I grew up in England and I used to come to India every year. One of the things I used to love most about those trips as a kid was going to the Oberoi beauty salon, Silhouette, for an oil massage and a pedicure. I would be like, “Oh my god, all of this for under £15!” (Laughs) My mum’s always been very particular about hair so I have to admit I’ve been getting my hair blow dried since I was 14 or 15, even when I lived in England. So I guess I’ve been going to salons forever. The joke with my friends is that if they can’t get a hold of me, I’m probably at the salon. It’s always a great time to get a foot massage because why not, you’re already there.
I’m a spa junkie on holiday - my husband and I went to a spa for our honeymoon, the Soneva Kiri. It’s really quite special. I find that I don’t have the time for spas otherwise, so I do what I call maintenance spa work. For blow dries, I try and find a nice salon around the corner. In London I lived in St. John’s Wood so I had one on St. John’s Wood high street, in Bombay it was one in Breach Candy and here in Delhi I go to a small salon in Meharchand Market called Shampoo 88. There’s a girl called Rebecca who does my hair and a guy there who does a great foot massage. For me the important thing is that it’s got to be done in 20 minutes.
When it comes to cut and colour, the only person who touches my hair is Rod Anker at The Claridges Surajkund. No one else is allowed! I used to only cut and colour it when I went to London or Dubai - since I met Rod, half a Sunday every month is now blocked off for him. I always wash my own hair before the salon. I don’t think anyone can wash your hair as well as you can. I have this thing about it. Between blow dries I put my hair in rollers and put it in a shower cap and hop in the shower - the heat sets it and gives it volume, because I have really straight, lifeless hair otherwise. I use the Frédéric Fekkai Full Blown Volume Shampoo and if I know I’m traveling I mix it with the Clarifying Shampoo as well. I love mixing my own things. It makes me feel like I’m a beauty expert. (Laughs)
I mix serums, too. At night I mix Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair with Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and the Forest Essentials Soundarya serum. I love the smell of the Kiehl’s one, it’s really soothing and it makes you feel like it’s time for bed because it has this beautiful lavender scent. I find the Estée one is good for just about anything, and it’s something that generations of women have used and loved, so you can’t go wrong with it. The Forest Essentials one just really gives your skin this great glow. If I’m going for a wedding or it’s a really special night or I have a big shoot the next day I use the Kiehl’s Overnight Biological Peel instead of the mix of serums.
I’m trying to be as ‘made in India’ as possible when it comes to my skincare right now, especially during the day. I do all my facials at Blossom Kochhar, right opposite the Taj Palace. There’s one girl there called Along and I’m out in thirty-five, forty minutes. Time is off the essence for me and I want something good but quick. I love oxygen facials, but I haven’t found a great place here. I also use Blossom’s Aroma Magic Mint Cleanser and my everyday moisturiser is by her as well, the Aloe Vera Sunscreen Gel.
Karishma (Manga-Bedi, Forest Essentials) says my face may be Blossom’s but my body is hers. (Laughs) So I use the Forest Essentials scrubs in the shower. They have several and I switch them regularly. If it’s winter and my skin is dry or if it’s the height of summer, when I do aqua aerobics which dries my skin out because of all the chlorine, then the scrub’s not enough so I also use a Forest Essentials body oil. Then I put on the Kiehl’s Double Strength Visible Wrinkle Filler in the places I think need to be filled.
I’ve stopped wearing foundation unless I’m going out in the evening, when I use the Smashbox foundation in M2. During the day I use a bit of MAC’s concealer in NC45. You always get a bit of concealer left on your hand and I don’t like it to go to waste, so I mix it with Benefit’s That Girl, which is my pick-me-up, I love it. I’m not too fussy about blush, I’ll usually use what I have lying around, something from Estée Lauder or Chanel. I’m a huge sucker for the 60s so whenever eyeliner comes back in style, I’m really happy to put on a winged eye. I’m loving the Chanel Intense Black eyeliner, part of the Paris Bombay collection. Then it’s a quick swipe with the Chanel eyelash brush and Lancôme's Doll Eyes mascara. My lipglosses are either by Kevin Aucoin or MAC. I do a lot of purple makeup because it’s my favourite colour, so in the evening I’ll do a lot of eyeliner and eyeshadow in that shade. Yeah, sometimes you’ll see me go a bit mad with purple. And if goth’s big at the moment, like it was for Fall / Winter 2012, I’ll have a bit of fun with it with purple on my nails - I especially love Vendetta by Chanel. I try to keep my nail polish light when I’m traveling so if it chips it doesn’t look yucky - Chanel’s Lilac Sky is a great shade that works with everything.
I love beauty samples, they’re so handy when you’re traveling. Whenever I buy something from Kiehl’s I always ask for smaller versions or samples - I normally have the Midnight Recovery Concentrate in my bag for the flight, which I’ll sometimes mix with something from the Kiehl’s Acai range.
As told to Komal Basith. Sujata Assomull-Sippy photographed by Komal Basith in New Delhi.