Every other weekend when I was a kid, my parents would hustle my sisters and me down to Gerrard, a strip in east Toronto known as "Little India." My mother would shuffle from store to store, gathering up everything from brightly colored spices and fresh meat to fragrant hair oils and boxes of powdered henna. As adults, my sisters and I continue that ritual every so often, with a special interest in the natural beauty buys this special part of town has to offer.
While most of the beauty world is focused on the high-tech innovations coming out of South Korea — from alphabet creams to skin-sloughing lotions — another resurgence is taking place, one that looks squarely toward the past for its beauty inspiration. Don't get me wrong, I, too, am a firm believer in the power of Seoul's spas
and serums, but there's something special about tapping into India's ancient remedies and beauty secrets
, which have stood the test of time.
While oil cleansing and herbal treatments may seem new to our pharmacy aisles, women in India have been practicing natural beauty treatments for centuries, from ayurvedic recipes tailor-made for different skin and body types to the beautifying, spice-based rituals used by everyone from Bollywood stars to teens in Mumbai. And, if it's good enough for Aishwarya Rai, it's good enough for me.
So, whether it inspires a visit to your own Little India or a closer look at the shelves of your corner shop, here is a beginner's guide to some of the best beauty rituals from the subcontinent. Ahead, we rounded up some of our favorite ready-made Indian beauty buys, plus some tips on how to make DIY treatments at home. Read on to learn why India is a total beauty hot spot.
Illustrations by Ly Ngo