Born in India and raised in New York, Anit Hora embraces both big city success and traditional roots. Hora travelled the world before studying at the Aveda Institute to become a holistic esthetician and herbalist. After a short time working for others, she decided to hand-distill her own apothecary line, Mullein & Sparrow, which is now known as M.S Skincare.
M.S Skincare has all sorts of serums, moisturizers, lotions, and more, but Hora says the most important secret in skin care can’t be found in a bottle—mindful ritual. Of course, anyone taking the time to ritualize their routine is going to want the best, so this entrepreneur was happy to share the secrets she’s collected from cultures around the world while marketing her elite line of beauty products, and Magnifissance was happy to listen.
“Ritual is a secret ingredient not found in any bottle. When skin care is approached with ritual, a person implements mindfulness. It’s an act of self care each time.”
Why do you think rituals are important for skin care?
Skin, like anything else, benefits from consistency. Consistent care and consistent quality translate to a complexion that looks nourished. But ritual goes beyond consistency. It involves deep intention while caring for your skin. For those who practice holistic living, ritual is a secret ingredient not found in any bottle. When skin care is approached with ritual, a person implements mindfulness. It’s an act of self care each time. Every step is imbued with a meditative quality, making it a more holistic experience versus just rushing on some face oil and forgetting about it. Ritual is a more reverent approach to the care of your skin and the care of the self.
How do hygiene and wellness rituals differ from culture to culture, and what do they often have in common?
In terms of wellness, people tend to share the same bottom line. It’s a universal desire to feel well. For example, in India, the Ayurvedic practice of oil-pulling is widespread. It’s done by swishing one to two teaspoons of oil for five to fifteen minutes then spitting it out. It’s effective for oral health and detoxification. Americans tend to use an astringent alcohol-based mouthwash for the same desired result, so they are similar but different.
The Ayurvedic method encourages a whole-body approach when oil-pulling. It takes some getting used to and requires patience to gently swish oil around in your mouth for five to fifteen minutes, but it’s important not to rush. Slowing down and bringing attention to the act is part of it. Anxiously waiting for a timer to go off defeats the purpose. Oil-pulling detoxifies the gums, teeth, and oral cavity, just like its American counterpart, but it’s also seen as a cleanse for the whole body while preparing the mind for the day.
You’ve learned much from different cultures around the world. What are some key sources of wisdom you draw from for your own life and business?
Of course, Ayurveda and yoga are what I turn to the most, but I have a deep respect for Western herbalism and herbalism in general. When I travelled to South America and saw how much herbal medicine was used throughout their culture, it inspired me to become a certified herbalist practitioner myself. Ultimately, I think there’s great wisdom in the ancient practices and rituals of the world, but they almost always require a slower approach. The ancient ways also tend to promote love and respect. As difficult as it is for me as a modern woman and New Yorker, this is what I find most valuable for both life and business: Slow down, breathe, and approach things with a calm heart.
How did you start your business? What drove your initial passion?
It was after my South American backpacking trip that I decided to become an herbalist. Once those studies were complete, I couldn’t help but utilize what I had learned for beauty, skin, and hair concoctions. It was so enjoyable that I decided to learn more about skin and how it works. So I enrolled at the Aveda Institute in New York City to become an esthetician. Once I became an esthetician, I worked for many years at top New York spas until I realized that I felt ready to do something on my own. I made the leap, and my skin care line was conceived in a humble Brooklyn apartment around 2012.
What’s the link between skin health and other aspects of health?
No part of you exists independently. Your whole body functions as an integrated system, and skin is no exception. Sometimes people will write us asking for recommendations for skin issues, and we advise them accordingly. However, people often resist the non-topical solutions. Internal stress has external effects, and sometimes a good skin regimen won’t be much help in the face of a poor diet, or too much exercise, or living in a toxic environment, or surrounded by people that are bad company. This is why I talk about self care when I talk about skin care. Listen to your body, your heart, and act accordingly in all areas if you wish to embody holistic wellness—including healthy skin.
What are some good resources for people who want to take their skin care regimens and nutrition to the next level?
I am a fan of Dr. Vasant Lad and highly recommend looking him up for whole body wellness. And the book Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur.
With the quarantine, so many people are stuck inside worrying about the future while disconnected from one another. What wisdom and rituals do you think are most helpful for this unique moment?
Discipline is a lifesaver for me right now, since so much structure has been taken away with the quarantine and working from home. Having the discipline to maintain a routine and schedule in terms of waking up, working, moving my body, even making my bed, are all helpful for a sense of stability. Given this stressful moment we are collectively sharing, I also recommend movement. Whether it’s taking a walk or simple stretching, do something meditative to calm and connect with the body. And finally, meditate to help still the mind and spirit.