You’ve been air-drying your hair wrong…

Raise your hands if you’ve skipped your usual hair blowout due to lack of time, rushed out, and when you returned home, your hair was a mess of frizz.

It happened to me all the time– regardless of what products I used. Air drying is all I have time for in the mornings, and the humidity would make my hair lose any smoothness it had because of conditioning, and the hair would be a mess.

Then I discovered a hack: using an old t-shirt to dry your hair instead of a towel.

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Since we don’t use terry cloth/thick towels, I figured there would be no harm in trying this out anyway.

Long story short, IT WORKS. 

I washed my hair as usual, and instead of wrapping the wet hair in a towel turban, I used an old t-shirt for the same purpose. Then I headed to college for work, where I put my hair up and forgot about it. When I returned home in the afternoon, my hair had dried and was soft to touch, not frizzy, & shiny to look at.

The coolest thing about this technique? It speeds up your drying time. Cotton t-shirts (especially your old, soft, worn-in ones) absorb more water than your cotton towels. More notably, frizz is reduced by a good extent. I applied no product to prevent it, but there was a marked difference in my hair’s texture and feel.

Make sure you use a SOFT, worn-in t-shirt (the kind your mother thinks shouldn’t even be worn at home).

Try it out next time you wash your hair, and I promise a difference in your hair.

Air-drying, conquered.

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Skincare 101: Establishing a routine

I love my skin. I’ve always been happy with it because it was very low maintenance for a good part of high school. But breakouts turned up, and soon enough, I began to learn about skincare and how to set up a regimen that suits my skin. Scouring numerous beauty blogs & dermatologist interviews later, I managed to boil it down to an easy routine that has been relatively constant for the last two years.

Today I’m going to walk you through my routine & give you ideas to establish one of your own, that addresses your skin type and works to clear any problems you might have.
But there are two things you have to remember:

  1. It takes time for anything to have an effect– so don’t get disheartened when your skin doesn’t immediately clear. It has to adjust to the routine, and that will take time. Keep at it for two weeks, and then decide whether you need to alter it.
  2. Not everyone’s skin is the same, so what works for a friend might not work for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

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Daytime Routine

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Simple step 1: cleanse your skin in the morning post your shower. I swear by Neutrogena’s deep clean to get rid of product I applied for night time & provide a clean slate for the morning’s products. I use only this face wash for now, both in the morning and evening, and it does the job well. Dry your face with a soft towel/old t-shirt (genius hack).

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Step 2: moisturise. Now there’s a rumour that you shouldn’t moisturise if your skin is oily. Not true. Your skin secretes oil because it doesn’t get enough moisture.

If you have oily/combination oily skin, choose an oil-free/gel formulation. Dry/normal skin, regular moisturiser will do.

Apply a light layer moisturiser all over your face + neck within a minute of drying your face. A handy way to apply moisturiser is to apply two dots on your forehead, one on each cheek, one on the nose and one on the chin. This helps to not saturate your skin with product.

Alternatively, you can also use a toner after drying your face. Toners work to make your pores (those weird bump-like things on your skin) appear smaller, and can also control oil. Apply some on a cotton pad, and swipe over your face. Moisturise after it dries.

Make sure you let your moisturiser sink in your face before you apply any makeup.

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Sun protection is SO important, not because of potential tanning but the damage it causes to your skin. Prolonged sun exposure causes dark spots, pigmentation and ageing, which are hard to erase. I have yet to find a good sunscreen for the face that doesn’t leave an ugly cast/heavy feel on my face (and wallet). But I make it a point to apply a product with some amount of SPF every single day.
BB cream & tinted moisturisers are godsends. I apply them with a sponge, which speeds up the process and eliminates chances of streaks, and I’m out the door in less than five minutes.

Also make sure you use a good sunscreen for the rest of your body as well. Tons of spray ones are available on the market.

Nighttime routine

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At night, it’s all about taking away the day’s dirt + makeup. After using a makeup remover (if needed), I wash with the same Neutrogena I use for the day. Then I use an overnight treatment– Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. This is one of their bestselling products, and for good reason– it works like magic. A few drops every night on clean skin makes pimple scars fade and my skin looks clearer. For example, if you popped a zit and got some skin hanging, use this. It repairs.

Choose a product suited for night time. They have a stronger formulation than daytime products. L’Oreal, The Body Shop, and Kiehl’s have a good range.

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THIS. This is the step that works to tackle your skincare problems. And the trickiest step to nail.

Now, we all have our own issues with our skin. Acne, for example, is a primary concern for most of us. But in our quest to get rid of our acne, we use a harsh acne face wash every single day. We don’t realise we’re stressing our skin out further.

The solution? Alternate your regular skin treatment with a specific treatment. For me, the night time moisture/repair is alternated with an acne treatment. This product (again a Kiehl’s formulation) is pretty potent, and has salicylic acid, an acne-fighting ingredient. I can’t use this every day, it’ll make my breakouts worse.

What do I mean by alternating treatments? I mean literally alternate. Choose three/four non consecutive nights to use specific products. I use acne products on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays, post a night time wash of my face. You can do the same, or try Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays. The point is to not use it every day.

Alternatively, you could use an acne face wash (Body Shop Tea Tree face wash is amazing!) and a nighttime moisturiser to serve the same purpose.

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Exfoliation = scrubbing. This follows the same principle as specific treatments– moderation is key. Use a scrub/face mask once a week, preferably not on a day that you use the specific treatment. A mask really goes deep and draws out dirt from your skin– it’s not made for everyday use. Use a mask that is made for your skin type. Again, The Body Shop skincare range has something for everyone.

So, this is my skincare routine in a nutshell. Skincare works best when you take care of your body from the inside out, so don’t forget to pile on fruits & vegetables, drink a lot of water, and practice some form of physical activity regularly.

Good skin is always good to have, and an intelligent organ to invest in. It’s the first thing people notice, and caking on makeup is a time consuming process + useless when everything melts off your face in Chennai heat.

Here’s to clearer skin!

Seeing rainbows

Rainbow image by kaitlynlayla via DeviantArt

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The past week has been historic– the United States legalised gay marriage, leading to a slew of celebration and parades in the country. Numerous people not living in the USA too have taken to appreciate the country. In India, most of us changed our Facebook pictures, hopefully as a reminder for the long way we have to go to ensure LGBT rights.

A symbol of the Pride movement is the rainbow– my point of inspiration for today’s post.

Before there are any misunderstandings, I would like to say that this post in no way dilutes the legitimacy of the rainbow symbol, and all that it stands for. LGBT rights are a step forward for humanity and acceptance, and a deeply personal movement for so many people. I am in full support of equal rights for the LGBT community. And I am inspired by the colours of the rainbow- how it is a way of expression, and a sign of a powerful movement. I personally believe that wearing a rainbow (literally, figuratively, or on Facebook) is a way to celebrate both this momentous occasion, and the joys of colours. 

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Today, I’m going to give you ways to wear a rainbow in your outfits. Whether you incorporate the entire VIBGYOR or choose to block your colours, there is a rainbow out there for everyone. So here are my ways to wear a rainbow. Plus, my favourite multi coloured pieces to buy are at the end of the post, so scroll away!

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Sofia Sanchez Barrenechea, All the Pretty Birds

Multiple rainbows require careful coordination, but this street style snap makes it look impossibly easy. Plus, those Valentino rockstud shoes + bag are designed for success. Let’s ease into the rainbow, shall we?

Make it the talking point of your outfit

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Source: 1. Pinterest; 2, 3.Atlantic Pacific blog

A multicoloured piece is bold, so let it be the centre of the attention. By pairing it with classic black and white pieces, you won’t take away the brightness of the skirt. Plus, it makes the piece so much more versatile when you can wear it with clothes you most probably already own! In all three examples above, the skirt is the focus of the outfit, and all the pieces only supplement the colours.

Pair colourful prints with complementary solidspetiteasiangirl on flickr
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1. PetiteAsianGirl on Flickr; 2. Sterling Style via The Glitter Guide; 3. Pink Peonies blog

Print mixing 101: The best way to wear a print is with a solid colour that also features in the print. This tip makes wearing multicoloured pieces so easy. In these three outfits, the printed scarf is complemented by the mustard skirt. The bright, striped skirt takes the red up a notch by wearing it with a matching sweater. And the accessories are in colours that feature in the skirt, red and white. These are the easiest ways to wear more colour, if you’re a person who wants to experiment.

Consider colour blocking

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1. & 2. Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème; 3. Atlantic Pacific

Colour blocking is a trend that never really died, because of its ability to make one look impossibly fashionable. After all, it takes a good eye to mix solid coloured pieces (especially brights) without going over the top/visual hazard. An easy way to colour block is to mix neutrals with your bold colours. Heather grey breaks up the orange and blue, while the brown adds an earthy feel to the blue & purple combination. If you want to go all out, chartreuse (bright green) + royal blue + leopard print is the way to go. I have loved this combination since I set eyes on it, and cannot wait to try it out myself. It is so chic.

Pastel rainbows count too

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1. Vanessa Jackman via WhoWhatWear; 2. Adam Katz Sinding of Le 21ème

If the idea of wearing bright blue and red together unnerve you, pastels are a good way to achieve the multi colour effect without bright colours. There’s a subtlety with pastels that makes them more of a summer colour choice, but sometimes pairing pastels is tricky. Pista green + pastel pink + white (the neutral that breaks them up) is a combination that sounds less than optimal on paper, but works wonderfully on outfits. And chambray (lighter, denim-like cotton, and material to numerous button downs) would pair well with all pastels, especially pinks. And when in doubt, white jeans will always come to your rescue.

When in doubt, go Indian

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Go for a bright, bold saree this wedding season! No filter needed 🙂

A photo posted by MarigoldTales (@marigoldtales) on Jan 26, 2015 at 10:07pm PST

fbee1f319bec1fb62e079f016aec9be21. Madhurya.com; 2, 3. Marigold Tales Wedding Blog/Instagram; 4. Kanakavalli.com

Our culture is an explosion of colour, and our clothing is no different. Every inch of our country celebrates vividly, and there is no better way to channel the rainbow than looking to our own. The sari is a thing of beauty, and whether you go Kanjivaram or Kota silk, the bright weaves and colour combinations make it impossible to go wrong! Where else can you find bright orange, royal blue, and jade green coexist without chaos? Or print on print on print on Tusser silk, in a variety of colours? This is the easiest way for us to go bright without worry.

Shop my favourite rainbow picks below!

Skirts that need to be the centre of attention

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Haute Curry at Shoppers Stop always has the cutest stuff! I love this printed skirt. It’s wearable, and bright. Buy it here.

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Quirk Box, the brand known for its minion (not the Despicable Me kind) print has a new line, Quirk Box Gold, made of premium fabrics, and carrying a rainbow world monuments print. This skirt was my favourite of the lot (give me a flare and a rainbow and I will be happy), but the price is a little premium. Buy it here.

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Good old AND by Anita Dongre also has fun prints in a variety of colours. This skirt would look great with a white 3/4th sleeve tee & orange shoes. Buy here.

Printed separates, to be paired with complementary colours

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This t-shirt from Zara is begging to be worn with mustard pants.

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Again Zara, a muted set of stripes that make multicolours work for every day. This blouse would also work for formal occasions.

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Printed pencil skirts totally count as a rainbow addition. This Zara skirt embodies summer, and can be worn in so many ways.

Doing Indian

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Preeti S Kapoor’s collection on Jabong has a range of brightly coloured tops, that are Indian yet Western. Shop the blouse here.

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I’m actually really into the vest-over-kurta trend that a lot of Indian wear brands are showcasing. A rainbow print vest like this takes your college outfit up a notch, without the heat of an extra layer. This piece would look fantastic with a white kurti and a red patiala. Buy it here.

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THIS is the sari I have been waiting for. Mango yellow and Rani pink are a match made in Kanjivaram heaven. The Kanakavalli brand is known for its curated, covet-worthy saris. I’m going to ask my mother to buy me this. At 14k, it’s a pretty penny, but I would say its worth the investment. If you have been waiting for a Kanjivaram buy, you can go ahead with this sari here.

Five rules for regret-free shopping

It’s that moment– when you buy something that you thought was the most perfect skirt/top/dress in the world, and when you wore it, it wasn’t the most flattering.

Maybe the colour looked different, the sleeves were uncomfortable– there’s a host of things that a mannequin can make look good. And because we all are different from the mannequins in different ways, there’s understandably a host of things that can make an item of clothing fail your expectations.

I’ve been there more often than not. And I think it’s time we made a conscious effort to not buy things that we’ll end up never wearing. It happens more often with impulse buys– I used to buy on-trend pieces for the sake of, until I realised what a large part of my wardrobe started to be pieces I couldn’t/wouldn’t wear. Not only are you wasting space, you are also more likely to say “I have nothing to wear!”, while facing a stuffed wardrobe. Not the best situation.

So here are my five rules to follow when you want to buy something, which will ensure that you never regret another purchase.

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1. Know what you want

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The internet gave us the gift of online shopping, and catalogues. Almost all brands have an online outlet, or are sold through other retailers. So figure out what you want before you go shopping, by scouring online shopping websites, and looking through catalogues— catalogues have styled the outfit, which will give you an idea of how it fits, and inspiration for how to wear it. Not to mention, if you look at catalogues of high-end brands, you can try to search for affordable alternatives to stuff you really like.

Knowing what you want to buy saves you a lot of time, and effort. I know shopping can be relaxing, but it can also be annoying when you feel like buying something but don’t know what you want to buy. Save yourself the trouble, and do your research

2. Try it on

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Photo from Pinterest

This is the most important rule there is. Even if you have been a dedicated customer of a brand, there is absolutely no guarantee that every item of clothing will fit the way you want it to, even if it is your size. Maybe you would have to size up or down. Clothing comes in so many different styles these days— asymmetrical, cropped, a-line— which makes the construction of each garment different. So there’s a slim chance of everything fitting the way you want.

Case in point, I wanted a white eyelet top. I saw one at H&M. Picked up my size, and was about to bill it, when I decided to try it on. Surprise, the arm holes were digging into my body, and it was a nightmare to try on.

Not only can you run into sizing problems, there may also be problems of fit, like I have mentioned previously. The sleeves may be longer than you thought, the waistline might not hit your waist, the neckline could be too deep… don’t get me started. You can never guess the fit without trying it on.

Basically, try it on so that you don’t waste money on something you’ll never wear. You have to love it 100%.

ALSO, IT HAS TO FIT! I cannot emphasise enough on the stupidity of buying something that you have to lose weight to fit into. Buy it if it fits at this moment, not as an inspirational purchase. We both know that it doesn’t work that way. Never, ever do this. Even if you don’t follow anything else I’ve said, please follow this rule.

3. Take pictures & get feedback

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A post shared by Oscar de la Renta (@oscardelarenta) on

Snapchat was made for this, as was WhatsApp & Instagram direct. Everyone has a camera phone. Put yours to good use by taking a picture of what you’re wearing, and send it to your sibling, best friend, cousin, whoever you trust has great taste in clothes, and will be honest with you about how it looks. Bonus, you can also ask them to help you choose between two pieces you like! May the 3G be with you.

4. See if you can wear it three different ways with clothing you already own

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Picture from puttingmetogether.com, via Pinterest

This rule has withstood the test of time, and applies particularly to impulse buys. When you see something you like in a store, see if you can wear it in three different ways with clothing you already own. For example, if you are going to buy a printed skirt, you should ideally have three different top (+ jacket) combinations in your head, so that you don’t have to make another shopping trip to buy something that goes with it.

It might be difficult to remember all of what you own, but as you follow this rule more often, it will start to click in your head.

5. Think about it

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First GIF on the blog, hehe

You are spending money on this addition to your wardrobe. Maybe it’s an expensive addition. A little introspection never hurts. Ask yourself these questions:

— Do you love it ONLY because it’s on sale? Maybe it’s because it’s a two-for-one deal, or it’s a Zara top, and there’s some brand appeal? You’re better off not buying it, because you are buying for the sake of, and not because you love it.

— Do you know where you’ll wear it? If you don’t frequent parties, that sequin body-con dress will not see the light of day. Only pieces that you can wear on a relatively regular basis deserve a place in your closet.

And do you love it with all your heart? Save your money for something else if not.

Hope you guys found this post helpful! Here’s to taking shopping into our control. Have a great week!