It's Everyone's Dream to Walk Down the Aisle...i.e. the Makeup Aisle

Beauty is self-love and lots of nourishment that your body needs in order to perform at its peak, says NutriGlow founder Ashish Aggarwal

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"A thing of beauty is a joy forever," wrote English poet John Keats in the early 19th century. Two hundred years later, a thing that enhances your beauty is an even greater joy! New cosmetics, hair and skin care brands are being launched every month, including popular celebrity-owned brands such as Rihanna's Fenty Beauty, Selena Gomez's Rare Beauty, and Kim Kardashian's latest Skkn by Kim, among others. As a result, the meaning of beauty is constantly evolving, with many companies foregrounding inclusivity and naturalness in its conception.

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"To us, beauty refers to the right nutrition for one's skin. We believe that a healthy skin is the best makeup you can wear," explains Ashish Aggarwal, who founded NutriGlow Cosmetics in 2011 to deliver 'affordable luxury' within the personal care segment.

Aggarwal recounts how until not too long ago, good-quality skincare products were only affordable to a select few elite consumer groups. Products that truly delivered on their promises burned a hole in the pockets of the middle class, thus remaining a faraway dream on a store shelf. The more affordable ones, he says, disappointed with their marketing gimmicks and shallow claims, thereby ensuring that the middle class never moved beyond home-based traditional skin and hair care.

"We wanted to introduce lab-tested scientific formulations that score high on safety and performance within the natural beauty landscape that India is known for. For us, affordable luxury is being able to buy the right product with guaranteed efficacy: one that does what it says, one that is as safe for you as it is for your daughter, and finally, one that you can easily invest in without having to exceed your budget," he states.

Over a decade ago, NutriGlow took its first steps in the digital realm, preceding many competitors in establishing an online presence on various major e-commerce platforms. The company claims to have done well in the offline market as well, with the bulk of its consumers being concentrated in North India. Having recently raised a fresh batch of funds from Bengaluru-based G.O.A.T Brand Labs, NutriGlow is now focusing aggressively on exports.

While cosmetics brands have indeed witnessed growth in the recent past, with their global market projected to reach $415.29 billion in 2028, they have equally been embroiled in controversies for promoting artificiality, colourism, greenwashing, consumerism, harmful chemicals, and gender stereotypes, among other charges. Perhaps one of the most infamous examples of beauty brands earning the ire of progressive consumers came in July 2020 when FMCG major Hindustan Unilever was forced to change the name—if not much else—of its flagship skin care brand Fair & Lovely to Glow & Lovely following significant backlash against its negative messaging about darker skin tones. What does the NutriGlow team think on the subject?

"Being the best version of oneself is what we consider to be beautiful. Beauty is self-love and lots of nourishment that your body needs in order to perform at its peak," responds Aggarwal, dismissing the idea that one's attractiveness is determined by their skincolor. The NutriGlow website, however, allows consumers to shop by category, one of which is 'Concern' that offers solutions for "skin whitening", "skin lightening" and "tan removal". While the company's stand on colourism is unclear, it maintains that its main aim is to solve day-to-day common problems like acne, sun and pollution damage, dry and dull skin, oily skin, clogged pores, and signs of ageing through potent ingredients like papaya, gold-kesar and red wine.

To provide these vital skincare solutions, NutriGlow claims to invest a lot of time and effort in product innovation and research. "We explore the science of skin, down to the last molecule, so our consumers don't have to. With us, there are no hollow promises and unsubstantiated claims," insists Aggarwal. He claims that every single product currently available on the company's shelves has passed months of rigorous testing, both clinically and in the lab, to ensure that the fulfilment of the highest standards. "Equipped with our in-house state-of-the-art laboratory, combined with strong R&D from experts all over the world, we ensure that all the formulations are also periodically reviewed and updated in sync with the latest advancement available," he adds.

Aggarwal believes that personal care is one of the fastest-growing segments in India's FMCG industry, which is now experiencing exponential proliferation due to people's increasing awareness of their demands and preferences. Does that imply that the market is already saturated? He thinks not and explains, "I believe there is still a great deal of room for innovation on all fronts. What sets NutriGlow apart from rival brands is the fact that we are solely focused on innovation around our pioneering natural ingredients, which are inspired by India, the birthplace of Ayurveda. As a result, our products are not marketing gimmicks but rather all about results."

In seeking to remain at the top of one's game in such a competitive industry as personal care, one is bound to encounter challenges. As per NutriGlow, not being able to afford to have even one product go wrong is one of the most crucial aspects of sustaining a brand image. "The primary issue, in my opinion, has always been to retain the same pricing point with our clients while still upholding the same standards of commitment and quality, especially in light of the recent sharp increases in the cost of everything, including raw materials and packaging especially post Covid-19," says Aggarwal.

Being honest with one's customers without overhyping the product is one piece of sage advice he sees fit to pass on to fellow entrepreneurs looking to enter the sector. "Especially in the age of social media, people know what they want and if we can just provide that, that's more than enough. You don't have to promise them the moon and stars. Just stay relevant by helping them overcome their skincare concerns with your products," he adds.