Shen spotlight: Q&A with Uma Oils
Posted on May 16 2016
Q: What was your inspiration for starting UMA?
Well, there were really three main inspirations:
When I moved to the United States about ten years ago, I witnessed first-hand the plethora of low quality/diluted essential oil products that inundated the market, and that customers were paying ridiculously high premiums for them! Having grown up in a family that has farmed and manufactured essential oils for generations, I knew that we could guarantee the purity of the ingredients harvested at my family’s estate. I believed that UMA would resonate with every customer that cared (and deserved!) to know about exactly where the ingredients in her skincare were coming from. I mean – how is it that you can go to the farmer’s market and find out exactly where your $2/lb tomatoes come from, but you don’t have the same option for your $150/oz. skincare! This is the degree of transparency and accountability I wanted to create for customers through UMA.
Second, I was taken aback by the abundance of misconceptions about Ayurveda in the western world. The eastern science of Ayurveda, as well as the benefits of essential oils, deliver natural, powerful results – all backed by science. However, I found that perception of them was shrouded in mysticism and a general ignorance, often giving Ayurvedic remedies a bad rep. Therefore, UMA has always been very focused on educating people about the Ayurvedic science behind our products.
Finally, I wanted to create products that signified “luxury” in the truest sense – not the kind where bells and whistles are added to drive up the perception of a product’s value! To the Uma family, the highest form of luxury and respect is the investment of time and the use of only the rarest, purest ingredients. That is why our products are always handcrafted in small batches; even the bottles are hand-blown and engraved by hand. The UMA 6 Point Wellness Oil Therapy is also meant to give people the ultimate luxury – making the commitment of their own time for their complete wellness. That stems from the age-old definitions of luxury in India, so I wanted to incorporate that into UMA.
Q: Tell us a little more about where you source your essential oils. I heard all ingredients are sourced from your family’s farm. How long has your family had these sustainable farms?
My family has been growing oils on the estate for generations - literally. In fact, my ancestors were Ayurvedic scientists who created beauty and wellness concoctions for Indian royalty. My family has carefully and dutifully handed down their expertise, and today only 5 people in the world know the exact formulations for our oils. Today, the UMA Estate supplies the likes of Estée Lauder and Tom Ford, while continuing our sustainable, small batch farming techniques.
Q: What makes UMA different from other face and wellness essential oils that are on the market?
The key differentiation between our oils - and many (all?) natural beauty brands in general - is that we are completely vertically integrated. The entire process, from the organic growing, to the harvesting, to the extraction and blending process is managed by one estate (ours). This means we can entirely control the quality of our essential oils from start to finish. Most of our competitors purchase oils from external sources where the quality cannot be verified. This means their consumers are often using products with diluted essential oils and are none the wiser. Not only can we ensure the integrity of our ingredients; we also can stand behind our workers who all have expertise and degrees in Ayurvedic science. This combination allows us to create truly effective products that bring Ayurvedic remedies to modern day.
In addition, UMA Oils is a company that truly respects the community and environment our products come from. Our farming practices are pesticide-free and we repurpose and recycle our waste to minimize our environmental footprint. In addition, we foster a number of gender equality initiatives, as well as programs to help our staff and community with basic needs.
Q: What is your favorite essential oil and how do you use it?
I absolutely adore sandalwood oil, and to be honest, this has a lot to do with the luxury it represents. Sandalwood farming was actually banned 300 years ago by an Indian king who believed the oil was only fit for royalty! Although regulations have been somewhat lifted today, the oil is still extremely rare due to the long process necessary for growing sandalwood.
It is an incredible ingredient in face oils because of its amazing luminosity boosting powers, and it has a wonderful scent. I love to massage it on my face, and like spending a few minutes every day creasing out fine lines on my face while applying oil.
Q: Any advice for those who want to get into using face oils but have never tried?
We recommend selecting oils based on your specific skincare concerns to start. Check out our handy guide to which oils work best for specific needs here. If you’re still conflicted, we recommend starting with a lightweight oil. Many people often incorrectly use face oils when they first start because they are used to using creams and moisturizers. The correct application is to drop 2-3 drops on your palm and rub your palms together. Then gently pat (don’t rub - this is only necessary with thicker products, like creams, which don’t easily absorb) the oils around your face. You can apply in the evening or morning, or both! Try gradually introducing them into your routine in order to determine what works for you.
Q: One question we get a lot from customers pertains to the order of applying face oils- before moisturizing or after? What is your recommendation for applying your face oils?
Keep in mind the "lightest to heaviest" rule of skincare. The oils can be worn over many very light moisturizers and serums, but should be worn under thicker products like creams or heavy moisturizers. Of course, the oils can stand alone in your skincare routine as well (something a majority of UMA users have come to do!). Face oils can also be worn under makeup, and can actually help enhance the appearance of makeup (read our tips on using face oil to enhance makeup here). We also always recommend the use of sunscreen and that should be applied over the oils (or at the end of your regimen).
Q: One great thing about UMA is that it also gives back to its employees. Can you share with us how you support and encourage your workers?
We do our best to foster gender equality in our workforce, something that is sadly lacking in India. We employ a workforce of over 50% women and ensure they receive a fair salary that allows them to be independent. We have a number of other community initiatives, like free health and childcare, education, and retirement planning guidance for all our staff members –because we want to empower women to be able to get out of their homes and remain viably employed, and realize that sometimes this infrastructure is critical to truly enabling them to become and remain financially independent.
Q: UMA’s wellness oils have an unusual and almost ceremonious application process. Can you explain a little more about the ritual of applying them to your body?
It’s definitely unique, which is why it is a patent-pending ritual. Basically, it’s structured to maximally trigger the transdermal (through the skin) and the olfactory (through the sense of smell which is directly connected to the limbic brain) effects of essential oils. Our expert team spent years perfecting this ritual to harness the most power from essential oils in the shortest amount of time – knowing all too well how busy many of our wonderful customers are!
The ritual starts by massaging the oil between the toes (where the skin is very thin) and onto the bottom of the feet, then moves to the wrists, forehead and behind the ears and finally ends on five deep inhales with your hands cupped over your nose, while the aromas still linger on your hands.
Q: What’s next for UMA? Any exciting new launches coming up?
We have several very exciting launches coming up! We are launching several face masks in June and a body oil. Stay tuned!