Diary / Beauty / Sep 26, 2022
Roots to Radiance: Nikita Upadhyay's Guide to DIY Beauty
Written by: Alexandra Perron, Managing Editor
For Nikita Upadhyay, DIY beauty is nothing new. Growing up in Bhilai, India, she learned about how to use natural remedies and powerful herbs to treat her beauty concerns from her mother. (Her mother by the way, looks like she could be Nikita’s sister.) After finishing college and working at Harper’s Bazaar Bride and Cosmopolitan India, Nikita decided to take her natural beauty knowledge and put it down on paper. Her first book, Roots to Radiance: Wholesome Beauty Solutions for the Millennial Life, is packed with 500+ recipes and tips that combine traditional India wisdom and Nikita’s own learnings. We caught up to talk about what she’s learned from her mother and her favorite tips in her new book.
So much of your book is inspired by your mother, can you tell us more about what your childhood was like with her?
She has to slip in her knowledge of natural ingredients every time I bring up a concern. The town where I was raised (where my family still lives) didn’t have access to most fancy skincare products until a decade ago, and now that we do, we still enjoy applying fruit masks, sip herbal infusions and having fun with natural ingredients more. It’s something about being able to customise your beauty routine according to your skin needs. And to the feeling of being sure that it’s chemical and toxin free (because you’re making it in your kitchen) is just the best!
How did she influence your beauty and wellness routine while growing up?
My mom looks like she’s in her 20s herself. I look a lot like her so we practically look like sisters — we get that a lot. To look 25 years younger than she is compels people to ask her about her secret, now she just says, “there’s a book about it...the secrets are out for people to read.”
What were the most important lessons she taught you?
She asked me to be my own mother to assess every situation. Whether it’s reviewing my lifestyle and eating habits or trying to achieve those unrealistic body/beauty standards social media teaches us to live up to. ‘Love, nurture, care, rebuke, and supervise yourself— like I would,’ she says. And from my experience, I can tell you that applying this one rule has brought so much discipline and confidence in my conscience.
What was it like compiling everything together? What made you want to write this book?
I am a beauty and wellness writer, I always wanted to compile all of mine and my mom’s knowledge to address every common concern there is. This book is the most fulfilling thing I’ve done. And to get all the poster people to endorse it added to that. Apart from Bobbi Brown herself, there’s Dia Mirza, Bollywood’s most radiant beauty and clean living icon, and there’s Asia’s biggest chef Sanjeev Kapoor who gave a few recipes that add to skin health. There’s finest perfumer in the world, Roja Dove, and Hollywood’s biggest dermatologist Dr. Barbara Sturm, who treats celebs like Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber, Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bella Hadid, Emma Roberts and many more. It’s almost rare having a combination of so many poster people in one book. And to have platforms like Book Authority name my book #1 skincare and haircare of book is such an honour.
What do you hope the biggest takeaway is from your book?
I have repeated in my book, over and over that managing stress is something millennials need to learn. Considering we’re the most overworked and underpaid generation of all time, we cannot let anxiety and stress get the best of us. I want people to draw some self-love out of all the love notes I’ve left at the end of every chapter. I want them to feel the love.
You have a section in the book of “Hacks by Season” — can you share a favorite for our fall season/when the weather gets cooler?
There are herbal teas and concoctions for winters, it’s amazing how those infusions boost your immune system and get you ready for the chills. We get too lazy to work out in that season, those infusions will make sure to get your metabolic rate to match your requirements.
I think a lot of people assume making big changes to their beauty and wellness routine requires a ton of time, but I love that you highlighted some “Under Three-Minute Hacks” in the book. Which do you do every day? Any favorites?
It’s actually one of my favourite sections. I was asked to cut back because it was exceeding the word count, but I managed to get 50 in, and it's still difficult to pick one. The DIY lip and cheek tint is pretty cool, the DIY lash enhancing serum is fail-proof, and de-puffing under eyes with tea bags is so easy. And did I mention there’s a way to flatten a pimple overnight? I mean I’m obviously finding it hard to pick one...Millennials are so busy, I think they can really use a way to sum up their beauty routine in under three minutes.
What is your personal beauty and wellness philosophy today?
I have seen it to believe it, and as cliche as it sounds, leaving petty and insecure bosses, toxic friendships/relationships and keeping distance with unaspiring people will make your heart fly and skin radiate. Just knowing what to apply, who to engage with and who not to chill with will leave plenty of room for good thoughts and self-care (something we very much need). And when you have that time, pick up Roots to Radiance to form your own philosophy.