Yasmin Khan, Founder of Khalm, on Why Oud Is the Ingredient Missing From Your Skin-Care Routine
Yasmin Khan grew up in Pakistan surrounded by the smell of oud, a woodsy yet sweet-smelling essential oil. Now, it’s the star ingredient in her recently-launched clean skin-care brand, Khalm. Here, Khan discusses the inspiration behind the unisex brand, the skin-care benefits of oud and redefining self-care rituals in the time of COVID-19.
When did you get into skin care and beauty?
I had a 20-year struggle with hirsutism, a condition that causes excessive hair growth. When I was younger, I wanted to cover up my skin. This worked for a bit, then I turned to laser hair removal. It solved the problem, but it took years.
In my 30s, I turned to French skin care in an effort to maintain my skin. I was looking for gentle products because my skin had gone through the torture of tweezing, plucking, threading and hair removal.
At the end of the day, my love of beauty came from my disease. Now, I look at skin care as my armor.
What influenced you to start Khalm?
I supported my husband through medical school, residency and fellowship. But then I didn't have anything that I could claim as my own. I saw many women leading businesses and knew I wanted to be a part of that narrative as a woman of color. I reflected and realized that what would make me happy was to get into the beauty world because I knew so much about it.
When I got this idea, I researched a lot. Nobody was doing clean, oud-based skin care formulated at a high quality. To add oud, which has natural anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and aromatherapy benefits, to skin care just made sense to me.
When thinking about the line, I knew I wanted it to be focused around oud. When I was in Karachi, Pakistan as a child, my parents would light incense in our home and we would smell it when we went to temples. As an adult, my husband and I light it for our children. It’s a smell that lends itself to inclusivity for men and women. I wanted this line to be something that could be part of couples' skin-care journeys, as well as individuals.
Is there an ethos that you’ve tried to keep at the core of the brand as it’s grown?
We focus a lot on rituals. We're redefining what the skin-care ritual has been and now more than ever with COVID-19, indulging in rituals are so important. Your ritual will make or break you. Oud lends itself to this idea because it’s been involved in rituals for centuries.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since launching Khalm?
For me, a challenge has been going to business school while running a business. Entrepreneurship is very different from business school and I’ve just recently understood that. I realized that my intuition has taken me this far and no business school is going to give me the tools that I have inside of me.
Fill in the blanks:
My first memory of beauty is: Seeing my mom’s wedding picture. She had on a full face of makeup, an Indian Sari and her wedding jewelry. It’s forever etched in my memories.
To me, beauty means: Power, growth and metamorphosis.