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In 2021, Deepika Padukone announced her plans to launch a lifestyle brand (name still under wraps) that will be “rooted in India.” While the concept will eventually extend into a wellness platform—reflecting Padukone’s passion for a holistic approach to health—the company will first launch with science-backed beauty and skincare products, available online worldwide, beginning this summer. Here, the actress and entrepreneur shares the journey that led her to founding the concept, the brands she feels inspired by, and why she believes India is on the precipice of a wellness revolution.
My first experiences with beauty were seeing my parents get ready for an evening out. Being that 6-year-old kid who's hanging by the door and watching them put on their finest. I'd see my mother do her beautiful eye makeup and apply her lipstick. I'll never forget those visuals. Then, when I was older and in school in Bangalore, we’d have plays or “fancy dress” competitions and my mom would take that lipstick and put it on my cheeks—a couple of dots on either cheek and smudge it out to give me that flushed look. Those really are my fondest memories of beauty: having my mother dress me up. She’s my starting point and inspiration for everything I do in beauty and fashion.
My mother and grandmother taught me “less is more.” Somehow, I feel like they never had to spell it out for me, but just in the way that I saw them carry themselves and conduct themselves. It was always elegant.
I'm a girl, at the end of the day, who loves dressing up and who loves wearing makeup. I think I've embraced both sides of my personality; there's a side of me who always likes to keep everything understated and the other side of me is “neon fuchsia gown on the Cannes red carpet.” So translating that to my new beauty brand, the looks may be dramatic but when it comes to skincare, less is more.
India has so many different beauty rituals that are unique to the country; traditions that have been passed down through generations and generations of women. My most favorite: the champi. Your grandmother or your mother or some elder oils your hair and massages your scalp. Sometimes you leave it in overnight and wash it off the next day. Sometimes you leave it in for a couple of hours. You can actually feel your head cooling down; your eyes start cooling. It's the most incredible feeling and there’s so much nostalgia attached to it.
There are so many more Indian beauty tricks and tips I value—that Indian women can teach the world. Like when you're out in the sun for too long, apply the cream that forms on top of the [unhomogenized] milk to your face. It’s great for sun-damaged skin. Or scrub your skin with a chopped tomato—it works like an exfoliation scrub. Another of my favorites: mix milk with turmeric and make a thick paste out of it. Apply it to your face, then wait for it to dry and wash it off. It has healing properties, and it's known to even out skin tone and give you this beautiful inner glow.
A beauty product—not sure if you can call it that—that I'm really fond of is baby powder. That's one of my rituals every night, before sleeping. I have a shower, and then I put baby powder on my body. I feel incomplete without it. I've been doing it for many, many years, but I can't remember the moment I actually started doing it... Now that I think about it, I feel like I grew up watching my mother do it.
I think the beauty and wellness industry in India is entering our most exciting phase. We're not as mature, market-wise, as the West, and, therefore, I think the timing for something like this brand is so beautiful. But there's definitely still a lot of work to be done in terms of diversity and inclusion and challenging the status quo. India is such an old country and there are so many years of this sort of conditioning—for instance, the promotion of skin-lightening creams. Have we progressed? One-hundred percent. Have brands taken cognizance of how they contributed to the problem? Are influencers on social media more aware of what creates that toxic culture? Are celebrities more conscious? One-hundred percent. We've certainly come a long way, but we do have a long way to go, like any other country in the world.
Right now, it seems like most people and brands, everywhere in the world, are embracing diversity because it's a trend. I can definitely say that I have been made to feel like a “brown person” in the industry. I think it boils down to casting—a lot of times people don't even realize how obvious it is in the way that auditions are done, or what is expected of you, or in the way that rules are written. But I think the world would be a much nicer place if people understood diversity for what it truly means.
My definition of beauty has evolved over the years. Now, I feel most beautiful when I'm the most centered. When I was younger, I was influenced by what I saw on television and read in the magazines. Ten years ago beauty for me was most certainly attributed to my physical self, because that's just the way you're conditioned as you're growing up. But in the last three years or four years, I've started to feel beauty is to be in a state of bliss. To feel that absolute oneness with your truest self.
With this brand, I want to leave a little legacy of what my beliefs are: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I think there are obvious things that are to be expected if one is launching a beauty brand or a skincare brand. But what makes it special and what differentiates one brand from the other is really founder-led. Fenty, for example, is so true to who Rihanna is; or, The Honest Company to who Jessica Alba is. The celebrity brands that come from a place of authenticity are the ones I admire. I think the inauthentic ones will fall off the radar anyway because the consumer today is extremely sharp, and they know exactly what they want.
I wanted to build this brand to share my experiences with skincare and with beauty, but it’s not just limited to that. It’s also my philosophy in lifestyle as a whole: the way I look at physical fitness; the way I look at mental fitness; the way I look at routines, sleep, and nutrition. My approach to this brand is more holistic, it's not just specific to a lipstick or a moisturizer.
In today's fast-paced world, I think we take for granted discipline in our schedules or creating routines or rituals. Even if it's just a couple of minutes to yourself in the morning quietly before you get to your gadgets and devices. Things like hydration are really important to me. Exercise—yoga, pilates, swimming—is really important to me. Emotional fitness and doing therapy regularly is important to me. All of these things form very crucial pillars of my brand. If I’m able to influence lifestyle patterns and nudge people to move to a place where they are leading healthier lifestyles—where they come out feeling more in tune with themselves—I think it will truly define the success of this brand.
People have been nudging me to start a beauty or lifestyle brand for a while. Telling me, “You're not someone who just talks, you're someone who actually leads by example. This is actually the life that you follow." But I always felt like I wasn’t ready.
I didn't want to be dishonest to the process. It's kind of similar to my acting journey. I started doing movies—my first movie released in 2007, which means I started working on it around 2006—but I was being offered movies even before that, big ones from big production houses with big leading actors. But even at that young age, I had this clarity to listen to my gut and say, "You know what? I'm not ready for this." Sometimes you're not ready for something and that's okay. I feel like there's a right time and place for everything.
When I finally embarked on this journey to start this brand over the past couple of years, it was coming from a very deep place of passion. And I’m in a more confident place now. I know people find this really hard to believe, I get told this all the time: "You're so beautiful. You're so successful. Why would you have confidence issues?" But confidence is so much more; it's so deep-rooted. The way people appear sometimes—whether it's on social media, or in the news, or in the way that they conduct themselves—it's very easy to pass it off as, "This person just has ‘it.’ " But if we look at everyone with a little more empathy, you realize everyone's going through something. Everyone's been through a journey and everyone's struggling with something. And everyone is trying really hard to find the confidence from somewhere—that thing that just keeps them going.
I'm inherently not a confident person. I need validation. It’s taken me a lot to even get to where I am today in terms of the way I conduct myself. It's taken a lot of work on myself. It's taken a lot of reflection; a lot of meditation. I think following some of these “rituals” or beauty and wellness routines help you look better and help you feel better. And that feeling better translates into confidence. I don't think they're mutually exclusive. But they're definitely interconnected.
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