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An interview with Shilpi Jain of Skinveda

February 27, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 1 Comment

I was immediately struck by the sophistication of the Skinveda line - not something I would have expected by an Ayurvedic skincare line. You only have to use the products to become aware of the attention to detail - whether its a unique cellulite buster or a simple toner. When I talked to Skinveda's founder, Shilpi Jain, and learned about her impressive background as a formulator for some big name brands, it all fell into place. Find out about her journey from green-washing to creating an authentic skincare brand with integrity.

1. Let’s start from the beginning. How did you end up in the skin care industry?

As a daughter of a chemist and growing up with botanical herbs in our backyard and kitchen, I was naturally inclined towards DIY recipes with my mom whereby homemade masks with chickpea flour and turmeric with fresh sandalwood paste or freshly squeezed cucumber juice were just some of the skin foods my mom and I smothered on our face. I enjoyed this more than baking cookies. And I remember telling her that one day I will work for a cosmetic company and make my own skincare and hair care products. I always wanted to be a chemist. But destiny took me through several career changes from working as a biochemist with a French aesthetician in Toronto as a cosmetic chemist, to being a medicinal chemist with Arena Pharmaceuticals working on obesity drug synthesis and then working with some key cosmetic manufacturing firms in Dallas, Texas and being the principal formulator for well-known brands like Jack Black, Obagi, Image Skincare, Freeman Beauty, Elta MD, Joan Rivers, Forever Living and so on. I enjoyed being a hands on chemist and am grateful for the journey because being in the pharmaceutical industry and being introduced to Ayurveda from an early age all helped me in bringing Skinveda to fruition.

2. As a chemist, what have you found to be some of the beauty industry's greatest challenges?

Just like any industry, the beauty industry also presented challenges and coming from a chemist's background didn’t mean that you were treated with any more respect. I had to learn everything on the job and with the help of some mentors in the industry who really believed in me, I was able to prove myself. I think the greatest challenge for me while I was working with companies was to be a part of the green-washing movement where decisions were mostly made out of commerce and not to heal or beautify the skin. I was not going to let my ethics be subjected to staying silent. But some battles you just can’t fight as they affect your health and let you down, incapacitate you to function and it affects the people around you. So, learn to let go if it is not going to affect you in a big way. Life goes on but one should not give up. In 2011, I took the brave decision to quit my job and create my own skincare line that carried the values I hold so strongly: less is more, performance- based skincare that is safe, completely free of harsh chemicals without compromising the benefits and tailored to your lifestyle.  There have been failures and road blocks which are a part of being in business.  In the words of J.K. Rowling “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

 3. What motivated you to start Skinveda?

My inspiration to start Skinveda started back in 2004 when my son was a year old and he developed eczema. I refused to use the standard occlusive and decided to formulate a serum for him that treated his dry itchy skin but free of side effects. The replenishing serum was born! It was so effective that his skin healed within a few days of application. That was a turning point for me. But it took 7 years until I finally quit my corporate job to start Skinveda from the comfort of my laundry room.

4. Why do you believe in bringing in Ayurvedic principles to skincare?

Most of the time, we look at skin as being either oily, dry, combination or sensitive. But we often overlook skin is the primary interface between the external and internal environment. Skin being the largest organ acts like a sponge and is able to absorb anything within 26 seconds. Stress due to modern day living, multitasking lifestyle with constant exposure to both environmental and emotional stress plays a havoc on our skin – and is often neglected. The implications of stress on our skin are different for each individual just like our DNA.  Ayurveda – the Science of life – is a 5000 year old and the oldest medical system known. Ayurveda philosophy is based on the principals of understanding our unique mind-body imbalances due to our lifestyle. According to Ayurveda, we are all composed of five elements that are present in all living beings (water, earth, fire, air and ether(or space)) which combine in different ratios to give three distinct mind-body profiles or doshas.  These doshas are continuously influenced by our thoughts, emotions and lifestyle as well as environment we live in and undergo imbalances. With the help of an algorithm that calculates your current mind-body imbalances (or vikriti), I was able to incorporate the psycho-dermatological aspect of skincare through the principals and philosophy of Ayurveda. Ayurveda truly embraces self-care which is a huge aspect to longevity and using time tested herbs that have all the essential minerals, vitamins and compounds that are synthetically used in skincare brands. They are free of side effects if incorporated properly by an expert scientist with complete knowledge of Ayurveda and chemistry of these compounds.

 5. How does this guide the way you formulate the line?

By knowing the imbalances due to your modern day lifestyle, I can determine your dosha imbalances that affect your skin and which herbs, extracts, and oils will be best to reduce the stress manifestations and skin issues resulting due to that. Adaptogens are a big part of Skinveda skincare.  My guiding principles when formulating each product are how to harness the time tested stress modulators and anti-inflammatories that are the reason for all skin problems be it acne, hyperpigmentation, dull complexion, wrinkles, dry skin, sensitive skin and dehydrated skin as well as cellulite.

6. What are some of the key challenges in making your products and how do you overcome them?

I am always intrigued by the challenges that face me when formulating my products.  It may be difficult ingredients that will not solubilize into the solvent or delivery of large compounds into the skin matrix and sometimes just trying to get the product to have a commercial appeal with packaging and branding. Not everything appeals to everyone. I wish I could get more people to try my product line as it truly is a complete 360 degree view of your skin – from your lifestyle, stress and is safe on all levels – being gluten free, vegan and cruelty free.

7. What is your favorite Skinveda product?

That is a very hard question. But if I have to pick one – then I will pick the Replenishing Serum. This serum is multi-tasking and my go to product as it doubles up as a moisturizer, antioxidant serum, helps increase micro-circulation,helps with post-facial/threading redness and sensitivity and the best part it makes my skin look firmer!

8. Anything new in the pipeline for the line?

We are going to be launching Men’s line and a make up line in the near future. So stay tuned!

  • March 9, 2018

    by Andrea

    Very much look forward to trying this line once I use up what I have. I've admired the Ayurvedic approach to health and the fact she also has a chemistry background is a great plus.

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