Author of the just launched book Glow. Beauty expert. Yoga practitioner and teacher. Lover of French pharmacy, who propagates the use of traditional Indian ingredients with the same ease as she glides on make-up for videos featured on her blog V Beauty. Self-confessed product junkie. Say hello to the former Beauty Director of Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health in India, Vasudha Rai, who is all that and more. With our tea cups full to the brim, we settle down on the couch to ask the damsel what it takes to be beautiful from inside and out.
Your book Glow is a result of your quest to find what the Indian history and culture proffer to inner and outer beauty. What were the surprising takeaways from your research?
There were many revelations, some which explained what we already knew, and some new ones. While researching for Glow, I found that we use sandalwood tikka or bindis between our eyebrows to stimulate a pituitary gland situated there. We drink turmeric milk with a pinch of pepper as the fat and the spice help in absorption the turmeric. The Himalayan herb katuki was a promising discovery. While visiting the Organic India farm to research my ingredients, Mr Bharat Mitra, the Founder & President of Organic India advised me to include this wonder herb in my list. And it turned out that katuki is fabulous for detoxifying the liver and It personally helped me in alleviating infections, especially when I have cold and cough, besides clearing up my skin.
What made you delve into Ayurvedic principles and bring them to your kitchen and beauty shelves?
My book is more about traditions. I am not an Ayurveda specialist. I am a firm believer in the traditional desi way of eating food. However, there are some Ayurvedic herbs that are a part of the book. I look up to, and practice general Ayurvedic eating principles. I don’t consume water 30 minutes before or after of having my meal. I am very rooted and grounded in the way I eat. This is because we have farms in Haryana, and we’ve always had farm fresh ghee, bajra among other things. When in India, I love my roti (quinoa roti nowadays), chawal, saag, and sabzi. I’ve found solace in this food whenever I’ve felt frustrated by a new diet that I’ve tried.
You often stress on the importance of eating right to look beautiful. With superfood trends changing faster than you can say Ayurveda, what should ideal meals to match the fast-paced life of 2018 entail?
I’d tell everyone around to have their normal food. Every country has its own style of eating that is best suited to its weather, so we should stick to what we’re used to eating traditionally. My own day starts with triphala tea in the morning, earlier I used to take a moringa and wheatgrass infusion, after which I have my fruits (my grandfather died aged 96 with all his hair and teeth intact, and he consumed triphala all his life). I don’t eat a heavy breakfast, and avoid consuming tea and coffee, particularly coffee. The monsoon season is ongoing, and these days I eat cooked saag with lots of ginger, garlic, and ghee.
In India, people go on these raw food and smoothie diets. One needs to be really sure about the ingredients they are consuming when on such diets. Another thing that needs to be avoided is consuming cold drinks with meals. If you’re having a dal made with ghee and having a cold drink with it, that’s the worst thing you can do. Imagine putting a cola on hot ghee. It will congeal it. The same thing happens inside your body.
I try to reduce my intake of wheat and dairy as the demand for these foods is more than supply. But if somebody offers me a piece of cheese, I won’t jump away from it. Additionally, it is good to do small things like having some detoxifying tea first thing in the morning. Mornings are for detoxifying. This is when you should have nourishing teas and fruits, and then you’re pretty much sorted for the day. I believe in the age old saying ‘do waqt ki roti’. If you are snacking every 30 minutes, you are pouring something in your body before the previous food gets digested.
You are a certified yoga teacher and apply Ayurvedic principles to your daily life. In today’s world where wellness symbolizes luxury, can you share insights into your holistic approach to beauty?
Skincare wise, I love using really good products and I experiment with a lot of products, but have my basics sorted. I don’t mind spending on a good serum. For my hair, I am a big believer in oiling it two to three times a week. I do pranayam daily. I include something yogic in my life everyday. When it comes to my intake of food for inner strength and outer beauty, I mention a lots of superfoods in my book. I am cautious not to have all of them at a go, something, that I see many people doing. I choose one superfood to have over a period of three months. These plants are very potent and could cause an adverse reaction, while some may prove to be really beneficial. You will not know how these are affecting you, if you consume them all at once.
What is your take on meditation and how do the uninitiated start reaping its benefits?
Well, you can’t immediately start meditating. In yoga sutras there is a sequence of asana, pranayam, and then dhyan and dharna. If one is serious about meditation, they should enrol in a meditation school or seek a teacher. It can be very dangerous if you meditate with a negative mind as you are at a risk of multiplying the negativity. Another good way to begin meditation is to find yoga nidra on Youtube and lie down and do it. It is good beginner level meditation which is scientifically proven to relax the nervous system. People don’t talk enough about pranayam and want to jump into meditation. For the uninitiated, pranayam is a good way to start. If you do it for 15 days, you will see a world of a difference in your mood and mindset.
Can you take us through your daily beauty rituals?
I prefer to use homemade natural things such as a bath powder or face pack and use masks a twice week. If I don’t have the patience to mix one of my masks, I use the Purearth mitti clay. I also like Kama’s pack Suvarna that I mix with honey and aloe vera, to apply on my face. A vitamin C serum and Lotion P50 are part of my night routine. Contrary to what many think, I don’t have these long-winded rituals. I focus on basics like eating well and exercising when I can.
I don’t replace my normal skin care with homemade products. I wouldn’t make a serum at home, and that’s why there are no recipes for a face oil or serum in Glow. I prefer to apply aloe vera and honey on my face over face masks that come in tubes, or even sheet masks which I find absolutely useless. Indian natural face packs are much better than an expensive face pack you’d pick up. Fullers Earth or Multani Mitti when mixed with a bit of aloe vera and turmeric works as an excellent face pack. I discovered how amazing aloe vera was when I was researching for the book and purposely pulled myself back from using a lot of skincare products. When I began using an aloe vera gel as a night cream it was extremely soothing. It also grows so easily. These plants are rich in nutrients and keep giving. There is so much to learn from them.
Even as Glow reaches the pinnacle of bestseller book charts, we bid adieu to Vasudha, but not without indulging in our signature Rapid Fire:
A secret skincare ritual that you hold dear?
The most overrated beauty ritual?
And the most overrated superfood?
All foods are great. The term superfood in itself is overrated because you tend to forget about the other ingredients.
Your go-to products from your favourite Ayurvedic and organic labels?
Mitti facemask from Purearth, Bengal Tuberose essential oil from Forest Essentials, Bringadi hair oil from Kama, Silky Strength Shampoo from Just Herbs, Amritam Coconut Oil from Good Earth, and Kajal from Soul Tree.
Beauty products you swear by?
I love Obagi Professional-c Serum in 20 percent concentration and Biologique Recherche’s Lotion P50.
This conversation is a part of the DSSC Secret Conversation Series, where we get candid with the ace industry disruptors who map its course one masterstroke at a time.