Shahnaz Husain, the pioneer of organic beauty care, has achieved unprecedented international acclaim for her practical application of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of herbal healing. Just when there was a worldwide back to nature trend, Shahnaz Husain recaptured an ancient herbal system and made it relevant to modern demands. Almost four decades ago, she adopted the principle of Ayurveda, based on an integrated system of clinical treatments and product ranges. In fact, her career has been a constant search for a better alternative. Her study of Ayurveda, the Indian holistic system of herbal healing, strengthened her faith in nature, finding that it could offer the ideal answers to protective, preventive and even corrective cosmetic-care. Today, her name has become the brand and she is herself the brand ambassador. She heads the largest organization of its kind in the world, with a chain of over 400 franchise clinics, shops, schools and spas worldwide, as well as Ayurvedic formulations for skin, hair, body and health care. Her journey, from one herbal clinic to a worldwide chain, is one of unprecedented success.
Q. What is your perception about possible role of CSR eligible companies for promoting Ayurveda?
A. As far as the economy is concerned, cultural industries, like Ayurveda, also play an important role in the economy of developing nations, not only in terms of economic growth, but also to achieve social stability, generate employment, create wealth and also preserve culture. India is a country with a rich cultural heritage, with immense economic potential. In the present scenario of globalization, the challenge is to develop our cultural industries to compete in the international market. Vocational training and skill development in the beauty and wellness segment can help to generate employment for under-privileged women. We have seen the tremendous demand for the traditional Ayurvedic treatments. There has been a demand for traditional Ayurvedic treatments of Panchkarma, Dhara and Kerala massage, as well as Ayurvedic skin and hair care. In fact, such treatments are attracting foreign tourists to India, due to the worldwide interest in holistic and alternative healing systems. There is a growing global market for alternative medicine and herbal products and as such, Ayurvedic products have immense potential. This also includes essential oils, which are used in the related field of Aromatherapy.
Q. What has been your unique contribution to Ayurveda and beauty care?
A. When I started my career more than four decades ago, herbal beauty care did not exist. At that time, superficial beauty treatments and hairstyling were treats women went in for, without realizing that beauty is actually the outcome of long term care. No heed was paid to the health of the skin and hair and the potential dangers of chemical treatments. In fact, there was hardly any awareness of other detrimental effects on beauty, like exposure to UV rays, environmental pollutants, artificial heating and cooling, etc. I wanted to open the doors to Nature. I rejected the existing concept of beauty and adopted my own. I started devising my own treatments and formulating my own products, based on Ayurveda. I increased awareness of Ayurveda and natural beauty care through my articles, providing home remedies and spreading the idea that nature is the best chemist and cosmetologist. Today, I am known as the pioneer of herbal beauty care. In fact, there is no doubt that herbal beauty care in India is fashioned after the Shahnaz Husain innovations, products and treatments. There is also no doubt that it is herbal beauty care which has also driven the growth of the beauty industry in India over the last few decades. I have promoted beauty care through the aspect of cures, because it is the health of the skin and hair that is important for true beauty. By adopting a unique franchise system, I have taken Ayurvedic beauty care to every corner of the globe. I have drawn from the powerful healing properties of plant ingredients and natural substances. Apart from general beauty care, I also introduced clinical treatments and therapeutic products for the treatment of specific skin and hair problems. It is my approach to beauty that is responsible for our growth into the largest organization of its kind in the world, with a global network of franchise ventures and over 380 formulations for beauty care.
I have always believed that India has a great deal to offer the rest of the world in terms of Ayurvedic beauty care. That is why I have promoted brand India and Ayurveda with a crusaders zeal. We are seeing the growth of a whole new world of holistic beauty and health care. Today, the Shahnaz Husain brand name is the global face of Indian Ayurvedic beauty care. My dream is to see Ayurveda lead the international beauty industry within the coming decade.
Q. Which are the key CSR projects of your company and which one, you consider the FLAGSHIP project?
A. i) Shamute: Free vocational training courses for the speech & hearing impaired.
ii) Shasight: Free vocational training courses for the visually impaired.
iii) Government Skill Development Projects in Beauty & Wellness for underprivileged women.
Q. Any information, you would like to share with the readers of our magazine?
A. I have dedicated myself to empower the physically challenged with my free beauty training courses, Shamute and Shasight for the speech and hearing, and the visually challenged respectively. I have perpetually endeavored to empower the less privileged by providing them with opportunities to be financially independent and self-reliant. The teachers from the Shahnaz Husain Beauty Academy are specially trained to teach students who are physically challenged. I have also written a beauty book, which has been put into Braille. I have pledged to train the students in hand-made soap making and the label will mention that it has been made by the visually challenged. The proceeds will go towards their betterment. Another pertinent point that I need to share is my commitment to natural care and cure. As a policy, I have always believed in protecting the environment and not disturbing it in any way. In fact, I opened the windows of the world to nature, herbal beauty care and eco-friendly products. Eco-friendly products are those that do not lead to pollution or toxicity of the environment. We follow the Ayurvedic system and do not disturb the environment in any way through our manufacturing processes. Our products contain plant extracts and other natural substances, which are biodegradable, unlike synthetic substances. We do not allow animal testing and do not use animal products in our formulations. Our manufacturing processes do not use up valuable energy and do not emit green house gases and other pollutants. We also set up our herb and flower farm near Delhi, following methods of organic farming, using natural composts and fertilizers. This keeps the soil free of chemical pollutants. It also serves the greater purpose of preserving the environment. The need of the hour is to also contribute towards the cleanliness drive, started by Prime Minister Modi, on a personal and collective level. We should work towards increasing awareness about pollution and the need to maintain cleanliness both at home and outside. The urgent need is to decrease pollutants and achieve a clean country with healthy citizens.
Another important message that I wish to convey is how beauty empires have been pumping billions of dollars into a hysterically mad cosmetic industry. Ayurveda has found a prominent place in modern cosmetic care. Treatments that were lost in the mists of time have been revived and viewed in the light of modern scientific techniques. Today, along with the Indian philosophies of Yoga and Meditation, the holistic system of Ayurveda has also become popular worldwide. Herbal and natural extracts have been formulated into different products for skin, hair and body care, using the latest scientific techniques. Over centuries of usage, it has been seen that natural ingredients have many beneficial properties and actually help to enhance the beauty of the skin and hair. Another important advantage is that they have shown a lack of harmful side-effects. Synthetic preparations and chemical ingredients, on the other hand, can cause allergic and irritative reactions. They can also cause a build-up of toxins in the system, over a period of time. Herbs, in fact, have been used in Ayurvedic treatments to cleanse the skin of toxins and wastes. The 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. Thus they have the power to revitalize and rejuvenate.
Another important benefit of using herbs is that they help to restore the normal balances. The same goes for the scalp too. Some of these factors are chemical air pollutants, chlorinated water, alkaline soaps, make-up cosmetics and so on. 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 balance is disturbed, it results in skin and hair problems. So, our regular skin and hair care routine should be such that helps to restore the acid-alkaline balance and improve the skins normal functions. This is possible through herbal ingredients.