As Coco Chanel once said, “The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive.” While beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder, beauty treatments are getting more exclusive and expensive by the day. They have come a long way from secret ingredients from our grandmother’s kitchen shelves to more absurd and expensive ingredients. Now there’s talk of dermabrasions, vampire facials and chemical peels. From snail slime, pig placenta and bee venom to white caviar and 24-carat gold, the industry has experimented far and wide, in a chase to achieve the perfect skin and youthful appearance. Most of these come with a hefty price tag.
However, closer home, despite the price, expensive and elaborate beauty treatments have garnered quite a following in the past few years, with international beauty brands creating their niche in the Indian markets. As international brands enter India, from countries known for their beauty products such as Korea and France, such brands have begun expanding their services, offering premium beauty treatments as well. And not just international brands, premium Indian beauty brands have created a menu of luxury beauty treatments that cater to a multitude of skin problems and goals. Even as the Indian consumer becomes more informed, companies are going the extra mile to get a loyal customer base in an expanding market. Currently, the beauty industry stands at US$20 billion.
LuxeBook spoke to Vandini Gupta – Co-founder of Mary Cohr India, Dr Jamuna Pai – celebrity dermatologist and owner of SkinLab, and Bharat Sachdev, Director of Leader Medical Systems, a representation of iS Clincal in India, gaining insights aboutt the popularity of luxury beauty treatments in India.
Beauty and luxury
Beauty has always been a luxury since eons ago. In India, beauty treatments are not new, but have been informed by ayurvedic practices since ages. With innovation and technological developments, modern-day beauty treatments on average make quite a dent on the pocket. However, as the consumer becomes more aware, many have become ready to spend the extra buck on themselves on quality beauty that promises results.
Vandini Gupta believes that despite the variety and availability, skincare brands today hardly deliver results. And for a result-driven audience, spending money on a luxury product or treatment that delivers eventually seems worthwhile. “The important part about skincare is being able to see results. Luxury brands are result-oriented. Therefore, people are willing to spend their money on luxury skincare once they can see these results themselves.”
And Bharat Sachdev agrees. “A perfect blend of luxury and results, luxury beauty treatments hold true to the statement – ‘you get what you pay for’. But it’s not just about luxury. It is about quality. Luxury treatments are expensive because of the quality of the products, ingredients and methods used.”
Dr Jamuna Pai, however, credits the surge of information on the internet, to be a promoter of luxury skincare; that is in addition to the human desire to indulge given the restriction of the pandemic. “After staying indoors for almost two years because of the pandemic, people have become a little more relaxed about spending. And so, there is a demand for luxury beauty. People are now willing to spend more money than they did before, to indulge in such treatments,” Dr Pai concludes.
The influx of international beauty brands
International beauty brands have begun operating in India relatively recently. Gone are the days when one had to hoard one’s skincare from trips abroad. India has been drawing in international brands for years, but the number of new foreign launches over the past two years is incomparable. Through beauty-focused platforms like Nykaa, Sephora and Tata Cliq Luxury, the Indian beauty industry has expanded to accommodate more international beauty brands today, than it has over the many years.
A “well-developed” market is how Sachdev prefers to put it. “When we talk about international beauty brands in context of the Indian beauty industry – the market for luxury and premium brands in the makeup and cosmetic domain is well developed. The Indian consumer has lots of options in that space today,” he adds.
But with options comes the task of choosing the right one. The internet has been a boon for both customers and new brands entering the market, with direct-to-customer (D2C) brands playing an important role in this space, helping consumers make that informed decision for themselves, as well as giving new entrants a foot in the door.
“The beauty industry has boomed,” says Dr Pai. “With the internet, it is so easy to access information, to help users understand one’s own skin. This general awareness about healthy skin is what has led to the dawn of new brands!”
International beauty brands such as Mary Cohr and iS Clinical fit have managed to grow in the Indian market in the recent past. iS Clinical is a scientific-skincare brand that focuses on skincare for each skin type. “A scientifically advanced luxury line iS Clincal bridges the gap between science and beauty,” says Sachdev. “It is a pharmaceutical grade line made with botanically sourced ingredients. So, the products are not just effective but also gentle on the skin.”
Mary Cohr on the other hand, is based entirely of French beauty mantras that dictate specific treatments and products for very specific skin types and skin concerns etc. “Mary Cohr is based on the premise that every skin is different. And so the brand delivers exactly what one skin type needs, which is delivered only after a detailed consultation, covering all beauty concerns and goals,” says Gupta.
Mary Cohr’s signature facial, the CatioVital facial is an 8-9 step facial. It is done using the CatioVital machine which is patented by Mary Cohr. “The CatioVital facial is at the heart of French beauty; a very natural treatment that gives your skin exactly what it needs,” says Gupta of the signature beauty treatment.
It begins with a deep-rooted consultation, where every serum, cream and formulation used is selected solely based on the results of the consultation. The main process of the facial begins with a thermal mask. This is the French alternative to the popular steaming step done in salons in India. “French skincare does not believe in using steamers on the skin believing it to be very harsh,” adds Gupta.
The thermal mask activates the skin, opening sebaceous glands. This helps bring all the toxins to the surface. The first half of the facial consists of a deep cleaning, ridding the skin of all its toxins.
Post the deep cleanse, there is a step where ionization rods are used which help activate and stimulate the skin. These also help the active ingredients used in the procedure to penetrate deeper into the skin.
The third and final part of the facial focuses on rejuvenating the skin. This involves a relaxing massage using essential oils based on one’s skin type. “The massage is extremely relaxing and helps soothe and rejuvenate the skin, restoring its natural glow,” says Gupta. “The process is very gentle. There are no chemicals, no bleach, no steam used. And since it is thoroughly customised for each skin type, it can be given to anyone and everyone.”
iS Clinical, MIRApeel Facial
A non-ablative skin rejuvenation system, the MIRApeel facial comes straight from Germany. It is a comprehensive, transdermal delivery system that utilizes unique vacuum-aided exfoliation and micro-needling along with an infusion of serums that are said to drastically reduce skin troubles like aging, scarring, etc. “The MIRApeel facial helps to exfoliate, hydrate and rejuvenate all skin types with benefits of a light chemical peel, microdermabrasion — all in one facial treatment,” says Sachdev.
The MIRApeel facial works with a unique combination of five synergistic technologies: cupping, exfoliation, micro-needling, toning and LED light therapy.
The first step, cupping is an effective and relaxing method of delivering a face or body massage to relieve tension, improve circulation and for lymphatic drainage. The next step, exfoliation is done using a MIRAbrasor and an exfoliating serum. It not only exfoliates the surface of the skin, but also removes blackheads, whiteheads and other impurities from within the pores and deep skin layers.
Next, depending on the level of penetration in the skin, a MIRAroller is used to infuse a serum suiting one’s skin concern, into the skin in a non-invasive manner.
The next step is called Re-educating and Toning muscles with MIRAcurrent. During this step a gentle electrical energy is released into the skin to targets the muscles of the face. These stimulate the skin cells to increase collagen, elastin and protein levels in the treated areas for long lasting results.
Finally comes the LED Light Therapy, a very popular treatment in the west. “MIRApeel’s LED lamps have 3 different color options, 10 adjustable brightness settings, and 9 different light patterns which are used to complete and increase the effectiveness of each treatment,” says Sachdev.
One of the most advanced skin rejuvenation systems, the MIRApeel treatment is tailored as per the skin type and concern of the customer. It targets skin conditions like acne, pigmentation, uneven skin tone and texture, dry and dull skin, fine lines and wrinkles, etc.
SkinLab, Glass Gloss Facial
A medical grade facial treatment performed by SkinLab doctors, the Glass Gloss treatment aims to provide radiance and an instant glow to the skin.
The treatment begins with a micro-needling process using a vitamin C serum, followed by a luxurious gold mask. A final step in the treatment is LED phototherapy, which is personalized according to the client’s skin concerns.
“What makes our Glass Gloss Treatment stand out is the fact that it helps to achieve an instant glow. Micro-needling promotes collagen and regeneration of elastin which leads to skin that is firmer and rejuvenated. While this treatment is safe for pretty much anyone, people with acne should avoid getting it,” says Dr Pai.
Beauty treatments and daily skincare
While beauty treatments are all the rage, one often wonders if these are enough to maintain healthy skin. What about a daily skincare routine, would this alone be enough?
Dr Pai said that the approach to achieving healthy, youthful and glowing skin must be “multi-pronged.” She added, “A daily routine, internal supplements, in-clinic treatments, monthly facials – all work hand in hand to improve and maintain skin. While luxury beauty treatments at a clinic are essential for deeper and better penetration of ingredients, the effects of these treatments are incomplete without the right daily skin care routine at home.”
Vandini Gutpa, too, believed that skincare and beauty treatments complement each other. “You need regular beauty treatments as well as daily skincare to get the best results. The same ingredients that penetrate your skin during the treatment are also present in the product that we recommend after the treatment. So that you’re using the same ingredients until your next appointment. And that is when you really see your skin change. I think both luxury beauty treatments and daily beauty routines complement each other and over time I believe that people will start to value that.”