I sat two desks away from Nikita Charuza as a beauty assistant. We bonded over what most of us do in this industry—products. As we grew closer, sharing makeup and skincare tips over Slack and in the lunchroom became the norm. Since then, Charuza became a mom to a beautiful baby girl and the creator of a new brand that goes by Squigs. And like the good ol' days, I couldn't wait to sit and talk about it.
Charuza has been quietly working on the launch of Squigs for the past four years. The passion-project-turned-beauty-brand was born out of a desire for straightforward products without irritation or intimidation. "I've always dreamed of starting my own brand," Charuza tells me. "After having my daughter, I felt the push to follow my dreams and see what happens—even if that meant only selling one product or making one person happy."
After testing tons of skincare and hair care products, Charuza noticed many lacked long-term quality and purpose. "My husband and sister both have severe eczema and the slightest whiff of fragrance would cause a flare-up," she says. "I couldn't use certain products I loved because I had to be mindful of them."
The Brand Story
Right away, Charuza knew she wanted to steer clear of irritating ingredients. With her heart set on key two products, Squigs was born. Before the formuals and the fun printed packaging, "squig" was a term of endearment shared by Charuza and her sister. "It's something we'd sign off with when we spoke to each other," she tells me. "We'd say 'I love you squig,' and it stuck with me. I wanted the brand to have that lighthearted feeling like talking to your friend or sister."
Charuza and her team formulated two products to remind you that the face and scalp are connected. The Gooseberry Delight Hair Oil ($34) is a lightweight amla oil blend you can use as a finisher or treatment, and the Double Shot Face Serum ($28) is a dual-phase moisture-enhancing serum made for all skin types. Together, the duo rounds out a category Charuza calls "headcare," which extends beyond the skin on your face.
Launching a hair oil in Squigs' starting lineup felt natural to Charuza, who says the step is a nostalgic part of her childhood. "Traditional Indian hair oiling is something we've done in my family for generations," she says. "Every Saturday, my great grandmother would make oils at home, and we'd sit around and put them in our hair and then cook food together. It was how we hung out."
Inspired by those memories, Charuza also wanted to tap ingredients similar to those from her grandmother's kitchen. "The main ingredient is amla, which is derived from the gooseberry plant. Many products containing amla on the market have a lot of synthetic dyes and fragrances," Charuza explains. "A lot of the ones we've been using our entire lives have a green dye. While the plant is green, the oil derived from it isn't." Charuza set her sights on a no-BS formula with other nourishing ingredients like grapeseed, sunflower, castor, coconut, and olive oils. "So many products promise to eradicate specific issues," she says. "That isn't necessarily realistic, and I wanted to create something that doesn't ignore the reality that [hair and skin concerns happen]. I want to hold space for whatever pops up and evoke the feeling of fun in your beauty routine."
The 130 mL bottle—housed in Squigs' kitschy design—has a unique spout that allows you to dispense as much (or as little) product as you need. You can use it before your wash day as a pre-treatment on your scalp, or you can use it as a finishing step to hydrate and shine. I've been using Gooseberry Delight to help separate my curls after wash-and-go styling and rubbing any extra into my cuticles and elbows. Byrdie beauty and fitness editor Jesa Calaor has also been testing Gooseberry Delight and calls it a "dreamy oil" that smoothes flyaways and defines her waves. We're both fans of the subtle, naturally-derived orange peel scent.
Gooseberry Delight was an easy sell for me as someone who uses hair oils regularly. Still, despite being friends with Charuza, I was skeptical about how I'd like the Double Shot Face Serum. I have (mostly dry) combination skin that needs all the hydration it can get. However, I've never been wowed by most dual-phase products that hit my desk. Most of them (mainly setting sprays or treatment mists) leave behind a hard-to-explain greasy cast that I typically regret. While this one has strawberry, jojoba seed, and avocado oils, it doesn't feel heavy upon application. I've been using four drops during the day for an extra layer of moisture under my face cream and I love the satin feel when rubbed in. The luxe texture was convincing enough to layer a few more drops at nighttime for maximum hydration.
The formula has niacinamide, as well as hyaluronic acid, and glycerin (two MVPs for dry skin). Turmeric and neem extract—both essentials in Indian beauty practices—round out the ingredient list with anti-inflammatory benefits.
Happier Head Days
Aside from creating two products that deliver on their "pinky promises," cracking open the box of Squigs products just feels downright good. It takes me back to the theme of conversations Charuza and I would have at work about the idea of "perfection" in beauty and why trying to achieve it felt so daunting. Squigs feels the exact opposite. It's inviting, uplifting, and fun. It's a brand that—I'm confident—will spark positive conversation just by first glance, but it'll also encourage endless happy head days for anyone who reaches for a bottle.