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Too often women are robbed of the pleasure of speaking about the things we love, the tools that spark our creativity and make us feel at home in our own skin. Fashion is one of those topics; beauty is another. This is particularly frustrating given that both hold immense cultural significance and foster community. There's something beautifully intimate about sharing your favorite scent, or the way your mother used to plait your hair.

As a result, I’ve been having conversations with people I admire on their beauty routines. It’s exhilarating to see the spark of excitement in their eyes as they talk about the tips they have, the products they’ve tried. I had the privilege of speaking with actress Charithra Chandran, who’s Vogue video I must have watched a dozen times. Ahead: the nostalgic scent of jasmine and a purse spilling over with lip gloss.

Amanda: What is your skin like? Do you have combination skin, oily, dry? 

Charithra: I had eczema as a child. And like a lot of brown people who are immigrants, like myself, my skin is naturally very dry and does not react well to the cold weather. And so while I don't have eczema anymore, I do have fairly dry skin and it’s especially quite sensitive around my eyes.

A: You're not alone. 

C: And it's so interesting. Right? It's a reminder that we're not from here. You know? 

A: Yeah. This is not our natural habitat, so to speak. I get that. Are there products or rituals you find consistently helpful? What do you use on your face in terms of a cleanser? 

C: I love makeup but I can be really lazy with skincare and try to simplify as much as possible. There is this TikToker that I'm obsessed with. She's a trans woman living in New York and has the most amazing makeup skills I've ever seen. And while she's a white woman, she has very similar skin components to mine in that it’s very dry. She always recommends the Fresh rose hydrating toner and that has been a godsend. I use it in the morning and at night and it really revives my skin. It's so hydrating. In the mornings I go in with the Sunday Riley eye cream and then I'll do oh, God, it's quite bougie actually, the Augustinus Bader face cream. I use Shiseido sun cream. I'll also go for the Emma Hardy vitamin c serum and when I use that consistently, I get so many compliments on my glow.

A: If you're traveling for work and your skin's being problematic, is there something that you use to immediately calm your skin down? 

C: I love a little facial mist. Really organized people bring face masks and remember to do them. But for me, a face mist is so speedy and really refreshing. 

A: What about your makeup? What's your go-to for your brows, your complexion? I watched your Vogue beauty video, and you were so amazing at applying your makeup. It was just so flawless. 

C: Thank you. I really love makeup, and my mom loved it too. It's something that I inherited from her. I remember she was obsessed with MAC because back then, that was one of the only brands that catered to our skin tone. Right? She would have all the lip liners, all the eyeshadows. We still have some of them. 

I believe in mixing high and low. I don't think that everything has to be expensive. I’m learning that less is more, especially because I have to wear so much makeup for my job. But I have my makeup routine locked down. 

If I'm going for a full beat, I'll use the Milk hydrating gel primer and then the Bobbi Brown concealer stick, which I lightly apply like foundation and then buff in. Then I'll go in with the Bobbi Brown color corrector in red just around my eyes and my mustache area followed by the NARS radiant creamy concealer which is my go-to. I also really love the Stila face and lip products and I have them all in every color.. I remember I got all of mine from TK Maxx because for some reason they had everything on sale there for £5. I love Stila

A: I don't really see it anymore. It's such a great brand. 

C: Illamasqua and Stila for me. I think they are incredible but I guess they've been lost in the noise of the multitude of beauty brands out there right now. Most of the brands I buy are very OG. So, the Stila lip and face compact, Kevyn Aucoin contour, and then I use the Dior highlighting palette

And for eyebrows, all the popular products either are not strong enough or they're not for people with black eyebrows. I love using a latex-free eyelash glue. Brush them up, get it sticky, and then I'll go in with a brown mascara with a smaller wand and paint on top because I need industrial strength to keep my brows in place. 

A: That's a great tip for fuller brows!

C: I also love a creamy stick eyeshadow because you just wipe it on, pat it out, and you're ready to go. And then there’s Victoria Beckham's makeup. It is incredible. Sensational. Her lip products especially. Like, oh my god. 

A: Love! I've not tried her lip products, only the eyes and it is the best eyeliner I've ever used in my life. 

C: Yeah. Her eyeliners are sensational, and the lip gloss is really, really good. This is very important because I'm looking in my bag right now, and there are, like, three different glosses in there. To this day, I think Glossier’s clear gloss is the best one ever when layered over another product. And then there’s Morphe’s Big Sweet Tea gloss in a brownie nude. It’s very, very, very good. Nars gloss in NYMPHO is also amazing. 

A: What do you do with your nails? 

C: I bite them so they often look horrendous. And I get so many comments about how I leave my house with stubby nails. Like, everything else is on point and then there are my nails! I do like having some length and acrylic nails on top because it stops me from biting them. 

A: So do you do it yourself with press-ons, or do you go to get it professionally done? 

C: Because I get them done so rarely, and often it is for work, I must go to the salon and get them professionally done. 

A: What about your hair? What’s your favorite shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer? 

C: I am a typical Indian girl and try to oil my hair with coconut oil once a week, just before I wash it. If you don't like coconut oil, the Indē wild hair oil is amazing and I'm not just saying that because I'm friends with the owner. It’s genuinely amazing. It has fenugreek and a bunch of other seeds and essential oils in it. I really love Bare Necessities products. It’s really affordable for how amazing it is. Necessaire is another great haircare brand.

A: Do you have any beauty icons? 

C: That's so tricky. It feels like an easy out to say Rihanna because Rihanna is everybody's everything, but she truly is my icon.I think we've entered this culture of underdressing and uber informality, which I do not like. I want us to all dress up for everything. And I love that Rihanna will just be going out for dinner, and she'll be in a glam outfit. I love that she wears black lipstick and she goes for a bold eye. And not everything has to be “pretty” with her. You can do something for the creativity of it.  It makes me want to dress up more. 

A: Fragrance? I don't know if this may be too personal for you, you don't have to share. 

C: No. Don't worry. I’d love to share. I love fragrances that have some memory of childhood. And for me, a scent that reminds me of the women in my family is jasmine. Jasmine flowers specifically because that is the flower we wear in our hair for functions. So to be honest, I have a jasmine essential oil and I'll literally just rub it behind my ear and on my wrist. It is so fragrant and I get so many compliments. 

A: Wow. Where do you normally purchase it? 

C: Oh my god. Anywhere online. It’s not fancy or anything like that. There’s also the jasmine scent from Tom Ford and I love the Armani santal dan sha. It's so, so good. I’ve convinced both of my housemates to buy it. It is such a beautiful perfume. Not too sweet. I also love all of Tom Ford's leather perfumes. They’re just like sex in a bottle. It's so hot. And I love that all his perfumes are unisex. 

" I'm still on a journey of figuring that out and what that means is no more crash course diets. No more trying to lose 5 pounds if we're going on holiday. No more hating myself for what I eat. "

A: What's your diet like? 

C: I went to an all girls school. My family will openly admit that we're all on a journey of being less toxic when it comes to weight and appearance. We're all on a journey. I remember being on a diet at 7 years old and I am still trying to develop a healthier relationship with food. I think that I lived in such a scarcity mentality, and I don't mean scarcity for food, I've been privileged enough to not have to face that. I mean scarcity for things like sugar and treats and not actually listening to my hunger cues. We grew up in a generation of the “clean plate club” and were kind of taught to forego listening to our bodies about what we want to eat and how much of it we want to eat.

I'm still on a journey of figuring that out and what that means is no more crash course diets. No more trying to lose 5 pounds if we're going on holiday. No more hating myself for what I eat. Generally, I try to eat as little meat as possible, maybe once or twice a week. I try to mainly have vegetables. But I don't avoid any foods because I just don't think that's healthy or sustainable. I just try my best to have a well-rounded balanced diet with as little meat as possible. 

A: What's your relationship with sugar like? 

C: I love it. Oh, I love it. I'm such a chocoholic. And you know what, I've accepted that about myself, and I no longer see it as a vice. I remember at 15, I used to melt down a 100-gram bar of dairy milk and drink it every single day. Every single day. And I would sometimes miss dinner so I could do that, which is so fucked up. It's so raw and so unhealthy. Now I'm like, oh, I can just have one piece. But it's an ongoing journey. I love to cook, and I love to eat out at restaurants and explore new places.

A: What's your favorite meal to cook? Favorite drink? 

C: I love any kind of pasta dish. It’s the most versatile, comforting thing. And I love making lentils, vegetables and rice. That's what I grew up eating every day. 

And then for drinks, I love tequila. If it's a good tequila, tequila on the rocks is great. Otherwise, a spicy mezcal margarita, but I like it spicy. They make a great one at The Connaught in London. 

A: What do you do for exercise? 

C: I grew up playing a lot of sports. If I had the time, I would just play sports. I’d play tennis, I would join a netball league, I’d play badminton, I’d go to dance classes, but unfortunately, I just don't have that regularity in my life. So I go to dance classes whenever I can, I play tennis whenever I can, but for the most part, I do HIIT and Pilates.

A: I love Pilates! Is there a spa that you go to occasionally? Or are you not a spa girl? 

C: I am not a spa girl.  It's too bougie for me. But very rarely, I'll have a masseuse come over to my place or if I'm staying at a nice hotel, I'm like, oh, this a good excuse to have a massage. 

Charitha's Essentials - Skincare

Charitha's Essentials - Makeup

Charitha's Essentials - Lips