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Molton Brown has dipped into India’s ancient beauty heritage, discovering two potent ingredients for its new skincare collection. And one of the ingredients has slipped deep enough into history to have been all but forgotten by the locals themselves.

I am talking about Karanja oil – which figures prominently in the Karanja Tree Sunshield SPF 30. After spending the weekend going door-to-door (literally!), picking the memories of 48 grand-aunts and grandmothers ranging between the age of 102 and 78 years, I came away still clueless. It was finally in the Asiatic Society Library (one of India’s best archives) that I found mention of the Karanja tree – a hardy, drought-resistant evergreen that’s very similar to the Neem tree. However, it has a milder aroma than neem oil, which is what probably makes it a better ingredient for use in skincare products.

molton brown, skincare, sunscreen, karanja, neem, tamarind, ayurveda, beauty


In the (very) olden days, Karanja oil was used as an anti-bacterial and anti-insecticide, while also providing relief from skin conditions such as acne, keloid scars, rosacea and dandruff. In the Ayurvedic system, it is believed to enhance the UV absorbing properties of conventional sunscreens, which is what Molton Brown has focussed upon. Kudos Molton Brown for reintroducing us to our own heritage! It would be interesting to know how you happened on this ingredient.

Tamarind (Tamarind Fruit Refining Toner), on the other hand, is a popular skin care ingredient even in contemporary, urban homes across the country. It contains powerful antioxidants that help fight against free radicals, while healing inflammation and purifying the blood. It also contains a hefty dose of fruit acids that are perfect for exfoliation. Till date, my mother uses fresh tamarind pulp as a facial scrub that completely removes all the grime, smoothens the skin and makes it glow.

molton brown, skincare, sunscreen, karanja, neem, tamarind, ayurveda, beauty


Thankfully, Molton Brown has stayed away from the temptation of dressing up the bottles with kitschy, indigenous baubles. I mean, I like kitschy, but somehow it’s more confidence generating to see skincare that’s packaged in plain, minimal almost clinical looking bottles. What do you say?