Beauty | Why oil is my hair and skin saviour this season

With its soaring popularity in recent times, oil has come to be a new-age beauty fix of some kind. From the rose gold speckled elixir that's spotted all over Instagram to the celebrity favoured dark Josie Maran bottle, it seems like a dressing table is incomplete without a beauty oil on it. From applying it as a serum to moisturising one's lips prior to swiping on liquid lipstick, there isn't a single beauty addict who hasn't experienced oil in their hair or skin care routine, in some way or another.

Image of a woman's hands holding the Moroccan Oil Treatment Original bottle, L'Oreal Paris Skin Perfection Micellar Water and Johnson's Baby Oil against a brown background in sunlight

So how did the human population decide to suddenly bestow oil with a badge of honour as a fixer of frizzy hair and moisturiser of dry skin? Well, for one it isn't a modern discovery at all. Back in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is have said to favour olive and sesame oil. From my own experience as an Indian woman, oil being used in beauty treatments is far from new. In fact, my earliest memory of it is from head massages with coconut oil during my school days, which was enough to leave me mellowed and relaxed for the rest of the day. As per Indian tradition, even new mothers and their babies receive oil massages to stimulate their blood circulation and firm their skin.

Image of a coconut speaking about uses of coconut oil humourously in a beauty meme

The revival of beauty oil is one I saw coming. So the recent popularity of the liquid in beauty; be it as a massager, an oil pulling base or a moisturiser, made me happy to see the industry go back to its roots. Even with an oily skin type and scalp, the substance has been a permanent part of my beauty routine, whether it's on trend or not. As I consider myself an OG oil obsessor of sorts, today I'm telling you about my favourite hair and beauty oils plus how my adoration for them began.

Image of a woman's hands holding a Johnson's Baby Oil bottle against a brown background in sunlight

As with most babies, my connection with Johnson's began at infancy with their creamy soaps and comforting lotions . Little did I know, decades later I'd be going back to where it all began, albeit for a different skin of skin care. Since my skin type is generally oily, moisturising is an area that I can sometimes afford to cut some slack in because sebum has my back. So it was unprecedented one winter, when I noticed that my limbs were dry and flaky. While lotion is something I procrastinate with using until I step outside, I zeroed in on Johnson's Baby Oil to moisturise my skin through the night without leaving me sticky. All it took were a few applications to find that the lightweight baby oil left my skin supple, shiny and as fragrant as a new born!

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm a whole hearted supporter of coconut oil and for that, I'm eternally grateful to my grandmother and mother for always having a bottle on hand. While my love affair with it began in childhood, it bloomed when I hit adulthood. Lip scrub? Add a little brown sugar to it and scrub away. Spa day? Nothing like my favourite head massage to top it off. In the past few years, I've also trusted the pure handmade oil as a make up remover for my oily, sensitive skin. After trying scores of dual phased removers, till date there's nothing that melts even the most high coverage make up like my favourite coconut oil.

Image of the Moroccan Oil Treatment Original bottle against a brown background in sunlight

Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File

If the inclusion of micellar water seems like an odd fit to this list, let me explain. By definition, micelles are oil cleansing molecules which form the gentle substance by attracting impurities and drawing them out of the skin. The L'Oreal Skin Perfection Micellar Water seemed like the natural choice for my sensitive skin and I couldn't have been more right! It leaves the skin fresh after easily cleansing away make up, sits lightly on the face when used as a toner and doesn't feel greasy or harsh for a second.

Possibly the most renowned hair oil out there, I first discovered MorrocanOil Treatment Original at the Taj Salon. At first I wrote it off as one of those overrated beauty products that people buy because of the hype but it was only until I tried it that I realised how wrong I was. Other than leaving the hair with a delectable fragrance, this Argan Oil infused wonder soothes frizz in a jiffy, adds a glossy finish and leaves hair so smooth, you'll want to keep running your fingers through it. If there's only one review you trust, make it this one because the MorrocanOil Treatment is the hair oil, serum and styling potion that good hair days are made off. 


Personal Style | Daily diary: edition 3

The more attention I pay to my daily dressing, the more I realise the effort that goes into it. As I work in an office environment and meet people constantly, I realised that I can't just throw on the first thing I feel like. Those sweat pants and tank tops just have to wait until the weekend. Also, unlike an outfit shoot for Style File, there's more activity involved. And by activity, I mean real life - schlepping it in the train, walking to the station and sweating in the sun. With that kind of busyness, there's no time to teeter in high heels, wear an impractical dress or flaunt a full face of makeup. Every woman who steps out every morning will know it to be true.

Image of fashion blogger's outfit in frames on black and white background with text of what I wore

But that's the beauty of daily dressing - it is real and relatable. It can withstand the searing sun, streams of sweat, plenty of walking and still ensure you look groomed. And while it may not be as glamourous or airbrushed as a shoot, it's realistic and practical. In the 3rd edition of my daily diaries, here's how I keep it real.

Image of female indian fashion blogger wearing printed plimsols and tote bag with neon crop top and white skinny jeans

Possibly the boldest look I've worn in ages, I wore this merger of print mixing and colour blocking to a previous Lakmé Fashion Week edition. The location made blending into the crowd easier and actually turned out to be very comfortable!
{Crop top previously seen here}

Image of female indian fashion blogger wearing grey polka dot dress with black accessories, sunglasses and pink lipstick

Give me a sun dress with my favourite print on it and I'm sold! Since my blue FitBit has been my recent obsession, expect it to peek through in future outfits too. Minimal accessories and a pink lip were all I needed for a Sunday lunch.

Image of female indian fashion blogger wearing off shoulder blouse, shorts and fur charm on transparent sling bag with reflectve sunglasses

The absolute joy you can see on my face is all because this was my first day of vacation back home. It was the most wonderful time, where all I did was relax and take in the sunshine - hence the off shoulders and sliders.
{Tutorial for DIY transparent bag here}

Image of female indian fashion blogger wearing high waist trousers, black pumps and sheer polka dot blouse with a bob haircut

After demolishing a season of Goliath in a single weekend, it was bound to inspire me in the week ahead. So when I had to attend a formal 'do; I, obviously, channelled my inner Callie Senate and paired my freshly cropped hair with high waist trousers and a sheer blouse.
{Polka dot sheer blouse previously seen here}

Image of female indian fashion blogger wearing a little black dress, gold shoes and denim jacket and black satchel bag

This has got to be one of my favourite looks in recent times mainly because of its chic yet casual vibe, which is very me. While I kept the palette in black and gold, the denim jacket and red lip definitely added a cool girl edge.
{Denim jacket previously seen here}


Style Files | A beginner's guide to acing a fashion job interview

After endless phone calls and bated breath, you've finally managed to bag an interview with the publication/design studio/fashion designer you've only dreamed of working with. So you imagine yourself sashaying through the door, looking fabulous from top to toe, charming the CEO in five minutes flat and being told that you're hired instantly. Because that's probably how fashion interviews work, right? Wrong.

An image of a black givenchy handbag on a wooden table along with a money plant, starbucks coffee, note book and pen

During my job application process, I repeatedly heard how easy fashion interviews must be because 'you just have to be well-dressed' or how 'it's so much easier compared to a real interview'. Multiple interviews and jobs later, those words couldn't be any further from the truth. Like any other interview in hospitality, I.T. or management, fashion interviews are expansive and gruelling. My previous beginner's guide spoke how you can get a foothold in the industry so this edition is the next step to actualise your fashion dreams. If you've finally cinched that coveted interview, you already know how important it is to nail it. That's now possible with a little help from the collective wisdom I've learned through the years.

a gif video of a bird appearing for a job interview with desirable qualities and then being hired
Prep steps

Congratulations, you got the interview! Now all that's left is to turn it into a job. For that, being prepared is top priority. I've previously spoken about how I generally like to put my best foot forward. To do that in an interview, I compile a list of probable questions that could be asked to help me stay one step ahead of the game. Read up on the current affairs of the industry as well as on the happenings of the company you are interviewing with. Look up the location on Google Maps a day prior and estimate your travel time so that on the d-day, you won't be late or lost in an alley.

Interview baggage

In all likelihood, you won't be walking into the interview arms a-swinging because you'll need to carry your necessary tools and paper work. Prior to the day, find out from HR what documentation you need and carry it on A4 sized colour prints. If you're showing your interviewer a soft copy of your work, carry it on a pen drive with your laptop because you never know if you'll have access to one. The trick to staying calm in the final minutes before the interview is to go completely prepared for any eventuality so that nothing can possibly fluster you.

An image of a young woman wearing white crochet and maroon corduroy pants, leather tote handbag and loafers in front of wooden gate

Appearance is key

Thankfully, fashion is a fairly lenient industry when it comes to dressing so restricting yourself to a white shirt and black trousers isn't necessary. Your appearance is an area where you can allow your personality to shine through - in limits of course. Depending on the dress code of the office (another point to ask your HR personnel about), it's safe to wear formal clothing or smart casuals. This could be well-fitted trousers in dark tones, delicate printed shirts, midi skirts in muted tones and pastel shift dresses. Avoid heels completely - this is an interview, not a Friday night at the club. Instead, ballet flats or minimal sandals should do the trick. For your make up, opt for light skin coverage, a simple swipe of eye liner, a mauve toned lip and groomed, light coloured nails.

Interview etiquette

You know how they say that first impressions are the last impressions? Well, it's highly applicable to your interview. The very first time you meet the interviewer could be just the time for you to create an impact and get hired. From the second you walk into the door, be on your best behaviour. Wait patiently in the lobby, no matter how long it takes without getting disgruntled. Hold doors open for others and seat yourself properly. Switch your phone on silent and tuck it away in your hand bag. Remember everything you've learned about saying please, thank you and sorry because courtesy will hold you in good steed, during your interview and in life too.

An image of motivational girl boss quote in black over a pink water colour background

Photography: Leo Alemao / Style File

The moment of truth

You've finally entered a spacey conference room with swinging glass doors. You've made it to this point with a cheerful demeanour and no untoward incident whatsoever. This is it - the tipping point that could open every door you've ever wanted. So start with a polite smile and firm hand shake to open the conversation on a pleasant note. Maintain a healthy balance of eye contact, without verging on creepy. When asked for an introduction, speak about your education, previous work places and relevant assignments. In a first interview, expect to be the one doing most of the talking. In the second and third one onwards, you can discuss details of allowances, salaries and leave days. Lastly, while I have stressed on the importance of being knowledgeable, it deserves to be doubly highlighted. There's absolutely no substitute for being well-read, which is bound to start your journey on the right foot.

So if you're heading for a fashion interview, I wish you a tonne of luck and hope my experience helps you bag the job of your dreams.


Beauty | My resolutions for 2017

While it may get more over-hyped each time around, there's something so exciting about a new year. Just like my enchantment for beginnings, I'm a happy clam when the 1st of January rolls around. Remember what it felt like to write on the first page of a new notebook? Or when your car still had that delightful 'new car' smell? That's what the start of the year feels like to me. While savouring the novelty of the new year, penning down a resolution or two is not beyond me. Of course, I struggle to keep them alive shortly after but that doesn't make the process any less exciting.

My resolutions have always hovered around exercise and sleep (or the lack of them) but I knew that in 2017, I wanted to try for more than just squats and 8 hours of snooze time. As a beauty editor during the day and a blogger by night, reviewing lipsticks and researching hormonal functions have become second nature to me. So while walking fiercely into the year, I've decided to dedicate a few of my resolutions solely to that of make-up, hair and what I hope for my beauty routine in the next 365 days ahead.

Woman smiles while wearing cat eye sunglasses with red lips, layered gold necklace and red strapless dress

Find my right fit

A good make-up routine is akin to pair of blue denims. One size doesn't fit all, it needs numerous trial room visits and the reliable ol' staples are always there when you need a back-up option. Apart from my dual jobs, I'm also a beauty enthusiast, which means I'm always trying new and sometimes not so exciting things. As I work my way through new launches; in 2017, I'd like to find my beauty footing. Like a good pair of skinny jeans, I'd like to add to my collection of reliable bottles that fit my skin type which I can bank upon.

Quote by author roald dahl about smiling, sun shine and positivity

Gorgeous, inside and out

I've learned more and more through the years that even the fanciest brushes and luxury creams cannot do for your face what a good heart can. As cliched as it may be, I'm a big believer in your body reflecting what's on the inside. So if you are a genuinely good person who is happy, kind and positive - it will show instantly. Apart from just its beauty implications, the world definitely needs more people like that. So this year, keeping my heart and soul open for new experiences is at the top of my list.

Image of a woman wearing a black flat rimmed hat over short hair with a strap blouse

 Care comes first

Maybe its because of an exceptionally busy week, back-to-back occasions or even just laziness, sometimes I forget to give my hair its due nourishment. No, I'm not talking shampooing and conditioning which makes its appearance every night - it is hot oiling, clarifying my scalp and applying a hair mask that I'm on about. After the cycle of styling and sun exposure, I can feel my hair parched and craving a long sip of hydration. To finally put hair care before hair styling, my 2017 is going to see my tresses getting much more nourishment.

Image of Rimmel cosmetics scandaleyes show off mascara and mascara wand in front of a bright green background

Leaving black behind

The first make-up technique I learned during my school days was applying kajal to my lash line for a smouldering eye make-up look. While I've grown into cat eyes and fluttery lashes since then, I've always turned to jet black for just about any look. This year, I plan to change that by finally dipping into the blues, coppers and emeralds which lie within my dresser. While so many coloured shadows and liner have remained nothing more than props, this year I'm going to wean myself off black and pick up the champagne toned eye pencil instead.

Image of a woman wearing silvery smokey eye makeup and fluttery lashes with a nude frost lipstick and graduated bob hairstyle on a silver glitter dress in front a Christmas tree

Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File
Skincare > Make-up

In the quest for a flawlessly made-up face, there's more collateral damage than I'd like to admit. This translates to a heap of unsuitable foundations and concealers in the wrong shade that lie in beauty purgatory somewhere on my dresser. It was during this journey I learned that if you've got good skin to begin with, facial make-up serves merely as an enhancer and not a base. While I've had issues with my skin (a story which I'll save for another day), I've begun hammering them out and putting skin care at the top of my list of beauty priorities.


Personal Style | Epilogue

If I could describe the past year in one word, I'd probably call it 'momentous'; even if it hasn't always been for the right reasons. I mean, why would it! From most Indians spending hours in snaking queues to a real estate mogul turning into a president elect, 2016 dropped the bar like it was hot. Even the genius of George Micheal and Carrie Fisher weren't spared in its wake. With a year like that, going out with a bang seems inapplicable, right? Wrong. No matter how terrible it may seem, there's nothing that fashion can't fix.

Even on the most trying days (or years, in this case) dig deep inside to fix yourself up, slip on your killer heels and walk into a room like you own the damn place. So it's been a dismal 365 days to say the least; but it deserves a fitting send-off nonetheless - if not for the year that was but at least for the year that will be. Regardless of how 2016 fared for you, it's time to bring out the calligraphy pen and write a fitting epilogue to it. My instruments of choice are a heap of sequins and a classic red lip.

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

H&M matte sequin slip dress | Zara trench coat | Adidas Originals Stan Smith Sneakers [Previously seen here] | Kazo Sling Bag | Revlon 'Knotty Berry' nail polish | L'Oreal Paris Collection Star Pure Reds 'Pure Scarleto' lipstick [Previously seen here]

  Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

Image of woman wearing winter fashion clothing with a Zara beige trench coat, H&M black sequin dress and white Adidas Originals Stan Smith sneakers with red lipstick, burgundy nail polish and wavy bob hairstyle

2016 has been a year of learning for me. Tip-toeing into a career, carving out time for hobbies, lending Style File more of my touch and pushing my personal style boundaries were just a few of the paths taken. From discovering new fashion icons to trying a vampy lip, this year was also one of experimentation; one of which led to this trench coat. While I bought it on a whim with no foreseeable place to wear it; (thanks for that, Mumbai humidity!) it was the first thing I could think of when a light chill hit the city. Of course, I was apprehensive about the merger of sequins and sneakers but then again, it is the party season and everything is allowed ! For an added flair, I went with metallic accessories, a messy bob and dark nails. Together, it's a look that's doesn't discriminate between a night of dancing or a morning workout, whatever be your interest.

So whether your year was a complete drag or a cake walk  dotted with cherries, this is your chance to give it a fitting farewell. As I write my epilogue to a year full of new experiences, thank you for lending your digital presence to Style File, for your endless double taps and comments which is worth every single word I pen down. Here's to a spectacular end to 2016 and an even better 2017!


DIY | Homemade vanilla extract

If I could bottle the scent of the holidays, it would be my most treasured fragrance. That cosy smell of cinnamon sprinkles and gingerbread men is enough to make me carol my heart out even in the midst of the summer! Especially during December, it's no surprise to be welcomed home by the smell of vanilla, wafting from the kitchen. So when I do get down to baking (as rare as that maybe!), I always prefer using natural vanilla, which has that deliciously warm scent to boot.

What hampers that however, is the fact that most organic and natural products; both Indian and international, are either inaccessible or exorbitantly priced. Realising that I wanted to neither compromise on quality nor have to pay a ridiculous sum of money, I arrived at the idea of making my own vanilla extract. Versus the readily available vanilla essence, the extract of vanilla contains the actual bean extracts and not just its synthetic flavour. It is an obvious first choice when baking or cooking with the only setback being how unavailable and expensive it is. So after discussing it with my friend Roanna and sifting through various methods to make it, I got down to business and hand made my very own bottle of pure vanilla extract.

Step 1 - Gather your supplies

An image of vodka, a knife and vanilla beans isolated on a wooden table to make a do it yourself project of how to make vanilla extract at home

With a tutorial as simple as this one, the right supplies are crucial. Vanilla beans; which are most important, are available in most international food stories. While some of them arrive all the way from Tahiti and Madagascar, mine have been sourced from the local Goan markets. When it comes to the vodka, quality won't affect it so getting out the Grey Goose won't be necessary. Instead, a mid-range bottle of unflavoured vodka is all your need. Finally, your sharp knife is handy, keep that patience ready too because this is going to be a waiting game, my friends.

Step 2 - Slice 'em

An image of a woman's hands holding a knife and slicing open a vanilla bean placed in a decorative plate on a wooden table to make a do it yourself project of how to make vanilla extract at home

Start by placing a vanilla pod on a flat surface steadily and using just the tip of your knife, slice it vertically right down the middle. This opens the bean and makes its flavour more accessible so repeat the slicing for each one of them. The ends of the pods are tough to chop open so I've either sliced it completely or separated them. Finding the right ratio of vanilla pods to vodka is crucial so I've used 3 full pods for 60 ml of vodka to give a pleasant extract without overpowering it.

Step 3 - Dunk it  

An image of vanilla beans immersed in a bottle of vodka to make a do it yourself project of how to make vanilla extract at home

Now simply immerse your vanilla pods in the vodka while making sure they are completely submerged with no ends sticking out. Since I'm creating a small batch, I've made the extract in the vodka bottle itself. If you are creating yours in a different bottle by adding the vanilla pods and vodka to it, pick your bottle carefully which didn't contain anything with a strong scent or anything inedible. Once you do, wash the bottle, sanitise it in hot water and dry it in direct sunlight before carrying out this tutorial.

Step 4 - Seal and store away

An image of a woman labelling a bottle of vanilla extract to make a do it yourself project of how to make vanilla extract at home

Finally, slap a label on the bottle (so that no one mistakes it for an creepy crawly growing!) and name it. Now here's where the patience part comes in. The vanilla extract will take a minimum of 6 weeks for an abundant flavour to set in. During this time, it needs to be stored in dark cupboard, away from direct sunlight. During the first week itself, the bottle will turn a pale ochre shade and will get darker as time goes by. Post 6 weeks, taste test a few drops to judge if the flavour is robust enough. If not, store it back away and wait for a few more weeks.

An image of pure vanilla extract on a wooden table to make a do it yourself project of how to make vanilla extract at home

 Photography: Raynor Pereira / Style File

If this isn't December in a bottle, I don't know what is. Now if only I could turn it into a perfume! I hope you enjoyed creating your vanilla extract and I'm sure, even in the middle of May, one whiff of this baby will remind you of a cold December night.



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