We love our products, but this routine is almost entirely free of them and somehow that feels… blissful and exquisite. We can thank the resourceful Gayatri and her grandmother’s Ayurvedic wisdom for this one!
Age: 23 years
City: New Delhi
Weather: Delhi has two extremes – steaming summers and woeful winters. Currently, winter is rearing its chilly head.
Skin: Stubborn and flighty. My skin changes with seasons. I’m Vata and my skin is mostly dry, flaky and prone to premature ageing. During summers, it becomes quite oily for some days. It chills during monsoons in its usual dry state but winters, oh dear lord. My skin hates me during winters. My skin can also become extremely dull, and this happens in all seasons. It’s sallow, sad, miserable looking and more lackluster than the Joey-Rachel romance angle in Friends. But I still love my skin. When it wants to glow, it is luminescent. I don’t have blemishes, acne marks, nada. When I’m happy, it’s happy too.
Hair: Limp, fine and thin. Like my skin, when I’m happy, hair is happy but when I’m sad my hair is very very sad.
Star from the past: Maharani Gayatri Devi. Exquisite, just exquisite. And she was into heritage conservation.
Why did I go clean? Because I was tired. I was tired of wasting tons of money on products that didn’t work. I’m a consultant for a non-profit and earn quite well, but I can’t afford to either buy international brands or glitzy Ayurvedic brands like Forest Essentials for all my beauty products—mostly because I would rather use that money to buy books or be cheated at handicraft saree exhibitions. Very few Indian brands are completely clean. So, what could I do? I went back to my grandmother’s Ayurvedic secrets. I mostly put food on my face. It works brilliantly and is free (because I steal all my beauty supplies from when I visit my parents every weekend. I work for a non-profit. Stealing is allowed.) But I’m not a super-duper DIY-er. If I can’t put it in one jar and shake it up, I’m not making it.
In the morning…
I cleanse my face with raw milk and brush with a tooth powder from a brand called Nirvaaha. Actually, a twig from a Neem tree is supposed to be really good for cleaning teeth, but I’m too chicken for that. I’m mustering up the courage for oil pulling.
In the shower…
Sometimes, when I wake up early and have time, I do Abhyangha with either sesame or almond oil. During winters, I do it almost every day. I wash my body with an ubtan consisting of chickpea flour, wild turmeric, sandalwood, orange peel powder, mint powder, rice powder, neem powder, fuller’s earth and almond powder. This is an extremely gentle bath powder. Even natural soaps dry out my skin a lot and ubtan is super moisturizing when you mix it with milk. I wash my face with a mixture of oatmeal, neem powder, and almond powder. When I’m in the mood, I mix cane sugar, lemon juice, olive oil and exfoliate. On my lucky weekends, my mom gives me grated coconut. I eat half on my way back and the rest I use in a scrub.
My hair turns oily and limp very fast but I don’t want to shampoo it every morning so I clean it with an age-old recipe using amla, ritha and shikakai. If my hair feels dry, I mix in a little Vitamin E oil but otherwise I don’t really need to condition. I use boiled neem water as a hair rinse. I oil my hair at least twice a week and here’s where I have a problem. I can’t find a clean shampoo that lathers enough to remove the oil. I currently use Soultree’s Triphala shampoo but I need to wash my hair thrice to remove the oil. I really need recommendations for nice shampoos that lather. I don’t mind if it’s an expensive international brand because I save more than enough on beauty products. Sometimes I make a hair mask with hibiscus powder, brahmi, neem powder and mix it with yoghurt or egg. The egg stinks so make sure you don’t have a date that night.
Outside the shower…
I use rice water as a toner. During summer, I use coconut milk as a face and body moisturizer. In winters, I use milk cream on my face. It smells funny but it is the only thing that makes my skin fall back in love with me. And it gives an amazing glow. On my body, I use a mixture of oils—apricot kernel oil, rosehip seed oil and vitamin E oil. When I’m out, I use Forest Essentials Absolute Rose face mist. It’s my one indulgence. Did I tell you how puurtty the bottle is?
If my hair is frizzy, I use aloe vera gel to smooth it down. I buy Rustic Art’s Aloe Vera Gel which has green tea extracts and the packaging is so fancy. For my lips and eyes, I use ghee (clarified butter). It really has smoothed down the fine wrinkles I had and my lips are so soft. For dark circles, I dip cotton wool in rose water, cucumber juice and potato juice and use that as an eye mask. A traditional Ayurvedic mask I use includes saffron, majistha, lodhra, red sandalwood and licorice. I use egg white and tamarind pulp often. You may think that I’m smell like an Indian sweet shop but I don’t. I mix rose or lavender EO with all my concoctions so I smell more like a flowerbed. That’s what I think.
I don’t use a deodorant. I don’t sweat or stink much. Honestly. The EOs are more than well enough. But I do use a hair perfume. In a corner of one of Delhi’s prettiest markets, I found a lady who makes these cones with charcoal, myrhh, and essential oils of your choice. You light one of these cones and hold it under your hair and the smell is intoxicating. For sunscreen, I use Aroma Magic’s Sunblock SPF 30 PA+++.
I don’t use much makeup. I use Soultree’s kajal. I use beetroot juice as lip treatment so they’re a nice pink shade.
Thanks for sharing this inspiring routine, Gayatri! Have any of you tried similar Ayurvedic treatments? What are your favorites?
I do still love Stark Skincare’s Meadowfoam, but I have to admit I ventured further into body oils this year, as the cooler seasons rolled in.
I was seeking an all-over glow with beautiful scent, and these get me there. All are made with high quality oils, and leave the skin ultra soft. I use a bit after a shower, and run my hands through my hair, too.
May Lindstrom’s The Good Stuff: As regular readers know, I love all things May. She knocks it out of the park with every single product. This body oil was the only thing I had yet to try from her line, and it’s a wonderful indulgence. I normally don’t like ylang-ylang on me, but the subtle blend with rose, lavender and the killer cocoa absolute is addictive. If you love the scent of The Honey Mud, you will love this too. This oil has a bit of mica, which mostly just makes it look very pretty in your hand, but I’ve never noticed any overt sparkle once I’ve spread it on my skin. It’s a very special treat. ($110/3.38oz)
La Bella Figura’s Skin Aficionado: The ingredients start with some of my favorite oils: camellia, sunflower and meadowfoam. It has quite a unique blend of scents, but the ginger is what grabs me. I really notice how supremely soft my skin is after using this oil. Right now I’m working the last bit of the generous sample I received, and it’s on my list for a full-size purchase soon. ($90/3.4oz)
Osmia Organics Body Oils: Water Lily is my favorite of the various scents. Rich with vetiver, it’s grassy and spicy and wonderful. On the website, it says, “you may find yourself sniffing your arm during meetings.” Well, yes, I actually caught myself doing just that, and had to laugh! On a few occasions while wearing this, people have mentioned how nice I smell. I even put some in a little roll-on bottle* to carry around with me and use as perfume. There are many other scents to try. I like Night to seal the deal on a relaxing evening bath. Stream is also nice, and more on the flowery side. I love that this oil comes in an unscented version, and in different sizes for easy gift-giving and travel. ($24/2oz or $70/7.5oz)
Looking for an even more budget friendly option? Body oil is quite easy to DIY. You can pick up unscented carrier oils, EOs and bottles at your local clean products spot or Mountain Rose Herbs. MRH also has helpful information on which EOs go together nicely. Make a big batch of oil, and you’ll have a beautiful little something for everyone you’re gifting this year.
Which body oil would you love to give (or get) as a gift?
*these are coated glass, if you’d rather avoid that the same site has clear glass rollers and so does MRH
Where I live: Oakland, CA (across the Bay from San Francisco)
My relationship with makeup: Reformed. I’ve been in a love/hate relationship with makeup since puberty. I grew up wishing I could wear makeup like my older sisters did, but I wasn’t allowed until I was sixteen. For a while, I would sneak my sisters’ old and discarded eye makeup and blushes (gross, and so not the right shades for me) and apply them on the school bus, wiping it all off on the way home. When I was finally allowed to wear makeup, I was in a phase of not wearing much. I went back and forth several times over the years, with periods of wearing or not wearing color. But I always had some type of concealer. For many years, I only used makeup to cover up my real or perceived imperfections. As if the circles under my eyes or big zits were less noticeable with makeup. When I discovered mineral makeup in my thirties things took a positive turn, and I was also taking better care of myself, which showed in my skin. Then when I went clean a few years ago, I learned to love makeup. I still use it partly for concealing, but mostly for enhancing now.
I have a ton of stuff, though I don’t wear much all at once. I always use a light, protective base. Color wise, I’ve been doing two looks lately:
1. Illuminator for lashes, lids, cheekbones, and just a touch under the eye, plus cheek and lip color.
2. Mascara, illuminator for eyes and cheeks (sometimes it’s good to embrace the pale), and maybe a subtle lip color.
Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation: I apply this under eyes, on lids, and any blemishes with their Concealer Brush. It covers perfectly, and only requires a light touch to do its job, which means no creasing. My shade is Olive 1, and they have such a variety I think anyone could find a match.
DIY Finishing Powder: Equal parts Alima foundation, kaolin clay, arrowroot powder, and rice powder applied all over (including around eyes) with a flat kabuki brush gives a nice finish, retaining the look of bare skin that’s neither dry nor oily.
RMS unpowder: The teensiest bit of this gem applied to just my forehead with a Lili Lolo baby buki brush means absolutely no excess shine, ever. No matter what. I’m pretty dry at my age, so I wouldn’t use this on the rest of my face, but I highly recommend experimenting with this if shine is ever an issue for you.
Ilia Illuminator: Polka Dots & Moonbeams is my standard, but the slightly more golden, limited edition Cosmic Dancer is lighting up my eyes and cheekbones lately. The Ilia illuminators are perfect for lashes on no mascara days.
RMS Buriti Bronzer and RMS Lip-to-Cheek in Diabolique: I am obsessed with these right now. They compliment each other and also layer amazingly well (either work on cheeks or lips). I have never been into bronzers, but when Buriti launched I had to try it. On cheeks, it doesn’t look like I’m faking a tan, just like I’m not my typical True Blood vampire pale. On lips, it is the perfect nude-ish, almost-shimmer shade. And I love Diabolique so much, I had to buy a second jar since it’s a limited edition. It’s my current favorite for a bolder lip. I find the color stays on cheeks the full day when layered over Buriti, otherwise it will fade somewhat over the course of the day, as with most cream blush.
Ilia mascaras: I was so excited about Ilia’s mascaras when the new phenoxy free formula came out that I was wearing mascara every day for a while (when I had gone months/years without). It’s fun to change up the color, and Asphalt Jungle and Macao are both lovely.
Afterglow’s Perfecting Under Eye Concealer: I’m experimenting with this a bit lately, using the palest shade, Meringue. I like just a touch under the eyes, and a light brush of my usual Alima foundation over it. It’s a good option for brightening without the finish of an illuminator, and I love that it has de-puffing and anti-aging ingredients.
Some long-standing faves that will eventually be back in the rotation are Alima blushes (like Apple Blossom), Juice Beauty’s Irresistable Glow Highlighter and RMS eye shadows (like Karma, Magnetic, and Solar). My other Ilia lipsticks/conditioners/crayons make occasional appearances too (Ink Pot, Lust For Life, Femme Fatale, Desert Angel, These Days, Come Undone, Dress You Up). Huh. I think I may have an addiction there.
What’s in your makeup bag this time of year?
For those of you who have been with us for a while, you know about our love affair with Kahina Giving Beauty. At the heart of this gorgeous collection is the finest ethically sourced organic argan oil we know of. Yesterday Siobhan dished about the newest addition to the line, the Fez Body Serum. We’ve also raved about Kahina’s Brightening Serum, Toning Mist, and the Eye Cream. We’re not alone… you gush about this luxe and eco-friendly line all the time in your morning routines. So here’s a big happy Friday to you from NMDL + Kahina Giving Beauty!
Kahina is giving you 20% off your entire purchase until midnight this Sunday. Just enter the code GIVING20 at checkout. If you spend $75, you can also get free shipping—just use the additional code KFREESHIP.
Don’t miss this promotion! A little Kahina fairy told us that this is the only site-wide sale they will offer for the next 12 months! A couple of fine print notes: Kahina only ships in the U.S. and the offer excludes the “Skincare Solution Sets” since those bundles are already discounted.
Let us know what you love from Kahina and what you’d like to try.
A little while back I had a natural-beauty girl date at a restaurant here in New York. It was with Kahina’s founder Katharine who has, over the years, become a friend. If you’ve never met her, here are some things to know: She has an easy laugh, she’s emotionally generous, and she has the envious glow of a woman who seems to love life, love the work she does, and love herself. She just has that thing (and by thing I don’t just mean argan oil, though that probably plays a small part).
(Psst, also. Kahina is our Friday Deal tomorrow, so if you’re going to get this new product or gift it, hold your horses till tomorrow when we reveal the codes.)
That night, she was so excited to tell me about her long-time-coming new product: a body serum. It took some doing because getting the oil mix just right for deep hydration but also a bit of a glow can be tricky when argan oil is the foundation of your line. That’s because argan oil is so incredibly good at absorbing into your skin — as anyone who uses it on their face can tell you — which means when you apply it alone to your body, especially when the air is super dry, it could leave you a little…wanting.
To get an oil blend that is rich and hydrating without being greasy or clothes-stainy? Not so simple. But leave it to Kahina to figure it out.
The new Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum is, in a word, delightful. A few of us tried it and agree that it’s amazingly hydrating, but its real selling point is the smell, since you’re going to be wearing it all over you. Here’s what Nicolle had to say:
“I never thought I’d say I loved smelling like cumin and clove, but the FEZ Body Serum has a luxurious, spicy scent that calms and de-stresses. A little on my neck and chest before bed helped me relax and sleep better.”
Mmm. I agree. There’s something very end-of-day to the smell, perfect for unwinding and warming up in cool weather. But I’ve also recently been revisiting some of my books on Ayurveda, and after some recent travel, seasonal change, work stress, and a nasty cold, I came to the conclusion my Vata dosha was out of balance. (Pretty sure my Pitta is wacked too, which is awesome.) Maybe Fez could help?
I was keen to add abyanga back to my daily routine. It’s a kind of self-massage ritual that you perform with therapeutic body oils, and you can find out more about that here if you want to try it (you do!). It can be a bit of a messy pain to do it the old fashioned way, and I wouldn’t want to use up all my oil in one shot. But since Fez has such a warming, soothing fragrance, I thought it would be nice to, post-steamy-shower, apply it, abyanga-style, in slow circular motions starting at my feet.
I did that for a few days and while it’s too soon to know if it’s rebalancing my Vata (LOL), I can say this: I feel calm, I smell good, and today, anyway, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself.
If that’s not an ideal natural beauty product, I don’t know what is.
What’s your favorite Kahina product? Some other body oil you love? (And any Ayurvedic dosha-balancing tips are welcome, too. Ahem.)