“I started wearing make-up quite early in life, but my family didn’t necessarily have an inclination towards natural products. I learned everything through teen magazines, television and lot of trial and error. I think it’s been an interesting trajectory. When I was a teenager in Canada, where I grew up, nobody was talking about things like sulfates, chemicals and parabens.
Ever since I founded Bowl Bar, a vegan food and beverage company, a huge part of my day goes into health and wellness-related research and I’ve come to discover the kind of ingredients that go into products and it’s truly, truly horrifying.
The fact that products are tested on animals is so disturbing to me. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child and I’ve always stood up for animal rights. Even when it comes to beauty, I’m trying to switch to organic, cruelty free products. I can’t say that my whole cabinet is 100% cruelty free, but I’m slowly getting there.
I’ve been in India for almost six years now, and there are definitely some natural remedies that I’ve picked up along the way.
The only thing that makes me uncomfortable here is the whole skin lightening process. It’s ironic – where I come from, they market skin darkening products and that’s just what everyone buys. And it’s not cultural, it’s cosmetic. People abroad just feel like they look great with a tan. In India, there’s a strong desire to look more western and “non-Indian” and it has a lot to do with society. So in that sense, I think there is a huge difference in the way beauty is viewed."
“I know the world is obsessed with coconut oil, but for me, it’s a huge Indian influence. I always used organic coconut oil for cooking but I think it’s extremely beneficial for the skin and hair as well. I love Conscious Food’s Organic Coconut Oil.
Forest Essentials is one of my favourite brands. They make amazing products that are all natural and cruelty free. I also feel like these products give me great results. I love their Delicate Facial Cleanser in Kashmiri Saffron & Neem – it’s fantastic because it makes me feel really clean. It’s also very naturally fragrant and instantly refreshing.
I use the Burt’s Bees Lip Balm because it does the job. It’s just a classic, hydrating product and I think most people have one. I use an all-natural loofah in the shower; I usually just pick up a couple of them at The Grand Hyatt Mumbai. I’ve been a member there for a few years and I just get one when I’m using the gym or the pool.
Recently, I bought Thayers’ Natural Remedies Alcohol-Free Toner in Lavender and Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera. It’s very hydrating and soothes redness.
I also use Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar on my face as a toner. It’s one of the best things for the human body and people are using it all over the world. It’s already a huge part of my food regimen, so I love that I can use it for my skin as well. It gives my face a nice tightened effect and it’s also got anti-bacterial properties."
“My hair’s natural texture is quite thick and straight. In India, though, my hair is quite a disaster. I feel like it’s a combination of the water and the pollution because it gets so dry! I like the Redken All Soft Shampoo because it makes my hair soft and gives a nice lather. But it’s still full of chemicals and I’m looking for an organic alternative.
That’s what I mean when I say that all my products aren’t completely natural. But I’m definitely looking out for better options constantly. I use Shea Natural Keratin as my conditioner – it’s just pure African shea butter. It’s so thick, so it’s almost like a hair mask. I just let it soak into my hair.
I use a few pumps of the MoroccanOil Hair Treatment when I jump out of a shower. I get my hair coloured at the BBlunt Salon in Mumbai and I always ask for an extra head message because that always feels so good.”
“My makeup routine has been pretty much the same since I was 18 years old. I’ve been using MAC’s Melba blush for a decade. I love that hint of colour and I think it works great on my complexion.
I discovered the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in my teens and it’s the best foundation in the world. It’s literally like a dream in a bottle for your face. I use MAC’s Pressed Powder to blend everything together. It’s quite light and keeps the makeup intact.
I’ve just started using products from a brand called Da Lish. It’s a Canadian brand that was started by my friend and they’ve got some really great natural, organic products. I’ve tried the foundation and it’s quite good. When I go back, I’m going to pick up the right shade. The great thing is that it’s water based and that’s generally much better for the skin.
I also love the Da Lish L04 lipstick – it’s a vibrant red that works really well on me. I’m really excited to try the mascaras and highlighters too.
I like to fill my eyebrows with the Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil. Sometimes, I’ll use a brush to give it more definition. I also love the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler because I think it makes the eyelashes nice and dramatic.”
“I think food is so essential to beauty and wellness. Beauty has a lot more to do with what you put inside your body. For instance, Bowl Bar’s raw vegan chia seed pudding is delicious, but it’s also a fantastic source of Omega 3s. The chia seeds are great for shiny hair, youthful skin – it’s a superfood.
It’s important to me that the ingredients we use count. We top a lot of our puddings with pomegranate seeds which are a great source of antioxidants; they’re anti-aging and fight all kinds of diseases. We’ll use organic bananas as well – a great way to get some potassium into the body – and interesting ingredients like hemp seeds and bee pollen which contribute significantly to the skin.
One of the things that I use most often in my kitchen is my blender from Blendtec. That’s my version of the famous BeautyBlender. (Laughs)
I also eat a vegan multivitamin as well as a B12 supplement and they make a huge difference to my hair and skin. Another thing that’s super important is a good probiotic – I think everyone needs to take a good probiotic because it’s a natural way to fight diseases and improve immunity.”
As told to Akshara Subramanian. Marissa Bronfman photographed by Shovona Karmakar.