Beauty Guru Vasudha Rai is presently basking in the glow of the success of her first book, GLOW Indian Foods, Recipes and Rituals for Beauty, Inside and Out. She believes while it is possible to fake great skin with make-up, you can be genuinely radiant when you nourish your body from within. Her book focuses on the tenets of an Ayurvedic lifestyle and how herbs can be used (internally and externally) to render beautiful skin. Having worked as a beauty director for Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health, Rai is a pro at recommending brands and giving out beauty tips. So we can’t wait to get up, close and personal with the vibrant writer who believes swears by Indian beauty secrets for skincare glowing.
What’s your idea of beauty?
Vasudha Rai: Beauty for me is looking and feeling good. It’s about being on top of your health game, being in a peaceful state of mind, which manifests outwardly into beautiful skin.
From a beauty editor to a bestselling author – how has your concept of beauty changed over the years?
Vasudha Rai: When I was younger, beauty was all about makeup. It was about what was applied externally. I never considered that what I ate and how I felt could have a huge impact on how I looked. It’s only now after more than 15 years of writing on the subject that I’ve realised that self-care, wellness, health, makeup and skincareall fall under the umbrella of beauty.
Tell us about the journey of Glow.
Vasudha Rai: I wrote Glow because I was fed up of being asked for one miracle serum or the ultimate laser treatment. Don’t get me wrong I love skincare, lasers and all the treatments, however, none of these will work if we don’t eat well and drink enough water. With this book I wanted everyone to know that eating and living well is the backbone of looking beautiful rest are all just embellishments. I always knew I had a book (or a few) in me! It was when I got the deal with Penguin that I started writing Glow.
During the process of writing Glow, you must have stumbled upon some new wellness secrets. Could you share the top ones that made a space in your personal regime forever?
Here are some of the best food for skin glow or perfect food for healthy skin
1. Drinking Tulsi tea:
Tulsi removes toxins, heavy metals and pollutants from the body; it’s the most researched herb for its radioprotective qualities; it makes you alter and calm at the same time. It’s a potent adaptogen, which means it helps you cope with stress. It is my favourite herb and I wrote the entire book drinking Tulsi tea.
This is the best herb for immunity and it grows wild in India. These days I never take medicine for cold and flu. I take two Himalaya Septilin tablets (Giloi is the primary ingredient) in the day and then two again at night. Within a couple of days, my cold is gone and that too without leaving any congestion.
I discovered this herb when I was visiting the Organic India farm for research. Mr Bharat Mitra, the founder of OI recommended this herb, especially for detoxification. Katuki is so powerful that it helps detoxify the liver after say an alcohol binge and even long-standing conditions. The taste is extremely bitter but when I drink Katuki tea I feel born again.
You were in touch with Dr Neena Chopra (Director, Beauty & Technical, Just Herbs) while you were doing the research for your book. How did her insights assist you?
Vasudha Rai: Yes, she gave me quite a few recipes for my book. I chose the barley-bath powder because it’s just such a simple recipe and so effective. Dr Chopra’s insights made me realise that there are so many ways we can use a common ingredient. For instance, any flour (be it barley or moong dal) can be used as an ubtan. All you need to do is add some other ingredients such as turmeric and whole milk and you have a simple easy body exfoliator that is completely natural.
To test skincare and makeup products is a part of a beauty editor’s job. What would be your advice to women on what to add and what to subtract from their vanity dresser?
Vasudha Rai: Do your own research. Women just blindly follow influencers and magazines. However even if a particular product is amazing, it may not suit them because it doesn’t go with their skin type. It is important to take responsibility for your choices and pick a product one you’ve researched thoroughly. Influencers and magazines are good for suggestions but you need to find out if it’s worth the money you’ll be spending.
Can you share your experience with Just Herbs?
Vasudha Rai: I love the brand and their formulations. I especially love the JH shampoos and recommend them to everyone. I don’t know how they do it but theirs is the only sulphate-free shampoo that makes my hair feel clean. I have tried sulphate-free shampoos from other brands but those make my hair feel unwashed and grimy. Just Herbs makes my hair clean and yet shiny, full and soft. Oh and I also love their SilkSplash face wash.
What are your tips and tricks to build an effective skincare closet?
- Double Cleansing is essential. Start with cleansing milk first and follow up with a face wash/ micellar water.
- A good exfoliator is a must. You can choose whether you want a physical or a chemical exfoliator depending on your skin type. I feel dry skins do better with physical exfoliators like a scrub and oily skins do better with a chemical exfoliator like peel pads.
- A vitamin C product for the day.
What is the biggest myth in skincare which you would like to bust?
Vasudha Rai: Well, everything is partly true for different skin types. However, I would like to say that I do not like sheet masks at all. I fail to understand why everyone is crazy about them. They make my skin feel tacking and my pores clogged. Call me old-fashioned but give me an Indian mask with honey, sandalwood, rosewater and turmeric any day. It’s much better for our skin types and shows an effect over the long term.
You are a big advocator of clean eating. What should be included or exclude from our diet to get glowing skin?
- I prefer to avoid wheat, dairy and refined sugar. I do cheat every once in a while but these foods are not part of my daily diet.
- Drink warm water throughout the day.
- Make sure you eat some sort of greens every day.
- Remove everything ‘refined’ which means no refined oils, salt and sugar. Use ghee, coconut and mustard oils, sea or pink salt, and honey.
- Smoothie is not a meal. In India, it is better to eat cooked veggies with a small salad on the side.
There is nothing like food for glowing skin in a month. For healthy and glowing instead of making it a part-time routine, make it a habit.
What is the biggest myth about makeup which you feel even the beauty enthusiasts are sometimes unaware of?
Vasudha Rai: Keep it soft; these days, there are too many harsh lines in makeup – chiselled cheeks, cut creases on the eye, winged liner, sharply defined lips. All this is very ageing, especially when you grow older. What’s more flattering is a smudge of eyeliner, a stain on the lips, a touch of concealer, a dab of highlighter. These are the things that make you look naturally beautiful.
When did you start practising yoga, and when did you think of taking it up professionally? Can you share some simple yogic tips to stay beautiful?
Vasudha Rai: I started practising eight years back and became a teacher after quitting my job three years ago. An essential yogic beauty tip is pranayama. People either do handstands, or they want to meditate. However, pranayama is so underrated but so effective. It gives you more energy, improves health conditions and gives you glowing skin. I feel it is an essential aspect of a yogic lifestyle.