The phrase ‘beauty comes in all shapes and sizes’ couldn’t hold truer for a populous and diverse country such as India. Thanks to globalisation and the merging of various demographics within and without, looking good doesn’t cost a pretty penny anymore. In fact, India has emerged as the second-most affordable destination for beauty treatments and products in the world, as per a recent survey by Linio, a Latin American e-commerce firm.
After conducting the survey in 50 countries, Linio’s Beauty Price Index 2017 listed Vietnam, India, South Africa, Thailand and Egypt as the five cheapest destinations for overall cosmetics and beauty services. Venezuela, which is currently hit by inflation, is the costliest, followed by Northern Europe, Australia and the United States.
Interestingly, experts say that traditional procedures and treatments in these top five countries create a whole new sector of service within the beauty and cosmetics industry. Shahnaz Husain, a pioneer of Ayurvedic beauty products, says, “Thailand is known for its traditional ingredients, oils and massages while the traditional Ayurvedic treatments such as Panchkarma, Dhara and Kairali massage attract tourists from abroad to India.”
Not only this, the Indian home-made face packs made out of turmeric, rose water and Multani mitti (Multani soil) cost a mere Rs 50 and can be used twice a week, thereby making personal care affordable for the middle class.
Globalisation, the communications revolution and rising middle classes have made these countries the cheapest markets for cosmetics and beauty treatments. “The beauty business is growing at 20 per cent in India, which is twice that in Europe and the US. The rise in working middle-class women has led to the expansion of the cosmetics market, particularly in India,” says Ms Husain.
She says rising awareness of global beauty trends and increasing disposable incomes are spurring the growth of the cosmetic retail sector at an even faster pace in Tier 2 and 3 cities. The growing number of malls in even the smallest of towns is evidence enough.
Price sensitivity, particularly among Indian consumers, is another factor that makes these markets cheaper. Ms Husain says the Indian beauty market generally comprises low-priced beauty products and services, keeping in mind the value-conscious nature of consumers.
Dr Meenakshi Agarwal, a cosmetic surgeon, has a different view. She says, “I find the rates of cosmetics services to be high because the products are high-priced.” She agrees that growing beauty consciousness has been attracting people not only from metros as well as small towns.
One wonders why, then, this price sensitivity does not influence our B-townies to get that ‘fresh-from-vacay’ look here at home for a much better deal?
“Status,” says renowned hairstylist, Jawed Habib. “The Indian mentality is such that if one has the money, one prefers travelling abroad to maintain a style status.”
Dr Agarwal cites privacy as another reason. “Unlike Hollywood, Bollywood is quite secretive about cosmetic surgeries. So celebrities use their time abroad for vacationing while their face and body settle post-surgery,” she says.
Is quality compromised by the low prices? Mr Habib says, “Price consciousness does not mean that people will settle for anything less in terms of quality. There is a lot of experience that industry experts and specialists carry with them to keep quality intact.”
Dr Agarwal agrees. “India has many well qualified and experienced cosmetic surgeons. Besides, with governing entities like the FDA, and growing technology, maintaining quality is a must.”
Beauty Range (Ranking by Linio’s Beauty Price Index 2017)
- Cheapest countries in the world for cosmetic surgery, beauty treatments and products:
- Vietnam, 2. India, 3. South Africa, 4. Thailand, 5. Egypt
- Costliest countries in the world for beauty treatments and products: Venezuela, which is hit by inflation, is the costliest, followed by Northern Europe, Australia and the United States.
Factors contributing to cheap markets
- Price sensitivity
- No major difference in quality compared to countries where costs are high
- Traditional treatments
- Growing number of working middle-class women
Celebs who went under the knife
Karan Johar (nose job)
Iggy Azalea (breast implant)
Ryan Gosling (rhinoplasty)
Nicole Kidman (botox)
Tom Cruise (facelift, dental job)
Patrick Dempsy (rhinoplasty)
Megan Fox (lip injections)
Simon Cowell (botox)
Meg Ryan (cheek grafting)