It’s still a young company, but the fact that Urban Veda follows a line of thinking that is thousands of years old demonstrates their individuality. The British brand has built itself on the teachings of Ayurveda, a traditional healing philosophy from India that goes back 5,000 years, and is based on the therapeutic properties of plants, which are, as we know, filled with vitamins and antioxidants. The term Ayurveda is derived from Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language: ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘veda’, wisdom.
Founded in 2013 by Sheilesh Shah, Urban Veda’s core values line up with those of the ancient philosophy. One aspect of the skincare industry people can find frustrating is that the majority of mainstream brands do not look very deep for answers to skin issues. It looks as if they just mask the problem with a quick fix.
The Ayurvedic term ‘dosha’ describes the physical and emotional tendencies in our mind, body and spirit. According to the philosophy, there are three tendencies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Our dosha expresses everything about us, from our skin type to our physical characteristics, health and even personality traits.
In Ayurvedic literature, Vata is defined by the elements air and ether, which can have drying and ageing effects on the skin. Pitta’s element is fire, so while the temper can be hot, the skin is sensitive. Lastly, Kapha is ruled by the elements of earth and water, and persons exhibiting Kapha are usually oily-skinned with large pores.
Urban Veda’s products address the skincare needs of each of the three doshas, and to find out which one you are, they have a helpful questionnaire on their website which asks you about your body temperature, skin type, how often you exercise, your stress response and other factors.
One issue we don’t think much about is the daily stress we put our skin through. Today, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. And what comes with living in a city? A massive amount of air pollution. London broke its annual air pollution limit just five days into 2017 – three days faster than in 2016. Seattle’s air quality was downgraded to ‘unhealthy’ in September 2017. Beijing’s infamous air pollution forces residents to wear masks.
Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, accelerated ageing and, in extreme situations, skin cancer. When pollution encounters your skin, it doesn’t just sit on the surface, dirtying it like it would a windscreen. Pollution particles can be 20 times smaller than pores, allowing them to infiltrate deep into the layers of the epidermis. It causes inflammation, dehydration and even a cellular-level reaction that leads to a loss of elasticity and firmness.
Urban Veda wants to address these stresses with their naturally formulated products that contain Ayurvedic herbs, flowers and fruits, combined with multivitamins and clinically proven actives. These ingredients can help shield or even ‘pollution-proof’ our vulnerable skin against harmful environmental factors such as exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke.
The brand’s mission does not stop there. Not only does Urban Veda want to help us find our way to better skin, they want to better the planet as well. In today’s environmental reality, companies that support sustainability are invaluable. Certified vegan by the Vegetarian Society, Urban Veda does not test on animals or use any ingredients that are tested on animals. The brand also refuses to sell to countries where testing on animals is obligatory.
What also makes Urban Veda stand out is its use of Forest Sustainability Certified packaging and post-consumer recycled plastic. Wisely, the brand follows the motto of what goes around, comes around. Parabens, artificial colours and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), an ingredient often found in face and body cleansers, are also banned.
Urban Veda is an accredited member of the Good Scrub Guide, an organisation that successfully campaigned for the ban on plastic microbeads that was with legislation being crafted by the British government in 2017.
The Purifying range alone, for oily skin ‘Kapha’ dosha types, has won an impressive 11 industry and consumer-led awards. The future looks bright for Urban Veda – and for skin.