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 truly radiant when you nourish your body from within. Her book brings to focus 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. We can’t wait to get up, close and personal with the vivacious writer who believes swears by Indian beauty secrets.
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 such 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 skincare all 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?
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.
2. Giloi – 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.
3. Katuki – 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?
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 feeling 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 through 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 gur or honey.
Smoothie is not a meal. In India, it is better to eat cooked veggies with a small salad on the side.
Eat according to the season and eat fruits and vegetables that are grown locally.
Drinks lots of herbal tea, they are cleansing and detoxifying – I love Tulsi, green tea, and Himalayan nettle tea.
Don’t snack in between meals. Eat a proper meal so you don’t feel hungry later.