Welcome back to my blog. I hope quarantine is treating you well. In our series, Skincare Diaries, we’ve managed to talk to dermatologists and makeup artists amongst other powerful women. I recently got the opportunity to speak with Aparnna Gupta, a beauty writer in Mumbai who shared her natural skincare routine, her favourite turmeric DIY pack and her deep dive into Ayurveda amongst other things. Let’s get started!
Q: Please introduce yourself and take us through your journey of being a beauty writer to being a blogger and content creator.
Answer: I don’t know where to start. Let’s do it chronologically. I started my writing career as a trainee journalist in Asian Age Delhi, where I covered lifestyle followed by Delhi Times (The Times of India) where I covered events, lifestyle, Bollywood and art. Then, due to personal commitments, I spent 12 months in Cochin, where I dived deep into Ayurveda.
I learnt through various expert interactions and spa experiences across Kerala that Ayurveda is a way of life, which helps to align the mind, body and soul, through oils and potions, food and self care techniques.
Later, I moved to Mumbai, where I learnt the rope of branded content and was later given an opportunity to join the Luxury Division of The Times of India, specifically to bring out a magazine on Beauty. This was the learning curve for me. I was interacting with international brands, also creating content for a publication which was exclusively on Beauty. In an attempt to bring out interesting content every month, I study the finer aspects of beauty besides the trends, the people behind the products, the ingredients, the business of beauty and so on. That’s the time when I also grasped the workings of the luxury segment on the whole.
After my daughter was born, I was looking for opportunities where I would contribute and create but also have the flexibility of adjusting my working hours. I joined Verve magazine as their beauty editor, in charge of ideation, conception and creation of content for their beauty section. So, it was not a work from home scenario, because I was going to the office three times a week and doing the rest of the work from home.
Many times, I would be filing stories and creating content plans in the night when my daughter was sleeping, but I wasn’t stressed because I could continue what I like to do while being able to look after my daughter.
After working for 4 years at Verve, I decided to branch out on my own and start my beauty blog, Lavender Room. I didn’t want to write just on trends or how-to beauty but have a platform to share my insights on how beauty is the other side of wellness. Besides this, I also work with brands on content strategy and continue to write for other publications.
Q: Are there particular ingredients that have always been a part of your skincare routine?
Answer: Okay, here’s a little secret, growing up I was a little conscious about my dusky complexion. But my mom always said, beauty is not the colour of the skin, it’s the skin texture and how you carry yourself. Saturday was designated for a scalp massage while Sundays were reserved for ubtans. Ubtans used to change with seasons. In summer, it was besan + moong dal powder + haldi + curd, and in winters, I replace curd with mustard oil. As a preteen, I would be handed over a ball of cotton wool soaked in raw milk with a drop of lemon every night by my mum, to cleanse my face. I was happy to graduate to cleansing milk as a teen, as I never liked the smell of milk. During my teens, I remember getting terrible acne one summer, my mum made pastes and potions of neem, dhania and pudina, literally like a bitter chutney and kept me on a cooling diet. And that worked and cleared my acne. Wellness in skincare seems to be a newer trend, but for me, skincare was always about well-being. How you feel. What you eat. And then what do you do to correct an aberration? It’s important to look at a complete picture.
Q: Tell us about your holistic skincare routine and the gut-skin connection.
Answer: More than skincare, my diet changes. I am a firm believer in Ayurveda and its practices. I switch to foods which are cooling in nature. I try to eat light meals and sip on some cooling herbal decoctions. My summer skin tonic is whole dhania (coriander) + sauf (fennel) + jeera (cumin), boiled and consumed warm. I get creative with the recipes and experiment with different ingredients such as mint, coriander, fennel, cumin (jeera), cardamom.
Any inflammation on the skin is a sign for me that something is at unrest within, so when my skin breaks out, I try to figure what could be the source. It could be some underlying anxiety or some foods which disrupt the digestive fire (agni), or it could be hormonal around the time of my period.
Q: Please tell us your quarantine skincare routine and hair routine.
Answer: I was in between shifting my houses when the lockdown was declared. My cherished skincare cupboard is not my present house, so I am re-living DIY beauty days of my childhood. Even otherwise, my skincare routine is very simple but consistent. I have a combination skin type that’s prone to acne and pigmentation.
Aparrna’s Skincare Routine
I alternate between Forest Essentials Silkening Shower Wash Indian Absolute Rose and my DIY face and body pack of Besan + Kasturi haldi (wild turmeric) + rosewater + curd
My skin on the body tends to get itchy and dry after a bath, especially if it is highly chlorinated water, so for me, post-shower oiling is a must. I am currently using Forest Essentials, Bath & Shower Oil – Indian Rose Absolute. I keep it simple. I just take a couple of drops of the oil and rub it on my body while it is wet, before drying it with a towel. If I don’t have shower oil, I use some coconut oil instead.
For the face, I use Clarins Hydra Essentiel Emulsion.
I mist my face with floral waters. Right now, I have two in my fridge – Daughter Earth Rose Water and Ranavat Botanicals Jasmine Toner.
I cleanse my face with Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel and I’m currently not using night creams or serums because my skin was breaking out.
Pixi Beauty’s DetoxifEYE Hydrogel Eye Patches with cucumber + caffeine, are my bi-weekly indulgences. I am not very regular with it, but I also apply Sisleÿa L’Integral Anti-Age Eye and Lip Contour Cream thrice a week. I keep it tucked in an out-of-reach shelf as it comes with a cool applicator, which is too tempting for my daughter to resist.
Apart from this, I heavily rely on Just Herbs Extra Virgin Coconut oil to keep my hands moisturised as we’re all keeping up our hygiene during this pandemic
Q: A DIY mask that has done wonders for you.
Answer: Too many. However, the staple is – Kasturi haldi + besan, mixed with curd.
TIP: When using turmeric on your skin, it should be kasturi haldi or wild turmeric and not the variety used for cooking.
Q: I haven’t met you but I do know that you have long, long hair. Tell us about your routine!
Answer: This is something I get asked so often, and everyone thinks I must be applying eggs and methi to my hair, but I seriously don’t. I am very particular about cleansing my hair and conditioning it. There is a technique, which I am sure is known to all. Shampoo the roots and condition the length and ends. I finish with a cold water rinse to close the cuticles. Then comes serum on towel-dried hair. Currently, I am using Aveda Cherry Almond Softening Shampoo and Conditioner, and Luxe Oil, by System Professional. Plus, I consciously eat nourishing foods, as I believe skin and hair take cues from our diet.
Q: Do you take supplements? Have any worked for you?
Answer: I’d say Keraglow: my doctor recommended it and it’s helped with hairfall. Apart from that, I take water-soluble Vitamin C, especially during lockdown to boost immunity and health.
Q: We know that beautiful skin has a lot to do with mental health, food and lifestyle. How do you tackle anxiety and stress?
Answer: So, here’s the thing, the week I am stressed or anxious, my skin breaks out, and that’s like a gentle reminder to me to realign my mind, and thoughts. Our skin is a mere reflection of what we eat, think and do. The deal is when you are stressed, you are stressed. You are out in a situation which is making you uneasy. The point to be considered is – how often is that happening? Do you know what’s the trigger to the uneasiness? Once you know your mind, you can work around it. There are things which make me anxious and I can control. My work involves a lot of creation, that’s why whenever there is a cloud of doubts or anxiety I stop and smell the roses. If I can’t go to the gardens, I bring the garden home by taking a whiff of rose attar/essential oil. When it comes to personal fights, I try to pick and choose my battles. Is it worth me losing my cool for? And then, there are things which shift my centre of gravity and I can’t control them, that’s the time I invest my faith in the universe, and hope like hell, that it has my back!
P.S – I am also regular with my yoga workouts (currently online sessions) and walks (pre-lockdown era).
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post!