When you’re raised in a multi-generational South Asian household in the diaspora, it’s practically your job as a third-culture kid to take your family’s everyday beliefs and habits with a fat pinch of skepticism. Whether it was sucking on a clove bud when I had a toothache, drinking room-temperature water instead of cold to aid digestion, being force-fed raw almonds to sharpen my mind (especially during exams) or reluctantly slathering on a DIY body-scrub concoction made from chickpea flour, turmeric and yogourt for a healthy glow, my younger self just assumed that these kooky natural remedies, or desi ilaj, were rooted in superstition rather than one of the oldest traditional-medicine systems around. It turns out that these customs stemmed from the ancient scripts of Ayurveda, a Sanskrit term that translates to “the science of life.”

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old interconnected science of the mind, body and soul. At its core is the belief that we each have a body composition that leans toward one of three doshas—vata, pitta or kapha—which are constitutional energies that provide a blueprint for achieving optimal health. So instead of treating a rash or a breakout on the surface, Ayurveda investigates what triggers that imbalance in your system (say, anxiety, seasonal changes or a poor diet) and offers a personalized mind-body solution according to your dosha.

However, with Ayurveda currently making a splash in the worlds of beauty, food, health and wellness, the floodgates have opened for misinformation, cultural appropriation and…TikTok trends. To quote Lisa Mattam, founder of Toronto-based Sahajan skincare: “Just because you threw some turmeric in a beauty product doesn’t mean it’s Ayurvedic.”

The global Ayurvedic market value is expected to reach $28.7 billion by 2028, more than four times what it was worth in 2017. Now, a new generation of South Asian entrepreneurs is reclaiming the natural holistic lifestyle and making it accessible to the masses in innovative ways. By honouring the emotional bonds that connect them to their Indian culture and rituals, these Canadian founders are altering the beauty-and-wellness space and empowering both themselves and their communities.



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Jigyasa Sharma says her journey to founding Hymnologie started with her upbringing in Haryana, India. “Ayurveda is an umbrella term. It is not medicine alone; it’s an entire lifestyle,” she explains. “We lived in the suburbs, close to farms. We would take our bikes to get [farm-fresh] carrots and spinach and eat them raw.”

But it was while Sharma was expecting her first child that the idea for the line really began to take shape. She decided to ditch synthetic skincare products and return to the plant-based potions her mother had concocted all her life. When she and her husband arrived in Canada at the end of 2020, they devised a plan to create an all-natural-beauty brand that harnesses the power of Ayurveda. “People know about Ayurveda, but they don’t fully understand it,” she says.

What sets Hymnologie’s approach apart is its transparent supply chain and direct-sourcing strategy. “My husband’s cousin owns a farm back home in India,” she says. “They make all their own cold-pressed essential oils, which we use in the formulas.” This not only eliminates the need for bulk suppliers but also ensures that the raw ingredients come from a naturally supported ecosystem in the valleys of the Himalayas. “That gives me great satisfaction—we’re not only bringing clean skincare but also controlling the quality of the products.”

Comprising melts, masks and serums, Hymnologie’s offering was created with a broad audience in mind. “Although Ayurveda has very specific guidelines on kapha, pitta and vata types, there are always remedies and formulas available that work for all skin types,” explains Sharma. Take, for example, the brand’s Brilliance Tonic Facial Serum. “I wanted it to be a serum that targets every damn problem because as a busy mom, I want one product that suits me.”

Hymnologie Anti-Ageing Eye Serum

Hymnologie Anti-Ageing Eye Serum, $47


Delivered via a cooling rollerball, this serum makes light work of dark circles and under-eye puffiness thanks to antioxidant-rich tamanu oil and circulation-boosting robusta coffee.



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For centuries, South Asian elders have used a shelf-stable clarified butter known as “ghee” as part of ancient Ayurvedic wellness rituals and everyday beauty regimens. Even today, it’s not unusual for someone’s bibi (grandmother) to lather freshly made rotis with the silky pantry staple one minute and them- selves the next. Ghlee is one of the modern-day beauty brands keeping this tradition alive by incorporating the golden elixir into its lip-care portfolio, which includes five scented balms (Mango-Papaya, Rose, Chai, Mint and Original), a hydrating mask and a softening scrub.

Ghlee officially launched in May of last year, but its origin story begins in the childhood home of siblings Varun and Arati Sharma, whose chapped lips were a recurring struggle during harsh Canadian winters. “I started going to [my sister’s] bathroom to steal all her lip products,” recalls Varun. “They would work for a bit, but then I would come home and my lips would be red again.” The cycle continued until he put his ego aside and stuck his finger in a jar of homemade ghee. “I remember the moment I was like, ‘Holy shit—this is amazing!’ There was something to what my mom had been saying my whole life, and it took me 15 years to listen!”

Now, Ghlee is expanding beyond lip care with the introduction of a muscle balm—a nod, say the founders, to grandmas in Indian villages who swear by ghee to soothe joint and muscle pain. The new release features a supporting cast of arnica oil, turmeric and black pepper. Like the rest of the range, it’s a thoughtfully developed product that expertly marries time-honoured traditions with contemporary advances. “We’re rooted in Ayurvedic science, but there has been a lot of innovation since then,” says Arati.

Ghlee Lip Mask

Ghlee Lip Mask, $30


Homemade ghee coupled with olive squalane and kahai oil (obtained from the nuts of the cacay tree) helps repair UV damage and target hyperpigmentation while leaving lips soft and supple.



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After consulting in the pharmaceutical industry for 15 years, Lisa Mattam established Sahajan with the goal of backing centuries-old plant wisdom with cutting-edge science. “When I first started, it was to show people that they could rely on these medicinal plants as the perfect [way to] care for their skin,” she says. Teaming up with leading doctors from her parents’ home state of Kerala, Mattam developed formulas for a nourishing face cream and a rejuvenating serum, both of which had clinically tested results. “When I worked in pharma, we couldn’t make claims unless they were proven. I wanted to show that these could really work for people.”

At a time when mentions of botanical ingredients like turmeric, tulsi (commonly known as “holy basil”) and ashwagandha (an evergreen shrub) would still receive blank stares, there were many barriers to entry in 2015. “The hardest part was actually finding a [Canadian cosmetics lab] partner that would make the products,” Mattam recalls of her early start-up days eight years ago. Since then, she says, it has been encouraging to see more South Asian-owned businesses enter the industry. “We’re creating a category in beauty that nobody has ever seen before. The presence of all of us means we’ve arrived.”

Sahajan recently partnered with 400 swanky hotels and now offers its skincare essentials across JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, W Hotels and St. Regis properties. With an assortment of products—including a replenishing Golden Milk Cleanser—now in 200,000 rooms worldwide, Sahajan is breaking new ground as the first Ayurvedic company to be featured in a global luxury-hotel chain. “My whole life, anytime I was in a hotel, there was a French brand or an Icelandic brand or a range from someplace that was really romanticized for its relationship with beauty,” says Mattam. “To think that Indian skincare would be sitting in those rooms and touched by every single guest is phenomenal. It’s a testament to the movement we’re creating.”

Sahajan Radiance Face Serum

Sahajan Radiance Face Serum, $86


Featuring amla (also known as “Indian gooseberry”) oil, gotu kola (a plant with repairing properties) and hyaluronic acid, this lush, ultra-absorbent elixir yields glowing, healthier-looking skin in just six weeks.