Sandalwood & Jasmine

Holy & Holistic: Discovering Ila Skincare

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Recently, I chanced upon a gorgeous brand called Ila, which felt fabulously luxuriously blissful against my skin while calling upon ‘vibrational energies’ to soothe the senses. Developed a handful of years back by Denise Leicester, a Brit who came to India and fell in love with it’s culture, traditions and flowers, it offers up a sensual medley of floral and plant extracts, natural mineral oils and Himalayan salt crystals. The word ‘Ila’ comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘earth’ and there is a sacred place in northern India at the confluence of the Sarasvati and Drishdvati rivers known as Ilayaspada, which is considered to be extremely holy.

“Beyond organic”

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In keeping with it’s name, Ila is devoted to the ancient practises that respect the sanctity of Mother Earth while calling upon it’s healing energies. According to Denise, “Everything in our products comes from a plant or mineral – nothing else.” But the brand goes even beyond the merely organic – every single ingredient is not only free from synthetic chemicals but is also sourced directly from local producers who cultivate and harvest them in harmony with nature.

Roses that hold an ancient promise

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For example, the Rose Damascena from India comes from a family that has been growing and distilling roses for many generations according to centuries-old methods. The water is drawn by solar energy, then mixed with petals in copper vats and heated by natural fire-fuel. The spent petals are fed to the cows, completing a cycle that begins and ends with nature. The end result is a distillate of Rose Otto with a depth and a richness of scent that is so potent, I can smell the fragrance and feel it’s silken touch a full 12 hours after washing the Body Balm for Feeding Skin and Senses off my skin!

Moroccan memories

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Similarly, the Argan Oil from Morocco is made by a womans’ co-operative whose skills have been passed on down the Berber generations. It’s crushed, filtered and cold-pressed in the way it always has been, using many hands and just a few simple mechanical aids. Denise and her colleagues eschew middle-men, choosing instead to travel and handpick the “purest sources” themselves, thus laying the foundations for fair trade. The reason? “The purer the source and the process, the purer Ila’s products will be and the more suffused with the earth’s natural healing energy.”

Beauty through chanting?

The products themselves are artisanal and hand-blended in an environment of “peace and purity”, accompanied by the rhythm of energy and balance-imbuing chants in the English countryside. This is to imbue the finished potions with all the pure vibrational energies of nature that work in consonance with therapeutic ingredients “to improve natural beauty through the health and vitality of our skin, to increase well-being through the transforming effects of energy healing, and to connect to a greater sense of inner serenity.”

Ila products have garnered a number of awards and are available at premium outlets across the world (including the Four Seasons Spa in Mumbai, which also offers up terrific spa rituals based around the same,  for the benefit of Indian connoisseurs). Prices normally start at approximately Rs. 2,000 (or 35 British pounds, depending on which part of the world you are based).

Diana Penty spills her beauty secrets

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Not every model walks straight off her first Bollywood movie into the leagues of super-stardom. It’s a tough path, but 26-year-old Diana Penty is treading it with seemingly effortless ease. Despite the powerful presence of established stars like Saif Khan and Deepika Padukone, this leggy Indian beauty is already arousing much curiosity even before the release of Cocktail, in which she makes her Bollywood debut.

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So, who exactly is Diana Penty? And what was she doing till now? Diana actually took the fashion world by a storm with her very first catwalk assignment – the three-city Indo-Italian Festival – when she was just 19-years-old. Since then she has become a hot favourite on and off the ramp, taking to the catwalks of Paris and New York with a rare panache. And as one of fashion’s most wanted faces, she has also bagged several ad campaigns – Maybelline, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Forever 21, Virgin Mobile, Ashish Soni, Sabyasachi, Wendell Rodricks, and Rohit Bal are just some of the names attached to her sparkling portfolio.

Born to a Christian mother and Parsi father, Diana combines her genetic good looks with flawless skin, an innate sense of style and effortless elegance. The Mass Media graduate borders on the ultra-slim side, despite the loads of chocolates and a self-confessed apathy towards rigid workout schedules. Despite the fame and success, she retains her low-maintenance persona, happy with minimal makeup and spending her free hours with a good book. Read on as she spills her secrets on looking good without trying too hard.

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What have you learnt about beauty?

Be natural! Your own beauty will shine through. You cannot be someone else.

What’s your favourite feature?

My height (5 ft 10″)!

Favourite make up hues?

For evenings, I like the smokey eye and a hint of neutral lip gloss or lipstick.

What kind of fragrance do you like to wear?

I prefer a light, fresh fragrance.

What’s your haircare ritual?

It’s very simple, really!  My hair is naturally straight and dark – and I like to keep it that way. I wash it every 2-3 days and use a volumising shampoo and conditioner. Besides this, I treat my strands to a protein mask once every 3 weeks or so. My hair does get blow-dried a lot but whenever possible, I just leave it to air-dry on its own.

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And your skincare regime?

I never use soap – only a gentle face wash followed by a moisturiser. After a shoot or show, I use cleansing milk as a makeup remover, followed by the usual wash-and-moisturise routine.

What’s the best thing about makeup?

It makes you so versatile! You are like flexible clay in the hands of a makeup artist who can mould you into a totally different persona. Personally, I don’t use much makeup except for the evening when I may highlight my eyes, use a light foundation and a neutral lip gloss or lipstick.

A skin care basic?

Face wash and moisturiser are usually enough for everything.

Do you have a keep-fit routine?

I am hardly a role model in this area as there is no such routine in my life! I work out in fits and starts, eat what I want, have a penchant for chocolate and am totally content when curled up on my favourite couch, reading a book!

Do you consider yourself high-maintenance?

I don’t think so!

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Cocktail: The battle of the DPs

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Cocktail releases this Friday and all eyes are going to be on the two DPs (uh… Diana Penty and Deepika Padukone for those of you who have been living under a rock!) who will battle it out on the big screen for the style and beauty stakes. What’s your take? The sexy, sassy, uber-experimental, Chanel and Mawi draped Veronica (Deepika) or the casual, creative, slightly quirky, kurtis and chinos sporting Meera (Diana)? Who is more hot? And who is more haute? In short, which is the one you will be channeling in the coming months?

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Get the look: Priyanka Chopra in Teri Meri Kahaani (2012: Radha)

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This is where Priyanka looks most like herself – confident, modern and stylishly put together. The makeup and wardrobe channels key trends for 2012 such as colour blocking, bold prints, pastel shades, metallic basics and big silhouettes.

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  • Start with a luminous finish, medium coverage foundation (layered over a primer) – like Lancome’s Teinte Miracle – and dot on the concealer where needed. Unlike the ’60s look, today skin is supposed to look natural and dewy, so don’t be afraid of letting your true colours show through.
  • Buff on a setting powder where needed (in particularly shiny areas such as the T-zone). The idea is to look fresh and dewy rather than matter and powdery.
  • Contour with a peachy-pink blush, liquid highlighter and bronzer.
  • Shade the eyes with a coppery-pink shadow (such as MAC’s Pink Frost), then line the upper lashes with black liquid liner that extends just to the tip of your eyes. Curl lashes, add a volumising mascara and fill in your brows. If eyes still seem undefined, wet the eye shadow and smudge it onto the lower lash line.
  • Lips are matte and not very precisely defined – preferably in a natural pink or dusky brown shade.
  • Hair is important, worn either straight or in long and loose waves, with reddish-blonde and gold highlights to add a sense of edgy drama to the look.

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Also see:

Get the Look: Priyanka Chopra in Teri Meri Kahaani (1960: Rukhsar)

Get the Look: Priyanka Chopra in Teri Meri Kahaani (1910: Aradhana)

Get the Look: Priyanka Chopra in Teri Meri Kahaani (1960: Rukhsar)

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In the space of half a century, India had changed almost beyond recognition. Teri Meri Kahaani looks at the first half of the 1960s, which was the era of non-conformity, rebellion and youth. It was also the era of colours for Bollywood, with black & white movies getting rapidly phased out. Films – especially those anchored by Mumtaz, Saira Banu, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Dev Anand and Shashi Kapoor – were a major influence on fashion and Bollywood actresses were the sexiest ever!

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Hence, it is fitting that Priyanka consulted Saira Banu to get the part right, while Manish turned to Asha Parekh. The first aspect they discovered: there was a certain properness about the 60s in India, tehzeeb (manners) were important, the clothes were sharp and formal. This was the time of the stylish short kameez with churidaar pyjamas and fitted saris in shimmering, sparkling hues. Add to this the beehives, the Sharmila Tagore hair, the winged tip cat’s eye makeup and what you had were young, stylish, women who were contemporary and yet retained a uniquely Indian charisma.

On the makeup front, the deep red lips of the ’40s and ’50s were no longer fashionable. With the addition of titanium to their lipsticks, Max Factor were bringing out pastel pearly-pink shades. These soon caught on with young girls who initially wore the colours because they were acceptable to parents but the trend stuck and spread. Instead, big, dramatic eyes became the ultimate fashion ploy: winged liner was everywhere (just as it is now, in the summer of 2012!) and mascara became a vital component; preferably so thickly applied that the lashes clumped together in spikes.

  • Creating the vintage look starts with a full coverage foundation – like Makeup Forever’s HD formulation. Put a primer underneath and use concealers where needed, especially in the under-eye area.
  • Use a finishing powder over your foundation to set and ensure it stays matte – MAC’s Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder does a great job.
  • Then comes the wing tip ‘Cat’s Eye’. For this you will need an angled makeup brush (like MAC #266) and a gel liner or a liquid liner – I can personally vouch for Makeup Forever’s Aqua Black Waterproof Cream Eye Shadow.
  • Start by figuring out where you want the wing tip to end on the outer corner of your eye. Use the end of your eyebrow as a guide for placement: the end of the tip should be in line with the end of your eyebrow.
  • Draw a line from the inner corner of your eye to the end of the tip, and fill in the space with the liner, getting right to the base of your lashes. In creating this line, you can either follow the shape of your eye, in which case the “wing” may be more pronounced, or you can take your liner in a fairly straight line to meet the tip. In this case, the line will be more dramatic. [Tip: Use a pencil to sketch out the line – they are more forgiving. When you are happy, with the shape, trace over it with the liquid liner or the gel liner.]
  • Ideally, leave the bottom lash bare. However, if that makes you seem washed out, just smudge a charcoal eye shadow close to the lash line.
  • Add two coats of black mascara on curled lashes.
  • Bring out a dusky pink blush for your cheeks.
  • Finish off with a nude or baby pink lipstick. I like MAC’s Hug Me and Chanels’ Rouge Allure in Confidentielle for this look.

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Coming up next: 2012 – Priyanka Chopra as Radha in UK

Also see: Priyanka Chopra as Aradhana in Sargoda, a village near Lahore in undivided India

Priyanka Chopra as Radha in UK