26 | www.CosmeticsandToiletries.com Vol. 130, No. 7 | September 2015
RESEARCH | C&T
Reproduction in English or any other language of
all or part of this article is strictly prohibited.
© 2015 Allured Business Media.
The desire to appear attractive is a basic part of human nature and cos- metics have been used to this end since time immemorial, in one form or other. Like other parts of the world, Indian records for cosmetic
use date far back in history, including references in ayurveda; the “Charak
Samhita” or “Compendium of Charaka”—an early text on ayurveda; the
epic Indian poem, “Ramayana”; Upanishads, i.e., mystic teachings on core
Indian philosophies; the ancient Puranas texts on Hindu deities and other
ancient writings and treatises.
Even today, Indian consumers use products associated with rituals or
traditions, although some combine them with modern cosmetics, which
is a result of media influence, increased exposure to the world, enhanced
income, etc. Cosmetics in India are regulated by the Drug and Cosmetics
Act, under which the Bureau of India Standards prescribes the requirements
for given product types; kajal, for example, is covered in IS 151541 and
henna in IS 11142.
Traditionally, products used as cosmetics either were natural materials
or natural materials with certain modifications. These materials may be
classified according to their origin, as follows. 2, 3
Herbal or vegetal: Examples include sandalwood, turmeric, neem, tulsi
or “holy basil,” mehndi or henna, shikakai, aloe vera, nimbu or lemon,
nariyal or coconut, besan, amla or Indian gooseberry, aritha or soapnut,
bhringraj, shankhapushpi, Harda, behada, attar floral essences and various
flowers and oils (tailas), among others.
Mineral: Included here are clays, e.g., Multani mitti or Fuller’s earth,
Chikni mitti or black earth, and Geru or red earth; litharge, i.e., lead(II)
oxide; carbon and various metals.
Animal: These materials might include wax, shahad or honey, doodh or
milk, dahi or yogurt curd, eggs, bird feathers and ivory.
Following is a review of the traditional types of color cosmetics used in
India, including their purpose and ingredients, as well as discussions of how
they have been modernized.
Sindoor or sindur is one of the most ancient products used by Hindu
women to indicate their marital status. Married women apply this red-
Vinay Kumar Singh
Mikasa Cosmetics Ltd., Ahmedabad, India
Traditional and Modern
Indian Color Cosmetics
traditional • ayurveda •
herbal • natural • sindoor •
kumkum • bindi • kajal •
alta • henna • tattoos •
The present article reviews
traditional Indian color
cosmetics, which are used
still today, and considers
their main ingredients.
For example, kajal eye
liner is marketed by most
multinational brands in
India and is regarded as
a driver of sales for other