Beauty expert Shahnaz Husain believes nature is the best chemist and cosmetologist.

At a time when Ayurveda was being referred to in the context of medicine, holistic healing and Indian culture, one woman gave it a global makeover by advocating it for its aesthetic enhancement powers.

Since the launch of her eponymous brand in the 1970s, Shahnaz Husain has become synonymous with herbal beauty products. Known as much for her entrepreneurial skill as her products, this founder-managing director-chairperson of the Shahnaz Husain Group is still a force to reckon with.

Shahnaz shares the whys and hows of her products and their ingredients, which she promotes as ‘3000 years of culture in a jar'.

Why Ayurveda?

“During my training in London in cosmetic chemistry, I came across instances of damage caused by chemical treatments. In a way, these tragic incidents changed the course of my life and career. I was determined to find a natural alternative. My study of Ayurveda convinced me that it could provide the ideal alternative. So, I returned to my roots and started my first herbal salon in my own home in 1971 based on the Ayurvedic system and adopted the principle of ‘Care and Cure'.”

Interestingly, according to her, Indians have not learnt the concept of ‘care and cure' but make do with ‘colour and cover'. Perhaps this also explains why her brand is popular abroad as well; it offers permanent solutions not temporary cover ups.

“An entire range of beauty products exists in Nature. Some are powerful cleansers, while others moisturise the skin. Some improve blood circulation, while others tighten the skin. By and large, they have preserving, preventive and rejuvenating powers. Centuries of usage have also shown that the human body responds well to natural ingredients, while it has an in-built resistance towards synthetic ones. I would say that Nature is the best chemist and cosmetologist.”

And this cosmetologist pitched in with ingredients for over “350 exclusive products in over 20 distinct categories for skin, hair and body care”, says the company website. Now that's how niche nature can get with a little help from the Ayurvedic texts and physicians Shahnaz employs in her R&D.

After making news for her gold and diamond products, Shahnaz's latest breakthrough is the Plant Stem Cells products. This range contains plant stem cells that “have the ability to regenerate new skins cells, repair damaged ones and thus reduce ageing signs. The products contain active molecules from plants that help rebuild collagen and elastic, the supportive tissues of the skin, thus making the skin look younger, firmer and smoother.”

Face behind the brand

“Unknowingly, while spreading Ayurvedic beauty care around the world, a brand was born. Ours became an image-based business. What is truly unique is that ‘Shahnaz Husain' is not a faceless brand name or corporate. The image that is foremost in the mind of clients and consumers is that of a real, answerable person, who is herself trained in cosmetology and cosmetic therapy.”

Herbal queen, Beauty Expert, princess (her lineage)…call her what you will but ‘India's Beauty Ambassador' is the title that she prefers. “Since I have dedicated my life and career to promoting Brand India and Ayurveda, with a crusader's zeal, this seems apt.” There's no denying that.

Skin care routine

One thing I am regular about is my daily facial mask.

It is the same one mixed for clients in our salons. It is ready for use in the refrigerator.

I am very particular about daily skin care.

I faithfully follow a daily routine of cleansing, toning, moisturising and nourishing using my own products, because I am sure of the ingredients.

The making of brand Shahnaz

I keep my evening programme in mind when I choose my outfit in the morning because I know that I may not get time to change.I also check if there is a television shoot planned that day.

I am very particular about matching my clothes with handbags, shoes and scarves.

I have designed special trays for accessories so that it is easy to select what I need.

When I am pressed for time, I just change the accessories for the evening. I think accessories can make all the difference to an outfit.