"I remember watching my grandmother put on her face creams at night. They were very strong and very smelly. (Laughs) She used to put her hair in curlers every night and sleep with them on; it was a regime in the truest sense of the word. My mum was the opposite. She was very beautiful, but much more casual. Living in Canada and having a busy lifestyle, with a young kid – it has different demands. I remember, though, being fascinated by her hair. She had really blond, almost bleached blond hair, but it was natural. When she used to go out, she used to curl it in that Farah Fawcett style – those great wings, which were so 70s, the ones that are back in style now. So I grew up seeing a combination of elegance and a casual approach to beauty. Going back to India, I used to always observe my aunts, who were so beautiful. Bengali women just have something about them, you know? With their big bindis and their kohl-rimmed eyes and the way they carried themselves, it was an education.
But I think my greatest inspiration, beauty-wise, is probably Europe – Italy, to be specific. I think it combines the best of the East and the West but it’s still so much itself, so Italian. I lived in Milano for three years, and I think my education started there – the less is more way of looking at beauty. I was fascinated by all the Milanese women, the way they looked like they’d all stepped out of Italian Vogue. I remember going to the gym, where they had a hammam, and all the women were so particular about stepping out of the steam room and rubbing themselves down with ice. Apparently it’s the best way to keep your skin tight and glowing. I’d just come from India, where initially we started out using Kryolan, just heavy, heavy base to blank out your entire face and then repaint the features. But I lived with a fashion photographer in Milan and he taught me, really, that less is more.
It all starts with skincare for me. I had horrible skin when I was a model, but you couldn’t tell because I was wearing so much foundation! Just from hormonal changes and stress and all the things you go through as a teenager and in your 20s. I’m 41, but I’m healthier and my skin is better than it’s ever been. It’s the lifestyle, for sure, what I put in my body – it starts with that. My wheatgrass juice, going vegan, it’s all paying off now. I’m very comfortable with who I am and when that happens you don’t want to hide behind a mask, you know? You want to use makeup to enhance certain features, sure – in my case it’s my eyes, but it’s just about keeping it light and fresh, especially as you get older. Never use heavy makeup as you get older!
My skincare regime is just cleansing, cleansing a whole lot. I use a combination of things – I really like Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, which is fabulous and so light on your skin. But cleansing to me also means drinking a lot of water. Another thing I do is hot yoga, which detoxifies the skin. I’m actually a co-owner of a studio, Moksha Yoga Brampton. I’ve been doing yoga for the last 8 years – and if not hot yoga then I’ll do a Hatha or Ashtanga or Vinyasa routine. Cleansing also means cleansing your thoughts, I think. Meditation helps with that – cleansing your general aura, you could say – I think that helps, there’s no doubt about it. It creates a healthy glow, that’s what I’ve noticed in my case. It’ all about health for me – it’s the main criterion for beauty.
I like Good Earth’s Amritam a lot. I love the rose spritz and their gels, which are really natural. And I use a lot of products by this great brand called Vasanti. Their cleanser is fantastic, and I’ve found this other holistic brand that I love, a Hungarian brand called Ilike. I use their Bio Flavinoid Age Defence Moisturiser, which is fantastic. It’s creamy and rich and absorbs really well, and it’s completely natural.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, which teaches you a non-toxic approach towards living and eating, and that extends to what you put on your skin. It’s your biggest organ, and everything you eat or put on it affects it. So I’m quite interested in mineralized makeup lines at the moment. I have a little routine with Vasanti’s makeup products. They have a mineral brightening powder which is phenomenal, there are two colours which I carry with me all the time. One is called Brazilian Bronzer and the other is Sun Peached Glow. They’re so beautiful for highlighting and sculpting. I mean Brazilian Bronzer, that says it all! I also use the Luminous Cream Blush in Pinnacle, just for a little colour on the face. I’m wearing some now. For my foundation – Vasanti’s tagline is Love Your Color, so they have fantastic foundations for every skin tone. I use their V3 Powder, which just really suits my skin. They’ve built their brand around the concept of matching an array of skin tones and are very conscious about yellow or pink undertones. I think today’s woman is much better informed about what suits them and how they want to present themselves, you know? They also have a primer called All Star which I love, it’s very light and sheer and works great as an eye primer too. And to get a little glow, sometimes I use M.A.C.’s Arena on the eyelid.
At the Spa
Spas are definitely my thing these days – I think taking a break from your everyday lifestyle is essential. It’s a refresher for your skin, for your body and for your mind. I was in Bora Bora for my honeymoon and the Four Seasons there has the single most stunning spa I’ve ever seen. You have this iconic view of those hill formations which everyone sees and they know it’s Bora Bora; it’s perfectly framed in the massage room, and with the breeze coming in, it’s out of this world. There’s another fabulous spa in Canada, up West – it’s called the Sparkling Hill spa and it’s just outside of Colona. They have these far out Swarovski treatments where you’re basically cryogenically preserved. You’re taken through these chambers and the temperature is minus 100 degrees Farenheit; it’s considered a great holistic treatment, both in terms of beauty and health, to just spend even a few seconds in that amount of cold. It’s quite wild. (Laughs) And of course, there’s the Solange Calistoga Spa in Napa Valley, which is where Jason and I got engaged – it’s stunning, so causal and elegant."
As told to Komal Basith
Lisa Ray photographed by Komal Basith in Bangalore. © Komal Basith