Rana Good is the founder of Naïra NYC. A writer for publications such as Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Coveteur, Mens Journal and others, she created her own platform celebrating women of color.
Most of us spend ample time shampooing and conditioning our hair but pay little attention to our hair’s source, the scalp. That’s something sister founders Shaz and Kiku Chauduri want to change with their new line of pre-washes, Shaz & Kiks. Their product, which features 20 nutrient-rich Indian herbs, oils, and flowers helps nourish your hair from root to tip before you even get into the shower. You apply the product to your scalp and tresses for 20 minutes prior, stimulating your follicles, balancing oil, and protecting your locks before you start shampooing. “We wanted to build something for a healthy body and mind,” says Kiku Chauduri.
I spoke with her about why everyone could use a little more scalp love, how her grandmother inspired this ayurvedic-based product and what it’s like to go into business with your sister.
How did you get into beauty?
Kiku Chaudhuri: In my past life, I worked at Condé Nast leading digital strategy for brands like Vogue and GQ. I was closely aligned with fashion, lifestyle, and beauty. Privately, I’ve always been a fan of beauty. As children, we would visit our maternal grandmother in India and she was so knowledgeable about ayurvedic philosophies and products, from nutrition to body care. She would create handmade ayurvedic beauty products from ingredients in her kitchen and garden. I loved it and became her student learning about botanicals, the power of plants, and how they can help our bodies.
Two years ago, my sister and I started conceptualizing the products for Shaz & Kiks. We didn’t have practice in manufacturing beauty products, so it’s been a beautiful learning process. We approached it from a personal and cultural perspective. For example, there’s no perfume or synthetic fragrance in our products because that’s the ethos of our brand. The goal is for it to be reparative, nourishing, and give scalp health.
Why did you focus on scalp care with your product and why did you create two versions?
Scalp care is becoming more important as a category but it’s not new to us, we were taught this by our grandma. Your scalp is where your hair actually grows from so you need to keep it healthy. Follicles are the only living part of your hair, which is why before washing and conditioning you should prep them and feed them with nutrients. When you add oil to dry hair it really helps strengthen it from the inside. That’s why this scalp product became our hero product.
Why did you create two versions of your product?
We wanted Shaz & Kiks to be inclusive and cater to different types of hair and realized one mask couldn’t treat all types of hair. Now we have one product for dry, curly or frizzy hair and one for hair that’s thin or flat. They have different needs.
What are some of the effects of using the pre-wash?
There are some things we consistently hear in terms of feedback. People say their scalp is strong and balanced. The product removes excess oils but keeps the natural oils that are necessary for your scalp. A lot of products in western beauty really strip oil from your skin and then it goes into overproduction and you get an oily scalp. For individuals with oilier roots, they report that they have to wash their hair less because the product helps balance oiliness. Another thing we hear a lot is that people see less hair in the drain after using the product. The oils help create a protective shield around the hair — as we all know; wet hair is at its weakest. It’s like a raincoat over your strands. We also hear “my hair feels soft but not weighed down.” This pre-wash helps you get that soft, flexible hair that isn’t heavy.
You have a unique list of ingredients, what are they?
We have over 20 ayurvedic herbs, oils, and flowers. To pick a few:
Reetha and Shikakai
These two ingredients are natural alternatives to surfactants, they’re high in saponin a.k.a soap. They’re gentle and take away any excess oil but keep natural oils. They’re relatively unknown outside of South Asian region.
Turmeric Root Oil and Amla oil
These are natural blood stimulants. They’re super light but the chemical compound increases your circulation and your blood flows to wherever you apply it. It’s important for scalp health because when your scalp is stimulated that’s when it’s able to soak in nutrients and oxygen which helps it function properly.
This oil mimics the natural oil your skin produces. It’s so complementary and nourishes your hair from the inside. Your hair stays a lot stronger because it absorbs less water.
Who are your hair crushes?
Tracy Ellis Ross, I love her! She has fun with her hair and is also very knowledgeable about her hair type. She’s been such a good advocate for the natural hair community and different hair textures. She also just has so much fun with her hairstyles.
What are some of your favorite beauty rituals/treatments?
My favorite morning ritual is to brush my teeth and scrape my tongue with a stainless steel scraper. It’s very common in South Asian communities. There’s a lot of bacteria that happens overnight — you’re not cleaning your month until you clean your tongue. You get a lot less bad breath after, trust me.
I really like combing my scalp and my hair strands with a wooden comb which is more gentle than plastic. It helps your blood flow going and get energized. This helps me distribute my natural oils throughout my hair
I also love dry brushing and taking a cold shower. This is really good for blood circulation and it wakes me up.
These are all ayurvedic practices. I didn’t do them when I was younger but now in my 30s beauty is more about having a good mental state and good vibes. These rituals help me get there.
What’s it like working together as sisters?
We’ve been incredibly close since we were little. She’s almost nine years older than me, she’s the balanced, even-keel older sister and I was the hyperactive younger one. We have a really similar work ethic which has been really great. We want to be as authentic and honest as possible with Shaz & Kiks, care about things like sustainability and production cycle. We respect one another and approach things in a respectful way. Shaz & Kiks has become a family business and brings an added level of joy.