Well Told With Lisa Mattam, Founder of Sahajan

Derived from the Hindi word for "intuitive," Sahajan draws from the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda to formulate evidence-based skincare products. It all started with a question founder Lisa Mattam asked herself while caring for her two-year-old daughter: “Why am I willing to put something on my skin that I wouldn’t want on my child’s?” That light bulb moment spurred her to create Sahajan—a line that combines healthy, mindful living with the 5,000-year-old ancient Indian science of Ayurveda.

For a limited time, receive Sahajan’s Brightening Mask with any purchase of $50 or more on our site.

Sahajan is a high performance skincare brand based on the ancient science of Ayurveda. For those who aren’t familiar with Ayurveda, can you offer some background?

If you’ve ever had golden milk or a turmeric latte, or you’ve taken fennel and ginger for digestion, all of those ingredients come from the ancient wellness science of Ayurveda. Translated from Sanskrit it means the science of life, and is a 5,000-year-old science from ancient India that really looks at the quality and longevity of life. Within this science are the recipes for the turmeric latte and the digestive aid, but also recipes for the skin and the hair. And it was Ayurveda that was used by the royals of India to stay beautiful and young. From all the research I’ve done, Ayurveda is the only system of wellness that really looks at the quality and longevity of life and offers plant-based, practical and intuitive lifestyle suggestions to get there.

You’ve talked about there being a defining moment with your daughter when you realized the importance of safe and natural skincare products. Can you tell us about that?

The inception for Sahajan came when my young daughter got into my skincare. She had it all over her face and I remember looking up at her and thinking she was so cute, but also being worried about the ingredients in the skincare and what they would do to her young skin. It was in that moment that I realized if my skincare wasn’t good enough for her it certainly isn’t good for me. Then I sat back and thought why did it take me so long to get here? I’d been mindful to incorporate other beautiful lifestyle and food choices and efforts to be clean in other aspects of my life, and I suspected that the reason people are late to go clean with their skincare is because we buy for results first. We buy because we don’t want to look tired or old or have acne or whatever it is, and so I wanted to create the most efficacious skincare line the way I knew how. And that was with the ancient science of Ayurveda, the one that’s 5,000 years old time tested. I combined high performance ingredients from my heritage with modern science from my career, as I come from a background in the pharmaceutical industry.  

How did you go about developing a line of products that incorporates both traditional ingredients your family had been using in India for years with clinically proven ingredients like niacinamide and hyaluronic acid?

We work with two Ayurvedic doctors in India on the formulations, so it’s critical to me that we work effectively and in an authentic way, and really honour the Ayurvedic tradition. One of those Ayurvedic doctors actually told me that with the modernization in India we’re seeing this amalgamation of beautiful plant-based Ayurvedic ingredients and modern scientific ingredients. There’s a hospital for example in India that has both MDs and Ayurvedic doctors, because the inherent belief is that there’s power and greatness when you combine the two. And that’s really what we’re endeavoring to do with our line.

You’ve received some pretty amazing accolades from magazines like Vogue and WWD. What has it meant to you for your products, which seem so personal to you and your story, to be so incredibly well received by the beauty community?

It’s been interesting to see how things have evolved. The Brightening Mask, which we’re featuring with the gift with purchase, was in O Magazine last fall, and that has had an incredible impact on the brand. Not just being in it but when people heard about it and started sharing it with others -- it’s funny how accolades hit different people at different times. Vogue Paris was one of the first news outlets outside of Canada to really highlight us, and when I got the email asking for comment I actually thought there’s no way Vogue Paris is reaching out to me. I think it says a lot about the validity of the brand, to have beauty editors who receive countless amounts of product on a day-to-day basis, that they would then choose one of our products to highlight. It speaks to the quality of the product and the openness of people to explore ingredients from other cultures that can really help them.

What’s been keeping you well these days?

Early morning walks, which are prescribed in Ayurveda. It’s so necessary to be in nature in the morning, to be moving your body and feeling alive again. When in doubt one of my feel goods is a turmeric latte when I get home, just with turmeric cinnamon, saffron and cardamom, and I put in some maple syrup. To me that’s like a warm hug from my belly. And other things that keep me well are doing a hair oil treatment -- we have a hair oil that’s amazing for strength and resilience, but the massaging of the oil for everything from balancing the crown chakra, cleaning the scalp to just letting go of all the tension in the head makes all the difference.