Shrankhla Holecek, Founder of Uma, Explains How Ayurveda Applies to Modern Life
When most Westerners hear the word Ayurveda, they may associate it only with certain herbs or diets, or with panchakarma, the intense detox program that often takes place during a multi-day retreat. But many of us incorporate Ayurvedic principles and practices into our wellness routines without even realizing their connection to ancient Indian philosophy: yoga, transcendental meditation, dry brushing, tongue scratching and l oil extraction all come from Ayurveda.
Shrankhla Holecek, an engineer by training and former McKinsey consultant, grew up in India, where Ayurvedic principles were so integral to her education that she didn’t think much of it. When faced with stress-related health issues in her twenties, she returned to the practice path and created Uma, an Ayurvedic beauty brand including skin care products, supplements, perfumes. Natural aromatherapy and beauty tools can be found on Goop, The Detox Market, SSENSE and others.
While all of Uma’s products really smell and feel divine – I know at least one person who uses their Pure Calm oil instead of perfume – later this fall the brand will launch a new line called Pure Love, which incorporates Aromatherapy ingredients like Sandalwood, Jasmine and Rose to promote confidence, self-love and harmony. Here Holecek talks about her journey back to Ayurveda, the simple trick she uses to relieve a hangover face, and the facial tools she keeps by her bed.
Uma is based on Ayurvedic principles, practices and ingredients. Can you tell us about your personal connection to Ayurveda?
Ayurveda has always been part of my life, it is inherent in me instinctively and generational. I’m definitely more of a right-brained person, so it takes a little leap of faith, or just saying that there are things you can’t understand just by looking at the data. Children, my siblings and I could never wash our hair without having oiled it the night before. When we brushed our teeth, we always scraped our tongues. We did every week scrubs, which was annoying when we wanted to play outside, but our aunts and mom insisted. There were definitely Ayurvedic traditions that became part of how I thought about living life and taking care of myself as I grew up.
What role does it play in your life today?
My more cerebral connection with Ayurveda came about when I was really challenged in life. When I was a consultant in my twenties, I worked 80 hours a week, flew a lot, faced a lot of mismanaged anxiety, and wasn’t able to step back and process it. Without going into details, I fell ill. I was going by plane to a client and I ended up in the emergency room. I took back the step of faith to delve into things that were in my family, in my blood, in the actual Ayurvedic scriptures, which brought me a lot of relief when traditional medicines did not. Which isn’t to say that I don’t believe in Western medicine, I think it shines as a complement to it. For example, when you have a burning headache, take an Advil. But if you get them everyday, think about why you get them every day. Ayurveda shines when it comes to chronic illnesses for which Western medicine has no answer.
How does this philosophy translate into skin care?
The Western concept of treating the skin as an individual thing that lives on its own and does not reflect what is happening with the whole of you is completely wrong. Ayurveda understands that the skin is deeply integrated with mental and physical well-being. Often times you have skin care companies and supplement companies, and the two will never meet. Ayurveda does not take this perspective. For example, our lightening range is very focused on skin care, but it contains aromas that force you to develop a little ritual around it. It’s not something that you slap and run out of, it’s something that you want to massage, that you want to inhale. It has aromatherapy and wellness properties that require you to take care of your mental well-being. Skin care must be enjoyable, it must be ritual, it must be good and fresh ingredients, it must promote a long-term approach to personal care. It doesn’t have to supplant being shitty, for lack of a better word, for your physical and mental body.
What are some other ways that anyone can integrate Ayurveda into their daily life? How does this ancient philosophy and practice apply to our modern way of life?
Both yoga and transcendental meditation are part of Ayurveda. Also important is the concept of long-term emotional detox as well as daily detox: warm water with lemon and a capsule of triphala [a traditional Ayurvedic herbal supplement] the morning goes a long way. I also like dry brushing and self-massage to break up tensions and toxins in the body. Even breathing exercises, there are so many things that don’t cost a dime.
What have you learned from working in the skin care industry that most people don’t know?
I’ve learned to look beyond marketing and focus not only on the ingredients, but also on how they’re harvested and combined into a formula. There are so many factors that influence how your skin will react and react to a product – be sure to look beyond the vitamin C sticker and luxury labeling and dig into how and where something. is made. The more transparent a business, the more informed customers can be about their decisions.
What one skincare or makeup tip that changed your perspective on beauty?
I guess it would be that not all tips are great tips – the way that plays out for me is to personalize everything. What works for the goose doesn’t work for the gander, or something like that. What is notoriously underestimated are the effects of acids on dark skin. Acids are really well suited to skin that heals quickly without leaving scars, but the potential damage they can cause on dark skin is under-studied.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning, when it comes to care and well-being?
I have this cold water ritual going on. If I have bags – if I drank too much alcohol the night before, or if I had red eyes, or if I just ate very salty food, whatever – I spray my face with it. ‘ice water first, then lukewarm water, and I’ll alternate between the two several times. It really helps your capillaries to work harder to drain blood and pump blood which brings vitality to the skin. But it also really gets rid of the liquid that’s left there. Sometimes I do a honey cleanse, something super simple. And I take care of oral health: tongue scraping is an absolute must, and if I have the time I try to get some oil out, sometimes I do it even while I’m showering . The tongue and mouth are a hotbed of bacteria, and in fact many dermatologists have started talking about the relationship between poor oral hygiene and acne. I don’t have time for a lot of makeup, so I try to use things that are really focused and effective when I do.
When you do your makeup, what’s your super fast makeup routine?
Concealer, mascara and kohl around my eyes, it’s an Indian thing, I feel that a little kohl makes me feel presentable. The one I wear the most is an Indian Ayurvedic brand, her name is Shahnaz Husain. I also like the Lancôme one, because it holds well in the waterline and does not drool.
What does your evening routine look like?
I always cleanse twice, first with an oil cleanser to remove everything, then with our Ultimate Brightening Cleanser or Absolute Anti-Aging Cleanser. I usually also shower every night and sometimes come in with a face mask, just for the five minutes I’m there. Next, I will tone, and apply face oil. By my bedside, I have a mason jar full of tools: a gua sha, a copper kansa wand, a roller eye jade thing. While my husband and I are talking about the day, I’m going to do all of these massage things to myself. I find that now it has almost become a signal to my brain that it is time to go to sleep.
You mentioned that when you were a kid you always greased your hair before washing it. What does your hair care routine look like now?
When I go to the gym or yoga class and know I’m going to take a shower afterwards, I apply the oil to my scalp and roots first. A lot of times when I’m back in India, I make a hair mask out of random ingredients in the fridge – eggs, yogurt, whatever. I’m going to put it in my hair and then shampoo and conditioner with whatever I have. I like the Rahua line. Right now I live in Miami, where the water is notoriously bad, so sometimes I rub my scalp with half a lime or a lemon, which helps break down mineral build-up and promote renewal. cellular.
What does your ideal spa day look like?
I think a day at the spa should be as much about ‘time for me’ as it is about the treatments. It gives your body a chance to reset. Anywhere I can take a salt bath, and a hot and cold water bath between treatments is my holy grail. I am a huge believer in Himalayan salt and its detoxifying properties, so I also like a salt scrub.
Who is your beauty icon?
I’m really drawn to people who have very simplified beauty rituals and a confidence that breathes from within. Audrey Hepburn never looked like she was always wearing a lot of makeup or anything, but she always looked so amazing. And Mindy Kaling, she has incredible personality, confidence and humor.
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