SOURCE: Apsara Skin Care Inc.

March 04, 2015 14:00 ET

Scientist in Human Genetics to Skin Care Guru: A Beautiful Journey

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwired - March 04, 2015) - Sheetal Rawal combined her desire for flawless skin using natural ingredients with her skills as a scientist in human genetics to start Apsara Skin Care, Inc. At a time when the public desire to go natural is higher than ever, Apsara Skin Care is poised to alter the way personal care is approached. Here is the unusual story of a scientist who turned into a skin care go-to expert.

"It started when I entered my pre-teen years," says Sheetal. "Of course I had no idea that my hobby would lead me anywhere outside the kitchen where I mixed up all sorts of spices & herbs to make interesting skin care potions. I used them on myself mostly." Sheetal is a scientist in human genetics and the founder of From a clinical scientist to a go-to expert in natural skin and hair care; her story is inspiring. By now she has shared thousands of homemade skin care recipes on media like radio, TV, and social sites like Facebook. Her e-book of 40 DIY skin care recipes can be downloaded here for free.

Sheetal's company and personal mission surface at a time when the collective public desire to adopt natural ingredients in personal care is higher than ever before. Apsara Skin Care presents natural skin and hair care products rooted in Ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda is a system of health & wellbeing that emerged in India over 5000 years ago.

Steve Jobs said it was easy to connect the dots when looking back at time. Also that crazy people change the world. The "crazy ones" often take crooked paths, and shake up some old ideas on the way. Sometimes without intending to. Sheetal admits that it was never her explicit goal to change how things were done in the personal care industry; rather she was simply using her intuition to work entirely differently. She had one goal: to make skin care products for her own use. They had to be safe enough to eat. That was part of the goal as well.

"I was making major changes in my diet and lifestyle. I turned vegetarian as a start, and refused to associate with anything that involved violence. Silk, pearls, leather. These are an evidence of our cruel imposition on other forms of life. This mindset of disregard  & disrespect has driven us to turn on ourselves as well. We manufacture and consume a lot of toxic material on an everyday basis and the cumulative effect is alarming. Our food, environment, and personal care products are sullied. The ruthlessness of the modern milk industry is a shame and a dark mark on humanity. There is enough evidence to prove the detriment we are causing ourselves, both moral and physiological."

As she banned processed and modified foods from her diet, tuned vegan, and simplified in general, Sheetal worked to create products for her acne-prone skin. "After coming to the United States as a graduate student of molecular biology, my skin changed. I began to have consistent acne. One spot fading and a new one forming. Not major, but given my obsession with perfect skin, very pesky indeed. I had never had acne in Delhi except a hormonal zit now and then. As my research and experimentation with Ayurvedic ingredients continued, it became clear that a combination of low humidity in CA and products made with very harsh active chemical ingredients had kept me in a perpetual acne cycle for much longer than necessary. Also that there were dozens of natural ingredients that could safely get my skin out of this cycle."

Sheetal realized she had an inborn familiarity with natural ingredients. She worked as though picking up from where she had left off in a past life. Something like that. This time around, however, a pinch of this and a pinch of that wasn't going to cut it. She wanted to create reproducible formulations and eliminate variations from jar to jar. This is where her lab skills played in.

Sheetal worked in the genetics industry for over 7 years, and for some very reputable names. Towards the end of this time her own kitchen resembled a lab with essential oils, herbal extracts, waxes, tinctures and other natural booty neatly stowed away in kitchen cabinets and drawers. "I was very good in the DNA lab, but under-stimulated. I felt a lack of fulfillment in my job description. It was repetitive, tightly monitored; I worked using cutting edge technology to tell patients if they carried a certain disease-causing gene; or what the risk of their future child inheriting a causative gene was. The latter involved a whole genome lookup so to speak. There is no room for creativity when real people are waiting for life changing results.  It was a matter of following protocols. I might have made a move to a more research and development-heavy side of genetics. But the cards held something else altogether. As my concoctions in the home-lab materialized into ones with real potential, I felt my heart drawn towards continuing to formulate. So I continued. The kitchen was now too small. Two large rooms in my house were converted. One into a lab; an adjacent one into inventory storage. The garage held non-perishable inventory. I quit my day job and eventually moved into a real lab and office space."

Early on in her kitchen, Sheetal invented a serum (Jojoba Facial Serum) and a face mask (Sulfur Facial Mask) for her own use, and in short order her acne was gone. Her skin looked radiant. "People tell me I am the best ad for my company." Within a year of serious play, Apsara Skin Care. Inc. was born.

Next steps emerged without any deliberation. The first website was very basic; with a single product for sale and a lot of information. "I made the website using a readymade template. I wasn't going to hire anyone. It was too early for that. And I am very frugal anyway." When the unique product count neared 30, a more serious e-commerce site was necessary. When the very first order of a Sulfur Facial Mask came in, Sheetal rushed home early from work to make it! "The formula was ready, but the product was not. I made a lot of six. I was ecstatic."

Sheetal started marketing her company on radio and social media. In her expert segments on radio in California and Texas, she educates people on the importance of natural personal care, answers listener questions live, and shares recipes of DIY facial masks. She won't make a product recommendation unless directly asked. Or if the context absolutely calls for it. "Selling product is not my priority. Building a relationship with people is; I like to help and inspire people to go natural in all areas of life. Sales happen automatically." Sheetal sets aside time everyday to answer skin care questions submitted via the Personalized Skin Care Advice form on the website. She hopes to continue doing this for as long as possible.

Apsara Skin Care, Inc. has a fan count of nearly 65,000 on Facebook (as this article is written), and the engagement is awesome. A large proportion of revenue is via word-of-mouth sales. Women love their Apsara routines and become the satisfied marketeers for the company. There are hundreds of product reviews on the website from happy users. In 2014, Apsara Skin Care crossed the break-even point and brought in a very healthy revenue. Based on data collected over the past 3 years, things look very good, especially the percentages of new visits to the site and of repeat customers. "Apsara is projected to grow in an extremely healthy manner," Sheetal says. "The numbers look very exciting."

When asked to name the most satisfying aspect of this journey, Sheetal replies, "Hearing from users that their skin is radiant after going natural with Apsara. And that their skin and hair concerns have resolved. They tell me they are never going back to using run-of-the-mill products filled with harsh chemicals. I would like them all to look and feel like Apsaras (sanskrit word meaning a woman of unsurpassed beauty)."

The company mission is well summed up in its tagline: Go natural. It is good karma!

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