegrown brands launching innovative products almost every day. While we may be spoilt for choice, it is also important to regularly evaluate the cosmetics we use, and consider swapping out the chemicals for something that’s a little more eco-minded.

Looking for natural makeup is tricky. Purely because colour cosmetics have a water base and can be only preserved using artificial ingredients. 28-year-old Rubeina Karachiwalla gave up her full-time job in public relations because she wanted to challenge this system, and change the way we look at beauty products in India. With the help of a research and development team in the UK, she launched her self-financed colour cosmetics label Ruby’s Organics that falls in line with ‘intelligent beauty’. Beyond being natural, her limited line of lip colours, eyeshadows, lip balms, highlighters, bronzers and cheek tints are user-friendly and suit Indian skin tones. Textures are smooth, the coverage is great and each product can be put to multiple uses.

Why did you start Ruby’s Organics?
I’ve always been fascinated with the beauty industry but wondered if it would be possible to create healthy cosmetics. I started experimenting in the kitchen by making products with my coffee grinder and was convinced that it’s not an impossible task. Taking inspiration from some brands in America and Europe, I was able to formulate an organic and natural range of makeup products that have all the usual synthetic suspects, substituted with natural ingredients and they do literally the same job. It’s just more difficult and expensive to procure, which is why big multinational brands (struggling in the market for price competition) can’t really afford to do that.

Can you tell us about the products?
The lipstick and concealers are a combination of seed butters, beeswax, oils, and pigments. They hydrate and heal your skin from within. Considering their base ingredient is oil, they don’t feel or appear oily. Your skin absorbs the oil within seconds, giving you just the right coverage. The eyeshadows are loose, not pressed because we haven’t used alcohol to bind them together. They are made from natural minerals and pigmented with micas, allowing for breathable makeup.

What sets it apart from others in the beauty market?
We offer the consumer healthy makeup and go by the term ‘value-added skin-care’. Our ingredients (like almond, avocado, jojoba oil, shea, cocoa, mango butter, beeswax and kaolin clay) are rich in healing properties, so they care and tend to your skin, while still working as makeup.

What is the motive behind your brand?
We are one of the few entities trying to create a market that supports ‘real beauty’. Beauty shelves are cluttered with multiple brands that are encouraging women to put more makeup to drive more sales. We actually care about the ingredients we use, the products we make and the message we deliver. It’s not about the rat race for us, we just want to give you access to a better choice, that’s all.

How did you go about creating the formulas? What were the ingredients used instead of chemicals?
The preservatives in all our products are Eco-Certified. The most important step was to eliminate the water content. Water requires more chemical preservation, whereas oil has its own natural preservation system. We replaced it with natural oils and vegetable glycerine. Instead of using petroleum-based wax or crystalline wax, we use beeswax and carnauba wax.  Silica was replaced with kaolin clay and talc (nano-free), and instead of artificial dyes, we used iron oxide and mica. Also, to cater to vegans we don’t use the pigment carmine which is essentially derived from crushing beetle shells.

As an entrepreneur in the beauty industry, what were the challenges you faced?
In the first few years, with every five steps forward I ended up taking ten steps backward. I was a 26-year-old entrepreneur with no references, so no one took me very seriously. It was tough trying to communicate with local vendors from small towns making them understand what organic means. Some of the manufacturers laughed at me saying, “There is no way anyone can make organic makeup products like this”. Eventually, I found the right support system and made my way through trial and error. I got all my friends to help me pro-bono and simultaneously saved up. Luckily by best friend is a graphic designer, so if it wasn’t for her the packaging wouldn’t look as good as it does today.

On working with the women in Umbergaon, Gujarat…
Since these are products assembled by hand, our manufacturer in Umbergaon employs women from the village panchayat, giving them the opportunity to earn a living. I thought that this was an amazing platform for them, and it’s great that they are a part of our venture.

Tips to keep in mind while reading a product label?
If one is trying to be conscious of the products they use, try researching on the ingredients claimed on the packaging. It’s important to empower ourselves with the right information, so we can buy responsibly. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and it takes only 26 seconds for whatever we apply on it to enter our bloodstream.

What are some of the chemicals that are harmful to your skin?
Lead and arsenic are commonly found in makeup products, mostly because Indian ground water has a high lead content. They are never accounted for in the ingredient list but they are present in some of the raw ingredients used. Parabens, because they are known to mimic estrogen in the body and have been found in human breast tissue. Here are a few that are best avoided – Phthalates, Petroleum Jelly, Formaldehyde, PABA, Propylene Glycol, MEA, DEA and TEA, Phenoxyethanol, Dioxane.

What other beauty brands do you like?
RMS Beauty, W3ll people, Lush and Ilia Beauty. I swear by Forest Essentials and Himalaya products.

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