Who owns what in the beauty industry (prepare to be surprised… very, very surprised!)

Bobbi Brown leaves Bobbi Brown. Jennifer Anniston exits Living Proof. Revlon purchases Elizabeth Arden for US$870 million. L’Oréal acquires IT Cosmetics for $1.2 billion. In cash. Coty merges with P&G Specialty Beauty Business, taking on 43 big league brands, including Wella and Max Factor. Estée Lauder brings Becca on board. And then picks up Too Faced for $1.4 billion, making it the company’s largest acquisition ever.

And that’s not even close to counting all the mergers and acquisitions that rocked the cosmetics world in the last year. A year that will go down in beauty history as the epitome of shakeups.

Yes, the beauty industry’s scorecard of mergers and acquisitions seems more laden with intrigue than even the NBA basket ball teams or the Football League. It might surprise you to know that the entire world of makeup, skincare, haircare and perfumes is dominated by a few key players – all multi-billion dollar corporations with ownership over multiple major brands.

Here’s how it breaks down at the beginning of 2017.

L’Oréal Group

The almost-100-year-old L’Oréal group is headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, near Paris. It began with the hair colour business, under French-German chemist Eugène Paul Louis Schueller, and employs almost 20,000 chemists today. Nestle holds a 23.29% stake in the group.

loreal-brandsEstée Lauder Companies

The family-run company that began with just four products – Skin Lotion, Cleansing Oil, Creme Pack and Super Rich All purpose Creme – in 1946, is one of the world’s leading cosmetic conglomerates 70 years later.

estee-brandsShiseido Group

Established in 1872 by Arinobu Fukuhar in Ginza, Tokyo, Shiseido was not only Japan’s first “western style” pharmacy, it was also the one that launched ice cream in the country. The Shiseido Ice Cream Parlour branched off in 1928 and is still in business today.

shiseidoLVMH

What to say: Seems Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has a finger in every pie, including Sephora, our favourite beauty playground.

lvmhKendo

Kendo, owned by LVMH, is an incubator company that singularly focusses on developing niche brands that end up being retailed by the group-owned Sephora. Next project: Fenty Beauty, a makeup brand created by Rihanna.

brandskendoUnilever

The world’s third largest consumer goods company has a robust beauty arm, with standouts like Kate Somerville, Murad and Vaseline. It’s of British-Dutch origin and is co-headquartered in Rotterdam and London.

brandsunileverProctor & Gamble

The US-based multinational just divested itself of around 100 brands, many of those in the beauty segment going to the Coty Group. The logic was to streamline the company and concentrate on the approximately 65 brands that contribute 95% of the group’s profits.

brandspgJohnson & Johnson

The 130-year-old consumer goods company is a model of sustainable development. It was ranked third among the United States’s largest companies in Newsweek’s “Green Rankings”, based on its constantly-evolving environment friendly policies.

brandsjjBeiersdorf

This German company runs the gamut from mass beauty like Nivea to a prestige brand like La Prairie.

brandsbeiserdorfCoty

Coty’s $12.5 billion merger with Proctor & Gamble’s Specialty Beauty Business last year has made it the world’s third largest beauty company.

cotyKao

This Japanese company is going truly multinational, in the way it’s picking up British classics like Molton Brown and John Frieda.

brandskao

If you want to see the evolution of the beauty industry, here is my older post containing the stack-ups in 2015. It’s interesting to see how things have moved around, much like the NFL tables!

Which of these surprised you the most? Is there anything I have left out? Tell me in the comments section below!

Time to let go…

This one’s going to be personal. Because I am a writer. And the only way I can let go of things and emotions is by pouring them out on paper. Or actually a computer screen. And today I’ve got to let go of something big. Something’s that been a part of me since the very beginning. Something that’s literally a part of who I am, even though I might have forgotten that in the madness of daily living.

But first tell me, where’s home for you? Is it the sepia-memoried place you grew up? The crazy single girl’s pad of college days? The shiny new apartment you rented at the beginning of your career? The solid house you bought with that big promotion? The I-am-now-grown-up flat you moved into after getting married? The comfortable place where your parents live? Which one of these is home? One of them? All of them? None of them?

Like most people of the 21st century, I’ve lived in a lot of houses. But really only three of them have been home. And today even my last link to the first one of them went away forever.

It was a rambling old bungalow in Lucknow, a colorful, vibrant and crazily chaotic city in Northern India. We went there to visit my paternal grandparents every single year for every holiday, till I hit adulthood. Every summer would be spent there, four weeks reconciling the pace of our urban, multi-cultural lives with the traditions of Indian living.

Holi, Dussehra, Diwali, women who ruled the kitchen, men who brought home the bread (or the khasta kachori), copious amounts of chaat and jalebis (traditional Indian snacks), ever-overflowing trays of piping hot tea, mammoth Ambassador cars, rickshaw rides, loads of giggling, gossiping, family politics and all-around communal living with countless uncles, aunts and cousins packed into one sprawling space… this was my connect with the India of my roots. My heritage, which would be embraced for a few glorious weeks and then packed away for the rest of the year when we returned to our regular lives.

kamla-charanNo, don’t get me wrong. I am under no delusion that traditional living is preferable to today’s multi-cultural, multi-national ethos. Times change and we have to change with them. That’s something my grandmother taught me, right in the middle of those summery childhood days. And my grandmother, with whom I have battled and made up more times that either of us could remember, was someone you really couldn’t ignore. Headstrong, intellectual, superbly well read and with her own ideas on how to do most things, she was pretty much the total antithesis of what one expects from an Indian woman.

Rather than exhorting me to pray to an endless number of Gods, she taught me never to conduct empty rituals without first understanding their core. She was never the kind of grandmother who cocooned me in fuzzy fairytales and loaded me with sweets and ice creams. She didn’t spend evenings pushing me on a swing.

Instead, she was the kind of grandmother who taught me how to be strong, how to be independent, how to meet life on my own terms. She taught me never to be apologetic for being myself, for following my own path. She led by example to prove there’s nothing a woman can’t do just as well as men, whether it’s to fire a pistol or manage her own life. She taught me how to fight but you also taught me how to forgive. To never stop looking for answers. And for that I will always be grateful… because fairytales fade but strength remains. 

Grandmom, you were one of the strongest women I ever knew. I am proud to be your granddaughter and am grateful for all the years we had together. But now it’s time for you to rest, to be free of the unbearable pain that consumed you. Rest in peace dadi… you’ve earned your repose.

kamla-charan-my-grandmom

 

Beauty recipes from my Indian wedding (that work EVERYWHERE in the world!)

Nine hours. That’s how long it took to apply the mehndi at the Indian part of my wedding, exactly 8 years back. I still remember waking up at 6 in the morning and sitting still for 9 full hours, while 4 women worked simultaneously on my hands and legs (so, that’s 36 woman-hours in total), sketching intricate designs from the tips of my fingers to the shoulders, and from the tips of my toes to the knees – both sides! And then waiting another 4 hours for it to dry, followed by the mandatory lemon-and-sugar rinse and leaving it overnight to assure a rich and dark colour. I think that’s when it finally dawned that I was about to get married – me, the girl who saw India as a cultural fantasy and had openly declared marriage to be the least sane of all institutions know to mankind. Well, love and all that… !!!!

My wedding mehndi

My wedding mehndi

Anyway, coming back to the mehndi (or henna), it’s so crucial to an Indian wedding that the two have become synonymous with one another. Mehndi brings luck to the new couple, while its colour is supposed to indicate the strength of the husband’s love: the deeper the hue, the stronger the love! And, most importantly, the bride is not allowed to work in her husband’s home until her mehndi fades completely (thereby making up for those 9 hours!).

And it’s not just about the mehndi, either. Today, it’s been 8 years since I got married and in true beauty junkie fashion, what I remember most about the wedding are those long, lush and totally indulgent hair and skincare rituals that I got to enjoy as a bride in a culture that elevates its beauty heritage to a ceremonial pedestal. My mother is still convinced that the only reason I traded my raggedy skinnies for a traditional Rajasthani lehenga (that weighed 41 pounds!) was to enjoy all the beauty goodies that hold ritualistic centre stage in an Indian wedding. She may well be right.

Thankfully, though, you don’t need to be a bride to enjoy some of these timeless beauty recipes that make you look good and feel good… the perfect combination, where I am concerned!

Indian beauty recipe #1: Sandalwood & almond face scrub

Rose water is purifying, while almonds and saffron represent fertility. But that’s just the ritualistic part. The reason Indian women have revered this scrub since the times of Ayurveda is because almonds contain essential fatty acids for smooth and super-supple skin. They are also packed with antioxidants, including vitamin E, to neutralise environmental toxins and keep skin healthy.

Rose water and saffron, in the meantime, are packed with skin soothing and complexion perfecting ingredients, like Vitamin C and polyphenols, which can erase fine lines, boost collagen, clear blocked pores, soften the complexion and hydrate cell tissues.

4-5 almonds
3-4 strands of saffron, dissolved in a few drops of warm water
few drops of rose water

1. Rub the almonds on a coarse stone with rose water till you get a paste

2. Mix this paste with the saffron water

3. Apply the mask to your face; let it dry, then rub it off with wet hands. Weeks of accumulated grime and dead skin will come off with the paste

Indian beauty recipe #2: Heal chronic acne

Sandalwood has potent antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant properties that make it a treat for flawlessly glow-y complexions. It’s also superb at reducing skin scarring of all kinds. Vetiver is antiseptic and very effective in treating chronic acne. Added bonus: this paste smells divine!

1 small bunch vetiver
few drops of vetiver essential oil
2 tsp sandalwood powder
 

1. Soak the vetiver in a little water overnight

2. Next day, strain the water and mix it with the sandalwood powder

3. Add few drops of vetiver essential oil to the paste

4. Apply this paste on your face, paying special attention to the affected areas; wash it off once dry. Repeat daily till for 2-4 weeks; the left over paste should be kept refrigerated

This day, that year!

This day, that year!

Indian beauty recipe #3: Stop seeing spots

Masoor dal (whole brown lentils) is superb for lightening acne scars and hyper pigmentation, tightening the pores, nourishing the skin and bringing about a natural glow. Ghee (clarified butter) is an Ayurvedic staple used to deep cleanse and moisturise, while being one of nature’s most potent skin healers. In fact, Ayurveda calls upon ghee for everything from healing burns and tackling bruises or rashes to closing the skin post-surgery.

2 tbsp masoor (whole black lentils)
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
 

1. Soak the masoor in filtered water for an hour

2. Throw away the water and grind the lentils and ghee together, till they reach a paste-like consistency

3. Apply this paste on freshly washed face; gently scrub off with wet fingers after half an hour

4. Repeat daily for a week and then once-weekly for best results

Indian beauty recipe #4: Traditional body polish

Used by women all over India, this gently body scrub literally shucks the dead cells and buffs skin to silky smoothness. How? Milk contains hefty amounts of lactic acid to loosen dead cells and grime; chickpea flour sloughs off dead skin; while turmeric is a natural cleanser and disinfectant.

2 tbsp chickpea flour
pinch of turmeric powder
enough milk to make a paste
 

1. Blend all the ingredients into a thick paste

2. Apply on slightly damp skin, then rub off in gentle, circular motions. Finally rinse skin clean with plain water

Indian beauty recipe #5: Whole body mask

This traditional body mask (called an ubtan) is applied to both bride and groom for seven days before the wedding. It’s messy but superb for making skin smooth, flawless and glow-y. Turmeric cleanses, disinfects and glosses; sandalwood is antiseptic, astringent and anti-inflammatory; gur (jaggery) is packed with glycolic acid for exfoliation and humectants to keep everything moisturised; yogurt’s lactic acid helps slough off dead skin cells; chickpea flour busts grime and toxins; and ghee deep cleanses, moisturise and heals.

2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
1 tbsp sandalwood powder
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp gur (sugar cane jaggery)
2 tbsp yogurt
2 tsp ghee (clarified butter)

1. Mix everything together to form a paste

2. Apply the paste to clean skin; wait till it dries (approximately 15 minutes), then rub it away with wet fingers. Finally, rinse clean with lukewarm water

Playing dress up

Playing dress up

Indian beauty recipe #6: Sexy strands

It’s a well accepted fact that there couldn’t be anything better for your strands than coconut oil (read more about the beauty benefits of coconut oil right here). Add in amla (Indian gooseberry), one of the highest natural sources of vitamin C and powerful antioxidants that can penetrate the scalp to strengthen hair follicles right at their roots, and you have a potent potion to stop hair loss and promote the growth of stronger, healthier strands.

1 cup amla juice
1 cup coconut oil
 

1. Mix the coconut oil and amla juice; pour into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil

2. Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes on a medium flame, till all the water has evaporated and you are left with a light brown paste

3. Take off the heat, cool and strain; store in a glass bottle

4. Massage well into your scalp, leave on for at least half an hour and then wash hair with a mild shampoo

Indian beauty recipe #7: Smooth & glossy hair oil

Every ingredient in this fragrant hair oil is chosen because of its blood-circulation-boosting and hair-root-nourishing properties. Try it once a week and you will see your strands getting thicker, smoother, stronger and way glossier than ever before.

half cup sesame oil
2 cloves garlic
small piece of dry ginger 
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black pepper
 

1. Coarsely pound the garlic and ginger; you don’t need to crush it too fine, just a couple of whacks is enough to release their oils

2. Heat sesame oil in a small pan; once it’s hot, add the cumin and black pepper

3. Add the crushed garlic and ginger; let everything simmer together for a few seconds (the spices shouldn’t burn)

4. Let the oil cool and store it in a glass bottle

5. When you want to use the oil, warm it up to lukewarm (take care that it’s not hot enough to burn your skin) and massage it in your scalp. Let it soak for at least 15 minutes (an hour is ideal!), then wash it off with your regular shampoo

What’s a favourite memory from your wedding? Let’s share!

How NOT to look sick (yes, even when you are sniffling away)

Red, watery eyes, runny nose, blotchy skin and chapped lips… having a cold or the flu isn’t very nice. It’s not just that you feel awful but you don’t look too pretty either. But there’s no need to let a nasty chill wreak havoc with your looks (or your plans). Master these easy beauty tricks and face the world looking terrific, despite the sniffles.

sick-day-makeupHide a cold #1: Glow of health

If the winter chills have left your complexion looking tired and pasty, use a gentle cleansing scrub to rev up circulation and make skin glow. Follow with a hydrating, vitamin-rich moisturiser, like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Power Concentrate, to soothe soreness around the nose.

Pale, sick faces sometimes need a bit of artificial health pumped into them – a sweep of blush will make you look sprightly and healthy.

Hide a cold #2: Get rid of the red

Red and blotchy skin is a sure sign of an unhappy immune system. Use products that counter the redness, like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer, then damp-sponge on a sheer liquid foundation to even out the skin tone.

Bring out the skin brighteners like Stila’s One Step Illuminate. Unlike many other makeup products, which contain titanium dioxide – a white substance that adds opacity (not what you want when you are tired) – skin brighteners pack crushed rose quartz and mother-of-pearl, which reflect light to perk up your skin.

Hide a cold #3: Eye bright

Caking concealer over dark circles will only emphasise them further. Instead, dot some where your eye meets the bridge of your nose and blend outwards. Opt for a lightweight concealer that’s one shade lighter than your skin tone. Clinique’s Even Better Concealer is perfect for this. Follow with a light layer of loose powder. 

And that’s not all: Brighten up groggy eyes with over-the-counter eyedrops that will give them a good cleanse and tone down redness. Plus, run a white eyeliner along the inside rim to make tired eyes look fresher. Also remember that watery eyes can make your mascara run in nasty streaks. So, when colds strike, go waterproof.

Hide a cold #4: Lip service

Dry, cracked lips are painful and ugly. Restore their smoothness with this old-school trick: brush your lips with a toothbrush smeared in Vaseline. This will buff off any loose skin and leave your lips soft and rosy.

For a more permanent solution, heal cracked or damaged lips with a super salve like Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil.

Finally, slick on a little lip gloss; lipsticks are usually to drying and hence avoidable during this time.

How do you deal with being sick? Are you the indulge-me type or do you prefer to just get up and keep going?