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Ayurveda's global takeover comes with some very modern surprises

The 3,000-year-old science is ‘new’ again.

Let’s start with what Ayurveda is not. Despite what your feed may tell you, it is not a trend, it is not a fad, and it is definitely not a novel idea. An ancient science, specifically the science of life—in Sanskrit, ‘ayur’ means life or vital power and ‘veda’ means science or knowledge—that’s been studied and practised in our culture for millennia. “Ayurveda is a holistic way of looking at life that is now being more widely recognised and practised in the Western world, especially in the beauty space,” says dermatologist Kiran Mian, DO. Some tenets: your outer beauty is a mirror for what’s going on internally, encouraging you to look deeper and treat an issue like a breakout or a rash, not just at the surface, but also at the root, where triggers like seasonal changes, diet, or just the constant stress of today’s world can create imbalances in your system. “When someone comes to me with acne, I’ll write them a prescription, but I’ll also help them adjust their daily habits to help reduce inflammation,” says Dr Kiran

But you don’t need to go to a derm to do some Ayurvedic exploration—we have an army of homegrown brands, based on their holistic principles. And traditional Ayurvedic herbs and plant-derived ingredients like turmeric, bakuchiol, gotu kola, rose water, and ashwagandha are blended with scientific ingredients to create efficacious formulations. While the Indian beauty market boasts many Ayurvedic brands, ranging from affordable to luxurious, it is booming globally as well. “I believe that Ayurvedic beauty is becoming more mainstream in the Western culture because we are starting to, through these times of global health crisis, return to nature for health, healing, and beauty,” says Ananta Ripa Ajmera, a yoga instructor, spiritual teacher, and adviser of Ayurveda. Wellness-focused beauty has been a thing for years now, of course, but the cultural component hasn’t been talked about as much, says Michelle Ranavat, Founder and CEO of Ranavat. “Now the two things are coming together—you are really getting the full picture.”

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How does this play out in your products? Balance. Turmeric, for example, is now being combined with retinol in topical medications to help temper retinol’s potentially irritating side effects. For those experiencing hair loss or hair thinning, Dr Kiran encourages patients to combine daily Rogaine with weekly or biweekly hair oiling. “Rogaine’s main ingredient, minoxidil, works to dilate blood vessels and stimulate blood flow to the scalp, and that’s essentially what hair oiling does with the massaging,” says Dr Kiran

Every expert Cosmo spoke to for this piece said they want to share Ayurveda with the world. The brands on these pages are inspired by different Ayurvedic philosophies and practices and can help with everything from acne to split ends. “I always try to make it clear: Ayurveda isn’t just for Indian people or people who grew up practising it,” says Michelle. “It is the same thing with these beauty secrets and products: they are meant Photographs: for everyone.”