The star of the latest Koovs campaign on her New York beginnings and tried and tested beauty favourites.
“I was studying at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York when I started modelling full time. I was always interested in fashion but I didn’t really pursue modelling actively. There’s a foundation called Children’s Hope that my family supports – I walked for their charity fashion show which included designers JJ Valaya, Manish Malhotra and Manish Arora in New York when I was 15.
I visited Delhi a year later and got scouted by Elite Model Management. Until then, it was very linear for me – I always said ‘New York, New York, New York’, but India snuck its way into my heart.
I’d like to think that modelling in India is a mix of experiences. A lot of campaigns are trying to break through the masses of India to push for change. I can definitely say that in the seven years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen that change. I must say, though, when you’re a model it’s never really just about you – there’s the photographer, the production, the client, the stylist – everyone comes together to create something beautiful.
If I had to compare it to New York, there’s a lack of professionalism at times – but nothing that bothers me too much. Over there, I was too short for the runways. And sometimes you tend to blend in. At the end of the day I got my big break here, so I don’t ever want to forget that.
When it comes to beauty, I like to think I’m a minimalist. I have a major staring problem though – I’m obsessed with people’s features. I’m constantly developing these little crushes on random women and men I see on the street. People are so unaware of just how beautiful they are. My friends are always trying to stop me complimenting random strangers, but I can’t help myself. Somehow, being natural is beautiful to me.
I recently saw Secret In Their Eyes starring Julia Roberts and she blew me away in it. She's wearing no makeup in in her first scene; she doesn’t give a shit, and she looks so raw and beautiful. And, mind you, this is a movie that also features Nicole Kidman.
I’m really inspired by Bobbi Brown. As a make-up artist, she’s just really honest and I feel like her products stand true to what she believes in.”
“My own beauty regimen is pretty straightforward. You’ve got to understand – I’m always at shoots and there’s always way too much make-up on my face everyday. During the day, I wear only Bobbi Brown's BB Cream in SPF 50. This is my saviour because sunblock is a huge part of my routine. I was always so relaxed about it – but after tons of outdoor shoots, I realised that I was developing mild discolouration, so I’ve really started paying more attention to it.
I also can’t live without the Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm. I’ve been using it ever since I was a kid. It sells literally everywhere in New York. It adds a nice tint and keeps my lips really soft.
I use Avène’s Thermal Spring Water religiously on long international flights. I spray it on at least three or four times – it’s so refreshing! When you feel like all the hydration has been sucked out of your face, it’s the best thing to use.
Speaking of refreshing, I’m also loving the Forest Essentials Jasmine and Saffron Mist. It’s so amazing; it’s super light and I can just carry it around in my bag. I also use For Her by Narciso Rodriguez. I really like it because it’s got these strong woody notes without being too overwhelming. It’s also one of the few perfumes that smells just as good even after a few hours.”
"I like to play around with my make-up. I don’t really have a huge make-up bag, but I depend on, like, five or six products to do the job. Bobbi Brown’s New Creamy Concealer Kit in Beige Creamy Concealer + Pale Yellow Sheer Finish Pressed Powder works really well with my complexion. It’s easy to apply when you’re on the go and also great for Indian skin tones. It’s also very natural and doesn’t give you a cakey finish.
The next thing I use is the Chanel Le Volume De Chanel Mascara in #10 Noir. I’m very happy with my natural eyelashes but this brush is so awesome. There’s no clumping or thickening – it totally opens up your eyes.
It’s funny – I was just in New York recently and went to a Sephora and after buying all these super expensive lipsticks, I tried their Matte Long Wear Lip Colour - it was only 14 bucks. I went to brunch afterwards and the colour lasted almost six hours! Since then, I’ve been using the shade Nude Pink Luster. It’s the perfect go-to because it’s not bright but not as basic as a chapstick either.
I also use the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact in Pink Quartz. (Editor's Note: The Body Shop's Shimmer Waves is a great alternative!) It’s a sheer blush and gives you just enough colour for a healthy glow. It works as an eye-shadow, too.
For the night, I love the Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Colour in No. 38 - La Fascinante. When I don’t want to go too crazy, I’ll just apply some concealer and wear the lipstick for a pop of colour.”
“My hair routine is super fuss free. I only use Kerastase’s products – all their shampoo and conditioning ranges are magical. I use them because they’re sulphate free and prevent super dry hair.
I used to be that girl who’d pick random shampoo brands and experiment with them, but then I realised that they weren’t really protecting my hair. The amount of heat that my hair gets put through is ridiculous – there’s only so much it can take!
You’re probably not going to believe this, but I don’t own a straightening iron, a hair dryer or even a normal hairbrush. I just carry a travel-sized brush – that’s how low-maintenance I am when it comes to my hair. And then once a week, I'll do the Nutri Thermique Masque by Kerastase to improve the texture and make it softer.”
As told to Akshara Subramanian.
Diva Dhawan photographed by Shovona Karmakar.
DIVA'S BEAUTY FAVOURITES