“Everyone in my family is a doctor—my dad’s an eye surgeon, my uncle’s a heart surgeon, my other uncle’s a brain surgeon—so I grew up thinking that I was going to be one too. My dad had this dream that my brother would be an ophthalmologist and I’d be an optometrist, and we’d have a family practice. And that was where I was going, but then I turned 16, and I was scouted.
In the beginning, people try to put you in a box. They’ll say you’re a runway model or an editorial model or a commercial model, but I never fit into any of them. I remember everyone thought I was so ‘exotic’ because there weren’t a lot of Indian models at the time. They’d tell me, ‘You should say you’re mixed. That’ll be more exciting and ambiguous to people,’ but then I’d be told I was ethnic, too. It took a lot to build up the confidence to go into a casting and not care if I didn’t fit a certain mold or beauty standard. Luckily, I had a great support system and the industry’s changed a lot—and there’s more work to be done—so I’ve been lucky enough to do everything.
I’ve done a ton of editorial for magazines like Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and L’Officiel, and commercial work for major cosmetic companies like Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown, MAC Cosmetics, and Fenty Beauty. I walked the Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda show in June. The runway started at the top of a hill and wound down through the town. It felt like you were transported back in time. There were local craftspeople and livestock. It was insane. I’ve also been able to walk red carpets for brands like Pomellato. I went with them to the Cannes Film Festival, and my parents were freaking out. They were like, ‘All the movie stars are there. Oh, God. Oh, God.’ [Laughs]
I also studied financial economics at Columbia University, and during my last year there, I built my beauty brand, Prakti. I started with a question: Why hasn’t an Indian-inspired beauty brand reached global scale? There are a couple of reasons. Ayurveda is very traditional, and there hadn’t been much innovation to easily integrate these rituals and remedies in the modern woman’s routines. Secondly, there’s a gap where Western brands felt much more clinical and results-driven, which is amazing because people want to see results. But there wasn’t a combination of these sensorial, ritualistic, holistic-focused brands with a results-driven focus. Prakti is both. I partnered with Daria Myers, who worked at Estée Lauder for almost 40 years, and we soft launched in 2021.
I use our Prakti DeviDetox Purifying Face Cleanser both morning and night. It’s a cream cleanser that’s great for sensitive skin. If I have a lot of makeup on, I’ll even use it to double cleanse. Charlotte Tilbury’s Multi-Miracle Glow Cleanser, Mask, & Balm is also a favorite. I love multi-use products, and sometimes I even use this one as a highlighter.
I don’t use toners very much, but if I do use one, it’s Aesop’s B & Tea Balancing Toner. It’s my go-to if my skin has dry patches. It’s actually really good if you’re breaking out with deep cysts, and I appreciate that it’s gentle because I have sensitive skin.
Dr. Barbara Sturm was so welcoming when I wanted to have a sounding board as I built Prakti, and she’s so good at breaking down what to use and when to use it. Her Clarifying Serum was especially great when I kept breaking out after fashion week. I think my skin wasn’t as clean as it should’ve been after so much glam. I use it at night after our SundaSkin Essential Hydrating Serum, which is my favorite serum. It leaves your skin hydrated, yes, and plump. It’s also a great base for makeup, which I was thinking about when we formulated it. I’ll often go straight into glam after I use it, but if I add a layer of moisturizer after, I use our SapnaSoft Essential Hydrating Moisturizer. It has neroli and clove bud, so it has a great—but light—aroma.
Growing up, my mom had a vitamin C powder that she would put in her moisturizer. That was one of her beauty secrets. She’ll probably hate that I’m talking about this, but let’s not gatekeep. [Laughs] I’ve heard vitamin C is the most potent in this form, so now I do the same thing with The Nue Co.’s Topical-C twice a week. If I want a serum instead, I grab Sunday Riley’s CEO 15% Vitamin C. And I always use SPF, even if I’m inside all day. I’ve been getting more freckles and hyperpigmentation—probably because my apartment gets so much light—so I try to reapply a lot, and I love Iris&Romeo’s Weekend Skin SPF 50.
I’ve been really into lip care recently, and I love Mario Badescu’s Lip Mask. I always use it at night but sometimes during the day, too. Every once in a while, I’ll add in some brown sugar or dried up orange peel bits and use it as a scrub. I love eye masks, too. 111SKIN Rose Gold Illuminating Eye Masks are so good. I use them when I need something a bit more concentrated to brighten or plump my eyes after traveling, and my makeup artist always put them on when she’s prepping me.
I met Mimi Luzon when I was in Cannes—she gave me a facial before walking the red carpet. She used her Mimi Luzon Sparkling Champagne Super Mask on me, and very true to its name, it was almost like having champagne on my face. It was bubbling, and it felt so cool to the touch—I instantly fell in love with it.
I also love all of Mario Badescu’s facial sprays, but I especially love the Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater and the Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile, and Lavender. There are so many ways to use them—to set my glam, as a mist for extra moisture, as a makeup refresher. I have maybe ten bottles in my closet. My grandma actually used to make her own rosewater by boiling water with rose petals and a few other ingredients, so these sprays remind me of her.
I’m a little bit afraid of at-home devices because you can easily mess things up at home. But I was lucky enough to meet with the Nuface team in LA, and they showed me how to use their device. I use it before major moments, like a red carpet. It’s crazy to see the difference when you do half of your face first. You especially see the lift in your eyebrows. I was shocked when I first used it. I was like, ‘Damn. This is why everyone always looks so snatched.’
When it comes to makeup, I think of it as a way to enhance my natural features, but I think that you have to feel good in your most natural basic form, too. After fashion month, when I’m always glammed up and looking like my very best, I get a bit of whiplash when I don’t have anything on. I’ll have dark circles and look tired, and I’ll think, ‘Oh, shit.’ But I try to remind myself that I need to love this side, too.
With that in mind, I haven’t been using foundation when I do my own makeup. Honestly, part of it is that I can never find the right shade. Makeup artists that I work with always mix two or three shades to get the perfect one and I can never replicate it, so I just use concealer. I like NARS’s Radiant Creamy Concealer because it’s very light. I dot it under my eyes, and if I need it, around my nose, lips, and wherever I have spots. I use M2 Ginger.
I’m all about bronzer—I take it everywhere with me. I place the NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder in 05 under my cheekbones, temples, forehead, and jawline. I also use it as eyeshadow for a seamless look. If I want more dimension, I’ll add in Drunk Elephant’s D-Bronzi Bronzing Drops, which have a bit of a sheen. And I don’t know which makeup artist left a compact of Shiseido Synchro Skin Invisible Silk Pressed Powder with me—I think I was in Capri—but it’s become one of my favorites. It comes with a little pad and smooths everything in a natural way. I use it in addition to Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powderin Medium.
One of my makeup artists, David Birdwell, is Buxom’s Executive Director of Global Education and Artistry. He introduced me to Buxom’s mascara, and it’s the best. I’ve been using it for five years now. There’s something about the wand’s tip that’s a game-changer. It lengthens, but it also gives you this fullness. I always restock when I’m out because I can’t use anything else.
Brows really bring out the structure of your face. My brow gel is probably my number one product; I don’t even feel like it’s my face unless I use one. I like combining Dior’s OnSet Brow Gel and the Brow Styler in Dark Brown. I’ll do a couple of swipes of the gel and then fill in any gaps with the pencil, and I’m good to go. If I want them to be a little more fluffy and accentuated, I’ll do a layer of the clear gel. Other than that, I never touch my brows. I waxed them when I was 16 years old, and it took a minute for them to grow back. Never again. [Laughs]
I’m obsessed with Fable & Mane and their founder, Akash Meta. It’s another Ayurvedic-inspired brand. I’ve been oiling my hair since the beginning of time and I always used coconut or sesame oil straight out of the kitchen, but then I discovered Fable & Mane’s HoliRoots Pre-Wash Hair Treatment Oil. I either oil it for 10 minutes and do a nice, relaxing scalp massage before I shower or sleep with it on, and shower in the morning. Out of the shower, I don’t do too much, but I really like their MahaMane Smooth & Shine Hair Oil because it’s light and doesn’t leave you feeling oily. It’s good if you want to do a slick look—just run some drops through your hair and do a middle part.
BODY AND WELLNESS
I use Summer Fridays’ Summer Silk Body Lotion right after I shower. It smells amazing, and it moisturizes without making you shiny. It has the best texture, too—kind of cushiony. I like using Chanel’s L’huile Orient Body Oil all over, too. It’s nice because it absorbs right away and doesn’t feel greasy. It’s so light. Sometimes I even run a little bit through my hair for the scent.
Since I was maybe six years old my mom would give me amla or triphala or turmeric with black pepper and ghee and different types of supplements. I think it’s amazing that so many brands are now thinking about beauty from within. I take Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Repair Food, and I take Nutrafol on and off. My dad got me into it and when I use it consistently, I definitely see a difference; my hair is thicker and healthier. I get a lot of breakage during and after fashion month from all of the styling, and I swear it helps.
Diptyque’s Ylang-Ylang, the room fragrance, is so beautiful. It uplifts everything. Ylang-ylang is such a rich note. It’s delicious. And I was shopping with my dad in Miami when I came across Wind Flowers by Creed. It’s become my signature scent. I should use it sparingly because it’s expensive, but I don’t. It has so many different beautiful notes; there’s a depth to it. I spray it everywhere. Me. All over my bed. I just love it.”
—As told to Daise Bedolla
Photographed by Alexandra Genova in New York on October 22, 2023