Ayurveda, or the True Scent of Naturality
Image used for illustrative purposes only
As the west continues its exploration of natural, sustainable and holistic consumption, we witness a renewed interest in traditional healing practices. Rawya Catto, Founder of the fragrance consulting company – Scent Creatives puts the spotlight on ‘Ayurveda’, ‘the wisdom of life’, as the truest form of naturality in wellbeing rituals.
It was during my travels across South Asia that I first encountered the ancient and life-changing practice called Ayurveda. As I walked into the Ayurvedic centre, I was blown away by the calm aura of the place, the beauty of the green lotus flowers floating on the central water fountain, and the peaceful drifting of practitioners around me. Mostly, I remember being struck by the most unique smell I had ever encountered.
But first, for the non-initiated, what exactly is Ayurveda?
In the words of aromatherapy consultant Victoria H. Edwards, Ayurveda is the oldest system of medicine in the world. It combines knowledge of the body type, with the prescription of foods, herbs, massages with oils and herbal pastes, and the mysterious art of Shirodhara (this unique treatment consists of a hypnotic pouring of sesame oil infused with powerful botanicals and essential oils over the forehead).
Immersive scents are an integral part of the experience
In a fine fragrance creation, curated raw materials are masterfully blended by the Perfumer to create a harmonious scent. In an ayurvedic preparation, the power of natural herbs is harnessed for their benefits. The scent is a byproduct, and yet, the magic of the treatment cannot be complete without an accurate description of the various aromas we are exposed to.
Speaking with Dr Mini Suman, the head practitioner at Ayur Mandala centre, she tells us that an average ayurvedic preparation contains between 100 and 200 herbal extracts, giving us an insight into the complexity and facets of each of those preparations.
We are greeted by the milky woody smell of burnt Sandalwood incense. The nose is then teased by the unusual green facets of cypress and spruce essential oils, and in some treatments, cedarwood is a constant player, with its dry and “pencil-like” signature smell. Most botanicals are infused in coconut and sesame oils, with their respective thick and roasted nutty scents. What an explosion for the senses!
To the westernized nose, these aromas may come across as overwhelming. The unabashed scents are green, sharp, spicy, smokey, raw, and have a certain grit to them, making them the truest expression of naturality. Regular aficionados of Ayurveda come to anticipate, and even love these scents, as they induce an almost pavlovian effect of the anticipation of the healing to come.
Image for illustration purpose only.
Ayurveda, on our Shelves
Many brands have capitalized on the concept of Ayurvedic medicine to create lines or offerings integrally dedicated to the platform. India is the land of Ayurveda, and Indian brands are at the forefront of the offering. Forest Essentials and Kama Ayurveda are two brands that have been successful at creating a luxurious beauty positioning, around the know-how of plant botanicals.
Western brands are also jumping on the band-wagon, particularly in hair-care. Due to the influence of “curly haired” Youtubers who rave about Ayurvedic cleansing powders, Ayurvedic inspired ingredients and rituals are slowly finding their way into our grocery basket. OGX’s latest launch talks about the benefits of “Golden Turmeric” and ‘ Ancient Hindu Medicine’.
Cultivating the trend, capitalizing on the ‘Green Gold’ of India
Purists of Ayurveda may emit doubts as to the effectiveness of commercial products utilizing ayurvedic terminologies, potentially due to the absence of a regulatory framework surrounding these specific marketing claims. The essence of Ayurvedic medicine lies in the customization of treatments to body types, which is an inherent challenge for commercial brands.
Having said that, on the wide spectrum of Ayurvedic needs, there is a legitimate place for branching out towards off-the-shelf consumer products, across a variety of end-uses. Essential oil blends can reproduce the scented experience in the context of air fresheners. Ayurvedic formats, such as powders and pastes, can answer the needs for mild care for ethnic and curly hair. And bathing rituals can take full-on inspiration from the raw and natural aromas which are used in a professional context.
In capitalizing on the know-how and savoir-faire of herbs and plants of the Indian Subcontinent, there is an opportunity to bring true novelty and precision to the natural scent and beauty platforms.
Due to the demand for simplicity and botanical remedies driven by the current global context, creating the next success story will require speaking the right language, and conveying the associated emotional message through the perfect scent.
Ayurveda is naturality at its best. Its power can be harnessed to produce goods that spark inner-calm for communities across the board. An open door to trigger curiosity, and perhaps, a gateway for life- changing experiences.
Author : Rawya Catto
Rawya Catto is the Founder and Managing Director of Scent Creatives, a fragrance and branding consulting agency based in Dubai. With a combined experience of over 20 years in the perfume and consumer goods industry, the agency helps brands find their scented voices and create thefragranced success stories of tomorrow.
To know more visit https://www.scentcreatives.com/