With people becoming more and more conscious about what they consume, and the impact these products have on the world around them, brands that are committed to making more ethical choices are popping up. One of the more recent efforts towards making products that are kind to both, the environment and the consumers, has been from Karishma Kewalramani’s FAE Beauty (an acronym for Free And Equal Beauty).
“I’ve always had a deep sense of passion for the beauty industry; I’ve been enamoured by the transformative power of make-up. At the same time, there have been instances when the beauty industry was extremely intimidating. Growing up, I remember putting an unrealistic amount of pressure on myself to look a certain way,” says Karishma, explaining her motivation to start FAE Beauty. When she moved back to India in 2017 with the goal of building a career in the beauty space, she was unable to find a company that was making good, clean products for real Indian people. While diversity and inclusion seemed to be industry buzzwords, a huge group of individuals, men, women, girls, and boys were being marginalized by the industry, she adds. “This realisation was the basis of the creation of FAE Beauty—a brand that cares deeply about its community and customers, that is transparent and offers its consumers the choice of purchasing products made with cleaner ingredients without compromising on trendiness. And more importantly, it had to be a brand that worked to pull individuals and communities into a conversation that they have been marginalized from for too long,” she says.
The company launched with a capsule collection of five lipsticks. They adapt to its user’s skin tone, and so it looks different on each and every person. “We identified the five most-used lip colours in India by surveying groups of our target audience and tweaked them to arrive at a capsule collection of five lip colours that we believe will suit everyone. Accurate representation in beauty is important to us,” Karishma explains. These lipsticks are buildable, which essentially means that with each swipe, the darker the colour, giving users control in terms of how they want their lipstick to look. What’s even better is that they double up as a cheek tint and eye shadow, as well.
These products are vegan, Paraben-free, and not tested on animals. “When we were coming up with the formula, we decided that wanted to make our products with as many food-grade ingredients as possible, If you are putting it on your lips, it should be good enough to put into your body,” says Karishma. Creating products that have the efficacy of standard lipsticks without using animal-derived ingredients is no easy feat, but being vegan and cruelty free was not something the brand was willing to compromise on. “It took nine months of R&D and dozens of lipstick samples to finally crack the formula,” she adds.
Diversity and inclusion is the foundation on which the company was built, says Karishma. Instead of using these terms as marketing strategy, they have used them as the guiding principles by which the company makes every decision. Their attempt at inclusivity can be seen in the models they have chosen to promote their brand, their shades and even the names they have chosen for their products. “A lot of us have been subject to stereotypical comments about being ‘Too Dark‘, our make up/personality being ‘Too Much‘, the way we dress being ‘Too Nude or Skimpy’. We thought, why not name our shades based on these stereotypes – we wanted to make a statement by calling attention to these unnecessary labels, and bringing to light the idea that at FAE the only thing that can be Too Nude, Too Basic, Too Much, Too Cheeky, or Too Dark, are our lipstick shades,” she shares.
Advice to consumers
In India, it isn’t a requirement for brands to disclose their ingredients on packaging, which makes it hard for consumers to validate claims that brands make. “Take out a few minutes to research and purchase brands that disclose their ingredients and thoroughly scan the ingredient lists to ensure that they are truly vegan and void of animal testing,” says Karishma.