Text by Avani Thakkar. Photography by Joshua Navalkar
If there’s one thing most Indian grandmothers have in common, it’s their secret beauty concoctions of turmeric, besan, rose water, yogurt and other kitchen ingredients that are carefully guarded and passed down like a treasured family recipe. Sandalwood, or chandan, regularly features in this list; in fact, it’s the star component in many of my own grandmother’s nuskas (formulas).
Sandiva is the home-grown beauty label giving this ingredient’s detoxifying and anti-inflammatory benefits the spotlight they deserve. Founded earlier this year, the Chennai-based brand belongs to the house of Gokul Santol – the country’s leading manufacturer of sandalwood talcum powder. Armed with decades of expertise in procuring and processing pure sandalwood (a notable achievement in India since it is a controlled commodity), Sandiva’s emergence as a skincare brand is justified – even if the market is at a saturation point.
The folks at Sandiva currently procure the sandalwood in the form of logs or chips from the Tamil Nadu and Kerala forest departments during government auctions of dead wood harvested from reserve forests. The brand’s long-term plans include in-house sustainable sandalwood cultivation with a small model plantation located in Tamil Nadu. But until then, experimenting with new formulations that abound with water-resistant ingredients such as zinc oxide, and fit into Indian women’s daily skincare routine is their priority. And they are definitely making headway in this regard, as the beauty brand’s sunblock range is game-changing.
When it comes to sun protection, finding a sunscreen that doesn’t leave white streaks can be tricky. This is where Sandiva’s tinted sunblock, which is formulated to cater to a variety of Indian complexions, steps up to the plate. Not to forget their mattifying SPF top-up loose powder that acts as an additional shield to enhance the power of a “regular” cream-based sunscreen.
Here at Verve, we decided to put these two products to the test and gauge how well they fare on contrasting skin types throughout the day, come rain or shine….
Swati Sinha (31), Senior Designer, Mumbai-based camera enthusiast, always on the hunt for good lighting
What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word “sandalwood”? I’d probably have drawn the common mental picture of incense sticks and old-school face packs…until I tried Sandiva’s beauty products. I’ve been using the brand’s tinted broad-spectrum SPF 35+ sunblock in shade 22 as well as the loose powder as part of my skincare routine for a week now. The powder is particularly great for setting your make-up in a hot and humid city like Mumbai.
For context, I like to start the day early, juggling work and household chores in equal parts. On the professional front, my job requires me to constantly step out in the sun on sourcing trips and test shoots. So, trust me when I say that sunscreen definitely falls under the “essentials” category in my life.
The size of the Sandiva bottle is really handy, so I was easily able to carry it around wherever I went, and it also comes in a nicely designed box with a foil-stamped logo that grabs your attention immediately. The sunblock is dispensed using a pump mechanism, but I personally prefer tubes so that one can control the amount to be applied.
I first did a patch test of the sunblock on my knees and the back of my hand. After ensuring that there was no allergic reaction or irritation, I went ahead and tested it on my face that has an oily T-zone aka the oh-so-tricky combination skin. The sunblock glided on beautifully, providing light, even coverage to my uneven skin tone (the result of Mumbai’s moody weather). The fragrance is not overpowering – the sandalwood scent is very earthy and subdued.
The only drawback? The texture of the loose powder may not suit those with extremely dry skin. But the sunblock feels gentle on the skin and fulfils its purpose of providing protection, if you remember to re-apply every few hours.
Avani Thakkar (23), Writer, Bengaluru-based night owl with a lack of Vitamin D
Full disclaimer: I’m prejudiced against applying anything that’s even slightly scented on my face. This personal policy activated anxiety mode when I heard I had to try out a beauty product that was all about sandalwood – one of the most distinct scents out there. I’d rather have a candle that emits the musky fragrance than a sunblock.
But, I was pleasantly surprised because Sandiva’s leading ingredient, which I had been so wary of initially, turned out to be soothing and understated in its olfactory impact. And as someone with acne-prone skin, I had also expected to feel some sort of tingling or burning sensation, but there was none, much to my relief. The result? An instant no-make-up make-up look that forgoes the need for cakey foundation or concealers – and that’s a win-win because, other than beauty gurus, who really wants to spend more than 10 minutes prepping their skin?
However, this tinted sunblock isn’t designed to offer coverage, like one would expect with a foundation, so don’t rub it in too vigorously or build it up with multiple coats like I did.
I tried out shade 11, which was most definitely the one and looked like a second skin; my mother couldn’t even tell that I was wearing a tinted sunscreen. You may be wondering why on earth I’m slathering on sunscreen when I spend most of my time typing away on a laptop in the abyss of a sunlight-scarce bedroom. As every dermatologist and the internet will claim: sunscreen should be a vital part of your skin-care routine even if it’s pouring outside and grey clouds loom above without a single ray of sun peeping through (which is basically a synopsis of Bengaluru’s weather right now). Sandiva’s sunblock will ensure maximum protection not just from UVB rays but also UVA rays (that often make their way indoors through glass windows) owing to its PA++++ rating.
For the best results, I’d recommend using Sandiva’s SPF loose powder to seal in the sunblock – it works like magic to give the perfect finishing touch. I know a power duo when I see one.