Culturally Significant Beauty for the Modern Indian-American Woman

Paula Sesay

As a professional, modern Indian American woman, it can be challenging to retain one's cultural traditions. Incorporating traditional Indian techniques into your beauty routine can help maintain those connections to a rich and fulfilling heritage. Although trendy, readily available American beauty products can be alluring, tried-and-true Indian methods and ingredients can provide fulfilling alternative to artificial products. 

Michelle Ranavat (founder of Ranavat Botanics) and Nina Davuluri (cofounder of Aavrani and the first Indian American woman to become Miss America) both emphasize a holistic approach to beauty. Rather than focusing on applying external products for skin and hair care, you can incorporate components of Ayurveda into your routine. The fundamentals of an Ayurvedic lifestyle include recognizing the power of your mind to heal your body, as well as consuming a diet of diverse foods, obtaining peaceful sleep, and reducing stress. 

High-end beauty products can be enticing, but bear in mind the many simple household ingredients that have proven effective. Acclaimed actress Priyanka Chopra still uses traditional recipes passed down from her mom, Madhu. They enjoy pampering their skin with a classic Indian Ubtan face mask that contains turmeric and rosewater, both renowned for their anti-inflammatory benefits. The whole wheat flour, lime juice, and full-fat yogurt in the mask also help to clarify and moisturize. 

To remove her makeup and cleanse her skin, Chopra uses hydrating coconut oil. Another nutrient-rich oil that has contributed to Ayurvedic medicine is amla (Indian gooseberry) oil—another staple of Indian American kitchens. Occasionally substituting your store-bought conditioner for this oil (abundant in Vitamin C, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants) will help you strengthen and deeply hydrate your hair. You may also appreciate an intermittent break from your usual toothbrushing routine with a natural toothpaste containing neem, used for centuries in India for healthy teeth and the prevention of gum disease.

Entrepreneurs such as the co-founder of AVYA Skincare, Deepika Vyas, are merging traditional Indian beauty ingredients with modern luxury products to benefit all women of color. Typical ingredients include peony flower for reducing hyperpigmentation, turmeric for detoxification, and neem for soothing inflamed skin. 

Retaining your cultural identity while remaining open to new ethnic influences is an ideal mindset for navigating success—for women of all cultures.