When I decided to move to London, these were the three fashion related thoughts that came to mind: I can wear boots, I can wear (faux) leather and I can even wear (faux) fur. The beauty stuff was not something I really thought of too much. I am not much of a beauty-makeup person although that has more to do with my lack of skills than lack of interest.
However, once I actually moved to London, I was overwhelmed with the amount of beauty products crammed in the Boots nearby. But I was so giddy with the excitement of using No. 7, Soap & Glory, Rimmel, Smashbox and other UK brands and products not available in India, I didn’t really miss my staple Indian items.
Now I have been in London for more than a year and realize that moving to a different country as an adult is not easy – even beauty and makeup wise. Your routine is established and favourite products are decided. Although there is an amazing variety of brands here, I miss some of my Indian brands and products which are sadly either unavailable or difficult to find in the nearby Boots.
Item 1: Parachute Coconut Oil and 2: Bajaj Almond oil
So coconut oil has not been made it as the trend-item in London as it has in the US. If you are anyway India related, you will know that coconut oil (or almond oil) is a major part of the hair routine of Indian people. We use coconut oil as a conditioner – use it before you need to wash your hair and keep it overnight if possible. Although I am lazy and not as religious about it as my sister is, I do put some oil in my hair whenever I remember or whenever I think my hair begins to feels like jute.
Boots seems to have everything from coconut oil capsules to coconut oil body mist and lotion and strangely, even coconut oil for cooking (I am just surprised Boots stocks something like this) – but no actual coconut oil for the hair. I have been getting my bottles of Parachute Coconut oil from India but the Indian stores in East Ham do stock it.
I also use Bajaj Almond oil sometimes. I ended up finding this in a store in Brick Lane and grabbed a bottle. It is impossible to bring this over from India since it comes in a glass bottle so I was really glad to be able to pick it up. It’s a great conditioner for your hair and I actually prefer this to coconut oil.
UK (and any other cold, dry country) residents: use this! Its great for dry weather – makes your hair more manageable and definitely better than using any other cosmetic hair product.
Item 3: Ponds Face Wash
I didn’t use face wash in India – I usually used the green Pears soap to wash my face (which, by the way, is amazing). Unfortunately, I think it would be too drying for London weather – not that I have tried it. Since I had used this Ponds face wash on and off, I decided to take a few tubes of this when I was moving to London.
But I have not yet found a normal drugstore face wash that makes me feel as clean as this one. I have most of these drugstore brands like Simple, Nivea, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, etc. but my face just did not feel clean. Also, most ones here are either exfoliators or scrubs which I don’t want to use everyday. A similar creamy texture which foams up and makes your face feel clean is just not available in the stores here (if you have any suggestions – please let me know). So I was forced to stock up.
I know this is a ‘whitening’ product – whatever that means. The only ‘whitening’ effect is that of washing most makeup off and leaving you with clean skin. I am honestly quite creeped out with the idea of whitening and fairness creams but unfortunately, there is no escaping them – atleast in India. I do love this product but would definitely be more comfortable if it stopped marketing itself as a whitening product.
Item 4: Vatika Shampoo
After all the fancy brands (at least fancier than Vatika!), from Body Shop, Loreal, Tony & Guy, to Lush, John Frida, even Herbal Essences, TRESemme and all the other stuff both Bidisha and I have tried and tested, we keep coming back to good old Vatika. My hair just feels clean and not as dry. I don’t know if its softer or shinier or sparkly or looks like diamonds, it makes my hair clean and doesn’t feel dry. That’s it.
Item 5: Lakme Lipsticks
Before there was Sephora, MAC, Colorbar and Inglot, even before there was Revlon and Maybelline, there was Lakme. My first few lipsticks were Lakme lipsticks ‘borrowed’ from mum. One of my current favourite lipsticks is this one from Lakme I am wearing here. Its not a super bright one like most of my other lipsticks but a pinkish coral shade I can wear for dinner or in the day. Its matte and slightly drying if you don’t wear it with some kind of lip balm underneath it. But if you do, its great and stays on for hours. This lipstick replaced my previous favourite, again from Lakme, one called Rose Kissed.
I definitely have one complaint about Lakme lipsticks – they discontinue certain shades (probably the one you love and use often) really quickly. I wanted another tube of Rose Kissed and the stores told me its discontinued. Of course, I should also mention that I came back with the new favourite staple lipstick. Which is now discontinued once again. Here’s hoping to find my third favourite staple. And this time I am picking up at least two tubes.
Item 6: Lotus Safe Sun Suncreen
I would have thought that the UK would do a good sunscreen with the very cancer prone skin but not really. The obvious answer is that the sun here is not as harsh and so of course, the sunscreens are not made accordingly. In my book the true test of sunscreen is the Indian sun and a beach day (I have tested this one in Bali, Thailand beaches, Ibiza, Goa…ok I am now getting distracted). I have tried Neutrogena, Banana Boat, Nivea, Garnier – thats it. I stopped trying after I first used Lotus.
Suncreen lotion have two requirements: should keep your skin safe from the harsh sun and not make you look like a frying pan. Sadly, the latter requirement seems to be impossible for most sunscreen lotions to deal with. This is why the Lotus matte lotion is amazing. When they say matte, they really mean matte.
Item 7: Biotique Body Lotion (not in the picture)
Bidisha introduced me to this body lotion. This is meant to fade scars and stretch marks. Bidisha started using this after a bad accident she had to help the scar on her leg fade. Its actually quite a heavy lotion for Bombay with its hot weather so I never used it in India. But its perfect for London! It’s the perfect thing to use in London winters as well for another reason. I don’t know if I am going crazy but I really believe this lotion makes you feel warmer. I have tested this theory by wearing the same clothes in the same temperature with and without using the lotion and it definitely makes a difference.
I have yet to find this in London and usually bring this along from India but I think the shop in Brick Lane or East Ham should work. Sadly, my stock is now over.
To our non-India based readers: if you come across any of these Indian beauty and makeup products in London first, buy and try and secondly, tell me where you found them! Rest assured, most of this will be quite cheap and have been tried and tested for years and highly recommended.
To our Indian readers: if you haven’t used these products, shame on you! I am joking – somewhat. But you need to check these out. And if I have missed a product you love, please let me know and I will be sure to add it for our UK readers to check out.
Hope you enjoyed my first beauty post! I would love to know if you ended up using any of the products mentioned here and how you fared.