We’ve all heard the adage that beauty is skin deep. But then, why do many of us still look out for solutions only in external cosmetic products and treatments? If you want better skin and hair, the first place you should go to is your kitchen! Glow by Vasudha Rai dives into indigenous wisdom and emerges with some easy-to-follow and tried-and-tested ‘manna’ for great skin, hair and health!
Excerpts from our conversation with Rai…
You have been involved in writing about the beauty industry for a long time. What are your observations about the change in attitudes towards natural authentic beauty treatments and products over the course of all these years?
I think the treatments are broadly the same, but what has really changed is the attitude towards beauty. There is a lot more acceptance now of the way we look. Beauty is also more diverse, which means that a lot more of us are considered beautiful, instead of just that typical ‘gori-chitti’ aesthetic. In terms of products, there is a slew of natural beauty brands that have entered the market. It’s like a green revolution of sorts. However, in the next few years the brands will be filtered down. Only the ones that are scientifically formulated and are extremely effective will remain.
You have divided the book into the four pillars of beauty—vitality, clarity, radiance and peace, and then put different natural foods under each of these heads. This is indeed a new and original way to look at beauty. What inspired this approach?
I was a bit tired of the upside-down approach that we had for beauty. Skincare, makeup and facials are all great. However, true beauty begins from within – with good health and a great mindset. Writing on beauty for more than 15 years I have seen that outer care is a temporary fix. We have to be cognizant not just of the food we eat physically but the thoughts that we feed into our minds. Vitality stands for energy and strength: When we eat and live to be healthy, great skin and hair are just a side effect. Clarity is a real need these days – especially because adult acne is a reality, because of stress, poor diets, pollution etc. Radiance is the main tenet of beauty and I have chosen brightly coloured fruit, leaves, flowers and seeds for this section. But, for me the ultimate pillar of beauty is peace. Without peace, looking good is just superficial. When we are calm and peaceful there is an inner radiance that is magnetizing and there is no cream or facial that can replicate that sort of glow.
Can you talk about the research process that you undertook for this book? I understand that there were trials you undertook as well!
I wrote the book in four drafts (before I submitted it to Penguin). First, I wrote what I knew from experience. Then I looked at scientific studies to find new data and support my claims. The third layer was the precious knowledge that my experts generously shared with me. And finally came the recipes and recipe testing. My neighbours are now used to seeing me in weird face masks just walking around! Some of them know that I’ve written a book, while others think I’m a bit crazy!
One of the points that the book brings out is that many traditional fruits and vegetables which many of us may have enjoyed in our childhood are just disappearing from the scene. This surely points to something simmering that we are not aware of. How can one bring back and preserve, or rather reclaim what is authentically ours?
One way to do that would be to create a demand for our local fruits and vegetables. We must reduce the consumption of imported berries and other stuff because firstly they are unnecessarily expensive, and secondly, they spoil easily because they have been stored for too long. Lastly, God knows what they have been injected with to stay fresh for so long! Also, instead of shopping at the supermarket, go to your mandi, shop with the local subziwallah, support local businesses. It all begins with one person – just ask for local over imported and slowly, the demand will increase. Educate your friends and family to do the same.
Just as a quick takeaway for our readers… Which natural product would you use for the following?
- As a moisturiser: Aloe Vera gel or honey as a mask. However, I would recommend a well-formulated moisturiser for use on a regular basis.
- As sunscreen: I wouldn’t use a natural product for this. A good quality, scientifically formulated sunscreen is the best, with PA +++ on the label.
- For hair cleansing: Moong dal powder, or our old combination of amla, reetha, and shikakai.
- To nourish hair: Bhringraj hair oil
Many people do want to go back to the ‘roots’ and our rich heritage of remedies for health and beauty. However, within the spectrum of ‘natural’ beauty products we are flooded with options in the market. What advice would you give consumers for distinguishing between what is authentic and what is not?
I would always say do a lot of research and see if the ingredients have been extracted using the best methods, and then formulated by a scientist. People don’t understand that natural ingredients can be very volatile and need to be balanced by someone with a degree in cosmetology. I believe in balance – I love eating clean, applying home-made hair oils and masks, but equally I love a good face serum or a dermatologist-office treatment. We can preserve our heritage and yet take advantage of the products that are modern and effective. We don’t have to choose between one or another.
It’s time to begin the journey to good skin and hair. Are you ready to bring on the inner glow?
Author: Vasudha Rai