Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world, is upon us. I love this time of the year. For me, it signals the start of cosy season: knits on, central heating cranked up, mugs and mugs of hot chai. From late October I’ll have the twinkly lights down from the loft – they won’t return up there until early January – and I buy myself a Diptyque Feu De Bois (meaning ‘wood fire’) candle each autumn to ensure my olfactory system is suitably cosy, too.
For me and so many others, Diwali is about seeing family and eating the most delicious food. (I make tons of gulab jamun, which are tiny bite-sized Indian doughnuts in a cardamom and rosewater-spiked syrup.) But it also comes at a pivotal point in the year; late October marks the change in season, the clocks changing and the temperature dropping, so I see Diwali as the perfect time to reset for winter.
More excitingly for me, as a beauty editor, it is the point in the year when I switch up my beauty routine. In the summer months my morning skincare routine consists of an antioxidant serum like Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and then straight onto sun protection, skipping a day cream. In the winter I will still stick to my non-negotiable antioxidant serum – I need it as I’m prone to pigmentation – but I’ll introduce a hydrating eye cream, a richer moisturiser and a creamier sun protection on top.
I also change up my evening skincare routine, too. During the summer months I’ll keep it really simple: cleanse my skin, apply a spritz of a hydrating toner and finish with a couple of drops of hydrating serum.
But in the winter months, I spend a few more minutes focusing on massaging an oil into my skin with a Kansa wand, a copper-tipped facial massage tool which is India’s answer to China’s gua-sha [a good option is the Ranavat Kansa Wand]. The copper helps to draw out impurities from the skin and promotes lymphatic drainage.
I’m not alone in the great seasonal skincare switch-up. Diipa Buller-Khosla, founder of Indian beauty brand Inde Wild, likens Diwali to the American holiday of Thanksgiving; a time when the ‘holiday switch’ goes on in her mind and she prioritises family and friends – and resetting her skincare. “I change my routine depending on the season, and in the autumn I feel like my skin needs a different approach,” she tells me.
While in the summer she sticks to water-based, light skincare, in the winter months it’s all about rich textures. “I love a light exfoliation using Tatcha’s Rice Polish for a smooth, clean and gently exfoliated base, followed by my Vitamin C serum and a thick layer of Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream.”
Diipa’s serum includes Ayurvedic ingredients such as ashwagandha, a proven ingredient that helps skin’s natural moisture levels – particularly useful in the colder months. “I think Indian beauty will become as popular as yoga and meditation, because the ingredients work and they’re clinically backed,” adds Diipa.
This focus on comfort and warmth is a strong theme in Ayurveda, and it applies to body care, too, with the practice of ‘Abhyanga’, which means to massage one’s body in Sanskrit. In the winter I’ll switch up my light body lotions and for more unctuous, rich oils.
Nikita Mehta, co-founder of Fable & Mane, also sees this time of the year as a chance to declutter. But, as she explains, it’s cleanliness for the house but also for herself; she kicks off Diwali week with a full body scrub consisting of rice powder, turmeric, milk and honey, followed by a soak in a bath before washing it off (it’s her secret to the ‘softest skin’). As for skincare, she’s been using Kama Ayurveda’s Kumkumadi Oil, and the Pure Steam Distilled Rosewater by Forest Essentials.
And let’s not forget massaging a pre-wash oil into the scalp for added nourishment, a practice that dates back over 5000 years in India. As Diwali approaches, Nikita oils her hair three times a week rather than just once. Of course, you could use her brilliant HoliRoots Hair Oil, or neat castor and amla oil.
“I feel like the whole body needs to feel hydrated and moisturised,” she tells me. “This is the best season for Ayurveda. It’s all about warming and nothing cold. It’s perfect now to adopt these habits in the autumn.” Nikita even switches to neat rose oil as her perfume. As well as warmth for external health, it’s about keeping warm and nourished internally, too; in Ayurveda it is advised to always drink warm water, rather than cold from the fridge or tap.
Nikita’s post-Diwali tonic is sipping on cups of warm cumin tea, which helps digestion, and saffron tea (made by soaking a couple of saffron strands in hot water). “If you want glowing skin, this is the tea you need,” she adds. “But with Ayurveda, I don’t think you’re just doing it for results,” she tells me, “it’s also about how it makes you feel.”
And because we can’t in good faith talk about the festival of lights without a little glam, I change up the make-up products I use, too. While in the summer I opt for more mattifying products and powders to keep shine at bay, in the winter it’s all about the glow.
I’ll switch to lighter, glowier tints for the skin, such as Estee Lauder’s new Futurist Skin Tint Serum Foundation. For blush, I adore Vieve’s Sunset Blush in Pesca (the perfect peach for South Asian skin tones) but for the winter, I’ll swap the powder version to the liquid Blush Balm in the same colour.
For Diwali, I’ll make my eye make-up more of a focus, too, applying a kajal pencil in my waterline, such as Byredo’s Kajal Pencil in Kali Kali. I also have this product in the dark brown shade, Bhoora Bhoora – it feels reminiscent of vintage kajal liners and they draw the most beautiful focus to the eyes. My lips? Well, the only requirement for Diwali is that the formula is food-proof. Makeup By Mario’s new MoistureGlow Plumping Lip Serum fits the bill perfectly: it’s hydrating and leaves a lovely tint, even after I’ve eaten my fill of gulab jamun.
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