Brighten your Wednesday with a Jolie Asie interview, this week with my dear mother Ratna! I stole a few quiet minutes of relaxation Sunday evening to chat with her about her beauty tips.
Meg: What is your number one beauty secret?
Ratna: I’ve always washed my face at night and applied cream or lotion to my face, and to my body too.
You are over fifty and still get carded at parties. How do you stay young?
Ratna: I eat healthy food. I enjoy healthy food! I drink plenty of water. I drink two cups of tea a day, stay away from fats (for the most part). I have always exercised, since I was a teenager; not vigorously, you know, but at least walking. I NEVER over-indulge! I’ve never eaten oily, greasy foods. I am a strict creature of habit. I generally enjoy the same foods at the same time, and prefer to go to bed at the same time. And again, I apply lotion to my face and body every day, twice a day- once in the morning, and once in the evening after I’ve washed my face off to prepare for the night.
What are your diet and exercise regimens like?
Ratna: Carbs are my favorite! (laughs) So I know I have to control what I eat! I have to think deliberately about including protein in my diet. The protein in my diet generally consists of milk and milk products, beans, dals- legumes- and a couple of eggs a week. I also include the likes of chicken probably about once a week. I start my day out with some whole grain, fruit, and milk, soymilk, or cottage cheese. I also throw in some nuts, seeds, and include some dates and raisins to satisfy my sweet tooth- while getting some fiber. My morning snack, if any, consists of fruit.
For lunch, I usually have a very colorful salad with as many colored vegetables as I can find. Again, topped with some nuts, a bit of cheese, and grapes or dried fruit to make it an enjoyable feast. I supplement that with a whole grain slice of bread, so that I don’t get hungry in half an hour. It’s either that or a bean and vegetable soup. Often, I have cereal and soymilk for an afternoon snack. Dinner generally consists of Indian food: roti and vegetable, rice and dal, or some combination thereof, with raw vegetables on the side.
I exercise at least six days a week. For about six months out of the year, my exercise consists of a two-mile walk [outside], but I am also a very busy person. I am on my feet many hours of the day, for several hours. I don’t have a stationary lifestyle, and that gets included as a part of my exercise routine. The other six months, I generally rely on exercise videos which include light weights, lunges, squats, and a little bit of treadmill and elliptical.
What is your advice for me and other young women who want to preserve their youthful looks?
Ratna: Wash your face, put lotion! Do not leave makeup on a moment more than necessary, and make sure you have conditioned your face. Don’t over-indulge in ANYTHING, whether it is chocolate, or greasy foods, or chips, or alcohol: don’t do too much of any one thing. Also drinks lots of water and a cup of tea.
What is your skincare routine?
Ratna: I do on occasion apply besan [gram flour] and haldi [turmeric] to my face, and I always feel like my face is brighter and tighter after that “treatment”. I have never had a facial in my life, never. I use Clinique bar soap to wash my face twice a day.
Name some of your favorite beauty products.
Ratna: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Estee Lauder DayWear SPF 15, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum (for firming skin), MAC Mineralize Foundation SPF 15, Estee Lauder Compact Powder (I’ve used it for bazillion years!), Clinique or Estee Lauder lipsticks.
How do you care for your hair?
Ratna: Through experimentation, I learnt that you can train your hair to get washed only twice a week, and yet maintain reasonable fullness. I have also learnt that it’s better to mix up shampoos, switch products, because somehow your hair learns to get annoyed by a single product. I also condition my hair; actually, I think I am a little more particular about a conditioner than I am about a shampoo. I’ve tried some expensive shampoos and, believe me, it’s no use spending money on them. I really like the Pantene 5-Minute conditioning mask.
What is the biggest beauty mistake people make, and how can they avoid it?
Ratna: They follow fashion trends, they don’t necessarily choose what works for THEM. Because if you are choosing what works for you, you are going to be looking beautiful even if the things you are wearing may not be what is out there in the market.
How have your beauty routines changed since you were a young girl growing up in India?
Ratna: When I was growing up, I did not use much else beyond an eye pencil and a compact powder. I continued doing that through even my twenties, thirties, and forties. Of late, I have started using a foundation to give me a little bit better coverage. The products I used in my teens and early twenties have changed, but since my mid-twenties I have been using Clinique products and I have not changed that, and I never will. But, I have added the SPF products because in my forties I started feeling the need to protect my skin from the sun.
What are your basic fashion staples?
Ratna: My basic fashion staples are a nice pair of slacks… I dress in layers, so I always have a short-sleeve or long-sleeve cotton or silk blouse with a complementing sweater, whether it’s cotton or wool on top, so that I can manage my body temperature effectively. In summer, I enjoy wearing sleeveless maxi dresses. For dress-up, I enjoy wearing a variety of Indian clothes- saris and salwars. I do not particularly enjoy to wear blues, browns, or even yellows. I like all shades of pink, purple, and red.