UMA was named after your aunt, what about her inspired you to formulate this line?
Uma was named after my dear aunt. A truly remarkable woman, who played an integral role in raising my sister and me. She was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, inside and out, and I hope to honor her with a brand that celebrates her generous spirit and indomitable sense of self. I never saw her wear make-up, and yet she looked radiant until the day she died. Our brand celebrates the Uma in each of us, our ability to find peace amidst chaos, to balance our complex ambitions with our most fundamental emotions, and to find contentment in the knowledge that everything we need is already within us. My aunt taught me that true beauty is found in simplicity, integrity and equilibrium, and our brand strives to honor her by ensuring every drop of our oil consists of the same.
Can you tell us more about the estate UMA oils come from? A majority of our plants are grown at our estate in Central India (we also grow a limited amount in Northern and Southern India where the terrain is more suitable for certain plans in our portfolio). All of the plants used for UMA are grown on a 100-acre family-owned meadow that was chosen for its nutrient-rich soil (my family farms about 400-500 acres but UMA uses only a portion of the essential oils the estate produces). A dedicated team of caretakers selects only the finest seeds and then nurse the plants through the growing season. While many crop growers harvest the same plant multiple times to produce as much oil as possible, at Uma we harvest each plant no more than two times before replanting, because we have learned that the first two harvests generate the highest quality essential oils, and that their potency declines after the second harvest. This results in a lower yield, but far superior oils.
What parts of Ayurveda do you think people could benefit from incorporating into their daily lives? What rituals do you incorporate in your daily life? Ayurveda lays a high emphasis on using detoxes to find balance. This includes both physical detoxes (that we’re more familiar with) as well as emotional detoxes (that many of us forget to consider; e.g., suppressing emotions is believed to be a creator of toxins in the body, most often leading to anxiety and panic as a result). In the realm of physical detoxes, they don’t have to be extreme, periodic exercises in self-inflicted torture. I try to integrate some straightforward, but surefire, daily detox tips (with roots in Ayurveda). I start my day with scraping my tongue after brushing. As often as I can, I practice oil pulling (I do it while I’m showering, so it saves me time) using sesame or coconut oil (and remembering not to spit the oil into the drain!). Finally, I dry brush for about 5-7 minutes before showering, starting with the back of my legs and going all the way to my back. There’s simply no better way to cleanse your lymphatic system (and fight cellulite!). Diet wise, the first thing I consume is a cup of warm lemon water, and add triphala at nighttime when I need that added boost of detox!
Your ancestors were the Ayurvedic physicians for the royal family in India for centuries, what knowledge have you drawn from them to formulate UMA? Ayurveda philosophies dictate all the practices within our product lifecycle, from our farming methods to the actual formulas in our products. According to Ayurveda, a close relationship exists between human and the universe we exist in, of which nature is a key part, and has long been held in a place of reverence. Ayurveda dictates that we give back in equal part what we take from the environment, a mantra we closely follow. This is why our farming and distillation processes are designed for sustainability, and have been since our inception. We completely avoid synthetic pesticides and additives, and convert most of our waste into consumer products, like incense, or alternative fuel to power our distilleries.
All of our products are created using the very same centuries-old Ayurvedic formulas passed down within my family from generation to generation in utter secrecy. Uma oils are blended with the closest attention paid to each ingredient’s interaction with different elements of the face and body. Ingredients with potent individual properties are combined to multiply the positive effects they deliver alone. These are the very same formulas we developed for Indian royalty 800 years ago and are now available to you in an intimate, truly luxurious format.
What is the process between the moment the ingredients are harvested, to the moment a customer receives the product? Once the plants move from the meadow to the factory, they are greeted by the team of dedicated and skilled technicians and extractors, who shepherd the plants through the distillation process. On average, our plants take about 18 months to mature and the extraction process takes roughly 3 months after they are harvested.
Once we have the distilled essential oils, my family personally blends them (on account of the secrecy of the formulas; only five people in the world know the actual formulas of our oils) into the “active portion” of the blend (essential oils only). They are then blended into the carrier oil, hand-poured into each handblown, hand-decorated UMA bottle, and delivered to the customer by our very capable team (who frankly has become an extension of the family!).
Because the oils never leave our stewardship from when they were a seed in the ground until they are a drop of oil in a customer’s palm, we can say with confidence that Uma oils are some of the highest quality essential oils ever created.
Very few companies have our standards of purity when it comes to essential oils production, and consumers are often none the wiser. We use the most sophisticated technology available for extracting our essential oils, which often comes with a higher price tag, but we believe that the pristine quality of our oils more than makes up for that additional investment.
The wellness oils seem like such unique product. What is the idea behind the them? What is the best way to use them? Uma’s Wellness Oils are highly targeted, therapeutic blends that leverage generations of Ayurvedic expertise to manage frustrating modern ailments, such as anxiety, low energy or difficulty going to bed. Our in-house experts blend 100% organic essential oils in exacting proportions, for botanical remedies that rival their traditional counterparts, without the harmful side effects. Distinct from our line of face oils or traditional massage oils, wellness oils are applied to specific pressure points within the body, and given the high concentration of therapeutic essential oils, you only require 3-5 drops at a time.
We choose from over thirty essential oils, each with its own unique characteristics, and blend each combination to perfection. These essential oils are carried in nutrient-rich, absorbent oils like jojoba oil and evening primrose oil, so they may rapidly penetrate the skin. Once in the bloodstream, active compounds work directly with the brain and nervous system to restore balance and counteract irregularities. Our wellness oils are also deeply sensory, stimulating the nasal function, and triggering smell receptors in the brain’s limbic system, to better regulate emotion and memory.
We recommend the following technique: start with 4-5 drops of oils and rub in between your toes and the bottoms of your feet. Move up to your wrists, behind your ears, your temples and end with five deep inhales with your hands cupped over your nose. This technique helps the rapid absorption of the essential oils into your bloodstream, as well as to harmonize the body through the aromatherapeutic pathways via inhalation.