The mention of a green bar of bathing soap containing Ayurvedic ingredients usually brings only one name to mind – Medimix. A brand trusted by people throughout the country, Medimix began its journey with the simple, yet immensely effective handmade bathing soap. While most are familiar with this fact, not many know about the journey. Today, Medimix offers herbal hair conditioners, an effective Neem hand wash, face washes for oily skin, and a lot more in its wide range of products.
Here’s how it all began…….
A Humble Ayurvedic Beginning
In the 1960s, an allopathic doctor in Chennai was working for the Indian Railways. Amongst his patients were also conservancy workers, who are labourers engaged in manually cleaning the tracks, working without sufficient protective gear back then. These workers were plagued with an array of skin ailments.
The doctor, though trained in modern medicine, came from an illustrious and respectable lineage of Ayurvedic practitioners in Thrissur, Kerala. He offered Ayurvedic oils to the conservancy workers to help deal with their skin troubles. Eventually, he decided to incorporate these oil blends in a bar of soap, making them easy to use for everyone. This Indian Railways employee was Dr. VP Sidhan, and the Ayurvedic soap he produced in his house is what people know today as ‘Medimix’.
From Kitchen to Factory
Medmix is rooted in humble beginnings that reflect in its ‘handmade’ status, even today. How did the soap move from the kitchen to the factory, and to all over the world today?
Once Dr. Sidhan started handmaking the soap in his house for conservancy workers, he knew the soap could help more people. It was then labelled as a ‘prescription only’ soap and was made available in pharmacies. Soon enough, everyone was talking about the qualities of the handmade soaps, and that is when the green, prescription-only soap began its transition into ‘Medimix’ as we know it today.
In 1969, the soap was launched as Medimix and the company was called Cholayil, after the family that Dr. Sidhan hailed from. Even when being produced in a factory, the soap was made by hand. It was done mostly because they could not afford to invest in the machinery.
With radio and billboard advertising in the early 1970s, Medimix was quickly taking its place as the go-to ayurvedic soap in South India. An anecdote suggests that Tamil filmmaker K. Balachander once referred to Medimix as a superstar when saying that he had introduced two superstars through his film Apoorva Raagangal. Released in 1975, this was actor Rajinikanth’s first movie, and the lead female portrayed a character who was a Medimix salesperson.
The product also started becoming popular with hotels, guest houses, and other such institutions that would purchase it in bulk for their patrons. So popular was the handmade, Ayurvedic green soap for skin problems that it was Cholayil’s only product for over a decade.
From Chennai to the World
The company continued to grow with its green soap. With the next generation bringing in more scope for growth in the late 1990s, the company acquired the Cuticura brand in 2001. This set the precedent for the development of new products and brands under the Cholayil umbrella.
An amicable split between Dr. Sidhan’s son and son-in-law saw further growth for Medmix in the wider Indian market, especially north, as well as internationally. While AVA Cholayil Healthcare looks after the South India market, the rest of India and exports are handled by Cholayil Pvt. Ltd. The product is shared by both companies.
Having completed over 50 years, the soap is now one of the popular ones in various Indian regional markets. What may astonish some people is that it is still handmade for the most part, thus staying true to its origins.
Adapting to the 21st Century
The companies have both ventured into expanding their presence with products designed to suit the present-day needs and demands. Cholayil Pvt. Ltd. now has not only a range of soap addressing specific concerns, but also body washes, face washes, ayurvedic shampoo and hygiene products.
Along with Ayurvedic skin care products, Medimix has also developed a range of hair care products that include shampoos and conditioners meant for different hair types and hair problems. All Medimix skincare and haircare products are based on Fast Acting Ayurveda and have been enriched with herbs that are meant to address specific concerns such as dry skin, acne, and more.
Staying True to Its Roots
Medimix soap, the original green soap, which is now known for its 18 herbs, has always been and is still one of the primary and important products designed by Cholayil. Its popularity as an Ayurvedic soap has only seen growth in its early days in Chennai, as well as when it moved into new territories. Being handmade, use of natural glycerine, and making little-to-no changes to what it offers speaks volumes about the brand.
Medimix is still advancing as can be seen from its new Ayurvedic face care and body care products. Catering to the new age needs with innovative products comes easily for Medimix as it looks to address more specific concerns about skincare and haircare.