As die-hard beauty fanatics, we understand the importance of keeping a close eye on the global routines of women around the world, and one of the most inspiring destinations right now is, without a doubt, India. Women the world over are currently looking eastward for makeup, hair and wellness secrets, and—and according to New Delhi-based style expert—Akanksha Redhu, the city’s beauty scene mirrors the bustling metropolis itself: bright, bold, and one of a kind.
So why should we look to the beauty scene in India for inspiration? The short answer is diversity. “Indian makeup is more universally adaptable because it’s suited to a range of skin tones, and everyone can make it a part of their lives,” Redhu says. Many popular local skincare products, which are based on the country’s centuries-old traditional medicine system, Ayurveda, also carry international appeal thanks to their commitment to staying all-natural.
And Akanksha covers it all on her eponymous fashion and lifestyle blog, which she launched while studying at the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology. When she’s not chronicling the glamour of India Couture Week, taking flawless selfies alongside hunky Bollywood stars for her Instagram devotees or offering her spin on this season’s #MustHaves (skater dresses, Aviator sunglasses and Patialas—which are loose, pleated trousers that trace their roots to North India, in case you’re curious), Redhu test-drives everything from epilators to acne spot-treatments. “Because no girl ever said, ‘I have enough beauty products,’” she tells us.
Here, Redhu tells us everything about New Delhi beauty trends, her favorite products, the best places to shop—and what’s coming next.
On her early influences:
Redhu, whose father served in the Indian Army, shuttled between a handful of northwestern Indian states as a child. “My earliest beauty icon was my mom with her fascinating face creams and pearls,” she recalls. “And when I discovered television, I remember being mesmerized by Princess Diana.”
On intertwining traditions and trends:
“Beauty products and trends endorsed by Bollywood celebrities will always have mass pull in India,” says Redhu, referring to the world’s largest film industry—and its gorgeous stars. A-lister Deepika Padukone often rocks the geek chic look, pairing spectacles with understated eye shadow, while Aussie import Lisa Haydon and her perpetually luminous skin have sent bronzer sales skyrocketing.
“There’s also a rising interest in Ayurvedic beauty and people want to move away from chemicals,” Redhu tells us. Her go-tos include TruSelf Organics’s Detoxifying Mask ($22.50, truselforganics.com), a combination of six different clays and volcanic ash, and Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Brightening Face Scrub ($40, kamaayurveda.com), crafted from an ancient herbal blend. For a simple follicular pick-me-up, she mixes pantry staples like olive and almond oil, then applies them to her hair for regular deep conditioning.
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“A bold red lip has always looked good, but has not really been spotted much in Delhi—though that’s changing now,” Redhu tells us. “It’s fun to see girls wearing lip colors they like without giving a damn about what others might think!” Akanksha especially loves “Red Hot” a creamy matte lipstick shade by locally renowned hairstylist and makeup artist, Ambika Pillai, whose six salons are scattered across the city.
On good hair days:
“I love that people are now open to experimenting with hair colors that go beyond sober browns and blacks,” says Redhu, hinting at a citywide craze. “And under-cuts, which look so good!” Her own swingy, shoulder-length locks (which she dyed ash-blonde for a Cosmopolitan makeover last year) are currently colored a pale ginger. “I like to use natural shampoos that are paraben and sulphate free to reduce the chemical load,” she continues. To combat New Delhi’s subtropical temps—read: humidity alert!—Redhu skips the comb and blow dries with a diffuser instead.
And, where to shop if you’re in town:
To score her beauty picks, Redhu recommends strolling through Select CityWalk, a succession of sleek boutiques in posh South Delhi, and the Khan Market outpost of Goodearth, a national chain that stocks plenty of skin-friendly treats.