Here at NaturallyCurly, we love innovators in the curly and textured hair care industry. Christian Karega, Founder of Ayur Luxe, is one the premier innovators you need to know about right now. This Leader in Curls has a "B.S. in Engineering from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School with distinction" and long-range goal of owning a "world-class brand with the potential to popularize Ayurvedic herbal traditions in the mainstream American beauty market."
That's why we were thrilled to sit down and chat with her about Ayur Luxe. Get ready to fall in love with her approach to haircare!
To start, will you please tell us about your company's history?
The idea for Ayur Luxe was birthed in August 2018. I was in another hair care rut. Like most natural girls, I went to YouTube to find a solution to the slow growth, breakage, and damage that I couldn’t seem to stop with any product I used. When I came across Ayurvedic herbs for hair, I knew it was the thing I was missing. Unfortunately, at-home recipes are just not practical for my busy life. Ayurvedic herbs were hard to find and the recipes were difficult and messy to use. I started working on Ayur Luxe in September 2018, and it took me almost a year to iterate on the formulation for the Damage Control collection. I wanted to make sure it lived up to its promise to harness the power of these herbs in the most effective way possible. We launched in July 2018, and the response has been amazing over the last month. People are really loving the products.
Have you always had a passion for natural hair and hair care?
No. The natural hair movement selected me. I have been natural for over 20 years; long before the natural trend started. I was forced into natural hair because although my hair looks thick, it is very fragile and can’t handle relaxers. I had to stop relaxing my hair if I wanted to keep it on my head! Back in those days, very few people knew how to care for natural hair. I was afraid of my natural hair. It wasn’t until I spent time on YouTube and read blogs like Curly Nikki that I began learning about natural hair. I learned what it likes and how to treat it and I fell in love with my natural hair for the first time. Now I see how blessed we are as Black women to have extremely versatile hair.
Please tell us about your hair care collection.
The Damage Control Collection is a Whole Hair Food that contains a proprietary blend of nutrient-dense Ayurvedic herbs (Bhringraj, Brahmi, Amla, Tulsi, Fenugreek, Hibiscus, Shikakai, Reetha, and Neem) with deeply hydrating oils such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, castor oil, and shea butter. The goal of the Damage Control Collection is to reduce breakage, shedding, split-ends and damage that impedes hair growth and retention. We worked with an Ayurvedic expert in India to develop a proprietary blend of 9 Ayurvedic herbs to address these issues. The Damage Control Collection includes a sulfate-free low lather shampoo, leave-in conditioner, and a hair rehab mask. For those who want an extra boost of Ayurvedic herbs every day, we have a Raw Herb Hair Treatment Oil.
What curly and textured hair concerns does Ayur Luxe address?
Ayur Luxe launched with the Damage Control Collection, which focuses on damaged, dry and overworked hair. The Damage Control Collection addresses breakage, damage, and shedding. I started the first collection to deal with these concerns because they are huge concerns for curly and textured hair and this is an area where Ayurvedic herbs shine.
There are so many products on the market that condition and soften the hair and make it feel good, but not many actually protect the hair from damage, shedding, and split ends. There are 9 Ayurvedic herbs that are used in all products in the Damage Control collection. Just about every one of these herbs has been scientifically studied in independent labs to produce amazing hair outcomes. These herbs have been scientifically proven to grow hair better than Minoxidil 2%, reduce shedding, strengthening hair, and detoxifying the scalp.
What intrigues me most about Ayur Luxe is that it contains ingredients that derive from the Ayurvedic herbal tradition. For those unfamiliar with Ayurvedic practice, will you please explain why it is vital to hair care, beauty, and culture?
Ayurveda is an ancient healing system originating in India. It has a belief system around healing the body naturally with diet, exercise, and herbal remedies. It intersects with beauty because many of the herbs that are used to treat ailments have done wonders for the hair and skin for thousands of years. There has been extensive scientific research that explains why these herbs work so well on the hair and skin. For example, in clinical studies, Bhringraj extract increased the average number of hair follicles by 50% and caused hair to regrow in less time than Minoxidil 2% in mice. Researchers believe Bhringraj does this by keeping hair in the growth phase longer. When combined together, Amla, Brahmi, Hibiscus, and Fenugreek all have been studied to also extend the growth phase of hair and the number of new hair follicles. Shikakai thickens and protects hair because it is a hair super food-loaded with Vitamin A, C, D, K, E, antioxidants, minerals, and micronutrients. Lastly, the scalp is largely ignored when talking about hair health, but it is so vitally important. Fungus and bacteria on the scalp can inhibit hair growth and damage hair. Tulsi and Neem have been scientifically proven to reduce dandruff and kill fungus and bacteria that inhibit hair growth. Ayurvedic herbs address all these issues, which is why we put them in our products.
In your opinion, which of these factors is most important to consider when purchasing hair products: hair density, hair width, porosity, curl pattern, length, or something else?
I think they are all so important. If I were to choose one, I would say one’s curl pattern is a vital factor when selecting hair products. Your porosity will help you understand how your hair handles moisture, shrinkage, heat, and retention. It will tell you how your hair handles protein, oil, and conditioning agents. Another important factor in hair care is the scalp, which is so often ignored. Healthy hair starts with the scalp. So, when selecting hair care products, make sure to find products that thoroughly cleanse the scalp and feed the scalp with the nutrients it needs to grow.
What advice do you have for burgeoning hair care and beauty entrepreneurs?
Firstly, we need you. Black women are 5% of the US population, but we purchase 33% of the hair products sold in the US. We need more women of color developing hair and beauty products for us.
Secondly, when developing your product, find your customer and develop your products for them. Some of the best features of the Damage Control line came from hard to please hair enthusiasts who gave me honest feedback on how to make the products better. Spend the extra time during development making sure what you offer your customers is the very best that it can be.
Lastly, do not give up. The movies always cut to the end and never shows the mundane daily grinding it takes to launch a business. In real life, it is a grind, and you are not always sure if and when your hard work will pay off. Stay motivated by focusing on how you would like to impact the world with your business.
Are there any hair care industry trends catching your eye?
I absolutely believe that over the next 5 years, everyone will be talking about Ayurvedics in beauty in the same way everyone is talking about CBD now. I already see Ayurvedic herbs showing up in food products, teas, and herbal products. I also see a few Ayurvedic herbs show up in beauty products here and there. I know there are so many hidden jewels in the lexicon of Ayurvedic Herbs that will be known as miracle herbs in the US. I want Ayur Luxe to be positioned as a leader when this trend catches on.
What can we expect to see from Ayur Luxe in the next year or two?
Ayur Luxe’s mission is to popularize Ayurvedic herbs that have been used for centuries to address beauty’s toughest challenges. I have at least 3 different hair care collections that I want to launch in the next 12-24 months. Because of the high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and cleansing agents of Ayurvedic herbs, they have wonderful applications for skincare. You can expect an Ayur Luxe Skin Care line coming out that harvests the very best Ayurvedic herbs for the skin.