Meet Namrata Sandhu and Valentina Santamaria of Nalen Ayurveda

Working long, hard days and feeling burnt out are fairly common, relatable occurrences in our modern times. Namrata Sandhu and Valentina Santamaria, however, used their experiences to explore older Indian traditions that promote balanced and healthy living. They founded Nalen Ayurveda based on their belief in natural ingredients and in the holistic mind-body-soul uniting systems of Ayurveda. Their goal is to promote a way of life focused on balance and happiness through simplicity and transparency. 

portrait photos of two women with dark hair in front of light walls wearing a blue jacket and a white t-shirt

 

Hello, Namrata and Valentina. Can you share with us how Nalen Ayurveda was born? What were some of the questions you were asking yourselves when you decided to take the leap and start a business of your own?

Namrata: We met in London, where we both previously lived and became friends. In a twist of irony a few years later, we both left London at the same time: Valentina moved to Barcelona while I moved to Berlin. 

We continued to meet frequently and talk about how we were both burnt out from working a lot, and wanted to find ways to engage with older Indian traditions to live a healthy and balanced life.  We started Nalen Ayurveda not just as a skincare brand but also to promote a way of life, that focuses on inner well-being and happiness.

Starting our own business was so much harder than we anticipated—imagine the hardest it can be, then multiply that by ten! While it was tough going, the big upside in creating something that is really close to your heart and that you believe in, is the sense of satisfaction you get from it. It’s quite unlike any other. 

We are strong believers in natural ingredients and in Ayurveda, one of the oldest health systems in the world for harmonising mind-body-soul. There are so many benefits for our everyday life that are still underutilized. 

 

 overhead shot of Ayurveda natural ingredients like turmeric rose petals lemon neem leaves in bowls with a wooden spoon

 

Skincare has become so complex and daunting: What are the most common conceptions about it you’d like to change?

Namrata: One of the primary inspirations for starting Nalen Ayurveda was to simplify skincare.  Purchase a new item requires so much research on the ingredients and what they are, assuming that all the ingredient information is available. We wanted to create skincare that people can trust by providing honest and transparent information on what’s inside every product. All our products are made with organic ingredients and are vegan.  We list every single ingredient used, both on the website and on our packaging.

We wanted to move away from this daunting aspect of skincare, and also the number of products you’re expected to use daily to help protect and nourish your skin. We spent a lot of time on research and selected the most potent Ayurvedic ingredients to ensure that just a few products would be all our customers would need for their skin. Even if you use just one Nalen Ayurveda product daily, we wanted to ensure that it has strong benefits. 

Ultimately, we wanted to create products we wanted to use. We made our products for ourselves, our friends and our families. 

 

overhead shot of printed blue labels and cardboard packaging tubes on a der with a cutting mat and scalpel

 

How can we, as consumers, look past labels and hyped-up messages to understand better what we need, and pick and choose correctly when it comes to skincare?

Namrata: There are so many labels, certifications and regulations when it comes to skincare. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet other than doing your research: Research different brands and when you find one you trust, try sticking with their products. The only way to know what works for youto try the products and see how your skin reacts and feels. Chemicals do have a role to play in preservation and also offer some benefits, but as far as possible try and use products that have fewer chemicals. 

 

overhead shot of printed blue labels and cardboard packaging tubes on a der with a cutting mat and scalpel

 

How has Ayurveda impacted your lives thus far—and why is it such a vital part of your philosophy?

Namrata: Ayurveda has played a role in my skincare, eating and general lifestyle as far as I can remember. Being from India meant that it was integrated into my life in ways I didn’t understand until I left home. I’ve been putting natural masks on my skin and using oils to moisturize since I was young. The purpose of starting Nalen was to bring back these ancient traditions and philosophy of Ayurveda. It’s deeply entrenched in everything we do, both with our products as well as the lifestyle we want to help people live. 

Valentina: I’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle and have been interested in disease prevention. As a health care professional of western medicine, I realised the system wasn’t enough and there was definitely a major component in our minds that expresses diseases. I decided to complement my western medicine with a holistic approach and found myself captivated by the magic of Ayurveda. 

 

two young women with dark hair taking a selfie and three young women wearing black tee shirts posing with skincare products

 

Nalen Ayurveda lives between Berlin and Barcelona. On a practical level, how do you ladies make the magic happen? Do you have any rules or practices for working together and apart?

Namrata: Being in different locations has been both good and bad. It’s meant we’ve been able to focus on creating communities where each of us lives, which has been great in increasing awareness about Nalen Ayurveda. The downside has been that COVID-19 has made it very hard to meet or work together. We usually spend a few weeks every 2 months together, either in Berlin or Barcelona working on developing products and new ideas, but this year has been especially hard with the distance. 

 

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Interview: Vatsala Murthy, Images: Nalen Ayurveda

 

 

 

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