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Made-in-India beauty for Russia

Maria Chabana is like any other beauty expert running a salon in St Petersberg. But the techniques and the products she uses are essentially Indian. Same is the case with hundreds of clinics in Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and many Central Asian republics.

And not just the products, their beauticians have been specially trained in India and use only herbal products. Chabana is heading a group of 15 trained cosmetologists who are here to do a two-week course in Ayurveda and herbal cosmetology.

After movies, it's now the turn of Indian beauty products to woo the Russians and women in other Central Asian countries.

"There is lot of craze among women in our country to use only herbal cosmetics. In the last five years many cosmetic companies like Himalaya, Biotic, Shahnaz Herbals, Dabur have become very popular there," says Chabana.

"French cosmetics are very popular back home. But slowly people are realising the ill-effects of chemicals and are shifting to herbals. Ours is a very small country, but we have two herbal clinics and many are in the process of opening up," says Monica, who owns a clinic in Estonia.

"The rules on setting up beauty clinics are very strict in our country and people working in them are trained cosmetologists. And only herbal products which meet all the required specifications can be used," says Chabana, talking through an interpreter.

"Since the techniques for using these herbal products are different, we have to send the cosmetologists for training here, especially in facials and massage techniques," says Monica, adding, 'we have a very western culture. But once here, our cosmetologists also learn how to treat their clients in a very special way, answer their queries and explain them very patiently about different techniques'.

"Skin care, hair care and facials using Ayurvedic products are very popular there," she says.

Rashi, a cosmetologist at a training institute, says, "besides Central Asian countries, the Ayurvedic beauty courses are also very popular with North Americans, South Africans and even Swiss".

"They are interested in learning anti-wrinkle treatment, face-lift techniques, acne and hair-fall treatment," she says.

"With the wellness concept sweeping the world, there is a global interest in holistic systems like Ayurveda. The Indian philosophies of yoga and meditation have already become extremely popular around the world, not only in the West, but also in other countries, including South East Asia," says beauty expert Shahnaz Husain.

"Due to the cold climate in many western countries as well as their exposure to artificial heating, Ayurvedic moisturising and nourishing products are in demand. Skin rejuvenation and anti-ageing products too have universal demand, whether in the West or Russia," she says.

"The aromatherapy products too are popular, since it is an ancient science and has existed all over the world since ages," she adds, noting 'we have had students from Japan, USA, Australia, Malaysia and Middle East. There is lot of scope in emerging markets of China, Spain and Australia'.

"The Indian cosmetics industry is very well organised and it combines a beautiful blend of traditional and modern beauty products," she says adding India today manufactures a wide range of Herbal cosmetic products which have gained acceptance all over the world.