A large part of the concept of self-care is nowadays based on skincare products, available in large varieties and quantities in the market. But in a bid to access these (often) expensive and luxury products, how much attention do we really pay to the chemicals we’re putting on our skin?
To tackle the issue of overuse of chemicals in consumer products, Anciya K A, a native of Thrissur in Kerala, makes 38 varieties of skincare products using ingredients available at her home. “Since childhood, I have been using only natural and homemade products on my skin. The credit goes to my mother, Tahira, who prepares all the products and ensures my skin is nourished in the best possible way,” she says.
“The products include hair oil, hair wash powder, body wash powder, and face pack. When I was a child, I was obsessed with the products being sold in markets, but my mother never allowed me to buy them. Today, I understand why, and my skin has really benefited,” she adds.
Anciya, who is 23 years old, has always boasted of skin that has no blemishes and is well-moisturised. She claims to have never suffered from dry skin, rashes, or any such infections. Married at the age of 18, she wanted to make better use of her free time. She started a YouTube channel, in which she began posting videos of her making homemade skincare products.
A mother’s love
“I learned how to make these products only by watching my mother,” Anciya tells The Better India, adding, “She never allowed me to help in the kitchen, and always said she was there to do the work by herself.”
She posted her first video on her channel, ‘Ummees (mother in Malayalam) Naturals’ in 2017. The video entailed details on homemade hair oil. “I also shared the video on my personal Facebook page. I love writing, so I made sure I wrote a brief paragraph on the product and my mother’s role in it,” she recalls.
Anciya’s first post received many inquiries and orders for the hair oil. “I didn’t even have to spend a single penny as an investment. My customers sent me Rs 5,000 in advance to prepare the product for them. The oil was made using ingredients like aloe vera, gooseberry, henna leaves and curry leaves, all of which was available at home. Within days, I started receiving good reviews, and subsequently, more orders,” she says.
Understanding the demand for natural skin care products, she began making more, and also created a Facebook page for her venture. Presently, ‘Ummees Naturals’ prepares 38 products, including face wash, cucumber gel, kajal, aloe vera shampoo, fairness oil, mixed fruit gel, henna powder, lip balm, papaya soap and kumkumadi oil.
Anciya says 95 per cent of the ingredients are homemade, whereas only five per cent are brought from the market. These include wax, camphor, and packaging material.
“On some days, I receive over 50 orders in a single day. I earn Rs 2 lakh per month from selling my products. I use the profis to grow my business and make more varieties of the products,” she says.
Anciya’s husband, Ramsheed, who is a graphic designer, helps her by giving labels for her products. She says these labels help her get more customers. “All my products are tested in labs and checked by qualified doctors. Only after testing are they sold to customers,” she says.
Anciya works with a network of homemakers to procure her ingredients, be it aloe vera, or hibiscus. “I network with women from Thrissur district, and they cultivate the aloe vera, curry leaves, hibiscus leaves and other plants for my products. After the harvest, they come home to hand me the material, and I pay the market price for it. Over a 100 homemakers sell their ingredients to me. I’m glad I can help other women grow with this endeavour,” she says.
Apart from homemakers, Anciya also collects ingredients from children. During the lockdown, many children brought hibiscus leaves for her. For each box, she gives Rs 200 to them. To earn some pocket money, some children have also started cultivating hibiscus plants at home.
Currently, Anciya makes all skincare products at home. “My family helps with the process. My brother used to take leaves from work just to help me out. My family’s support is the main reason I became a successful entrepreneur,” she says.
She wishes to expand her business and open a factory in the name of ‘Ummees Naturals’ soon.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)