Ambika Pillai teaches Make-Up via Xpert

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About Ambika Pillai

Ambika Pillai is a Makeup Artist & Hairstylist in the fashion industry. She has won Vogue Best Makeup Artist Award Winner and Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female Awards Winner for Best Hair and Make-up.

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  • Can you share with us 3 beauty hacks?
    • 1. A HAIR MASK is one thing most of us shy away from. But if your hair is rough, dry, treated with chemicals or damaged then it is a treatment you should indulge in..

      Hair masks can easily be made at home. For best results apply the mask from roots to tips .. Wrap a warm thin cotton towel over your head or put on a shower cap and leave on for half an hour and then wash it off.. Using a mild shampoo. If your hair is treated or damaged you should first use a mild shampoo. Pat hair dry. Use the mask, leave on for 15 minutes and then rinse off with lukewarm water.

      2. Start giving yourself a foot spa at home because your feet get so tired after a hard day at work, or you just need to pamper yourself and keep your feet looking and feeling smooth and crack free. In a wide basin (not a bucket) pour pretty hot water. Like it’s difficult to dip my feet in at the beginning but in a minute you find it easy to dip both feet in. put in a handful of rock salt… The commercial salt available is iodized where as the rock salt is pure from nature. It detoxifies your body, also eases stress and body pains. Removes the yellowness under the nails and makes your nails shine beautifully. Constantly painted toenails need this the most. A hand full of Epsom salt..there are many beauty benefits to Epsom salts, aka magnesium sulfate,  for a super soft skin. It also helps relieve muscle pain. A hand full of crushed alum… Soften and smoothens the heels and helps keep it crack free. Keep your feet soaked till all the three salts and stone melt and your feet are soft with the soak. Use the Pumice stone… This porous rock has been used for centuries as an abrasive beauty aid, the pumice stone is used to remove rough skin, primarily on the heels of your feet, squeeze a little body wash liquid on it and  use it on the heels and pads of my feet, moving in a circular motion with slight pressure, make sure not to make the skin raw, you only want to remove the dead and rough skin. Rinsing your feet off dab it dry on a towel and moisturize and give your feet a good massage which it so richly deserves.. and feel like a new person all over again. There are times you may not have Epsom salt and alum .. Then it’s just rock salt which is always handy.

      3. Puffiness around the eyes is a sign of fluid retention. Moisturizers around this area will only add more fluid to it. To reduce puffiness around the eyes use a cold compress/ice pack for 15 minutes, or follow up with a lightweight eye gel that has caffeine in its composition.

  • Is there a facial pack for all skin-types that one can make at home?
  • How to manage a curly hair?
    • For curly hair use Liss Unlimited by Loreal shampoo and conditioner. And Liss Control Cream Serum. You can find these products at any good salon.

      Shampoo your hair only 3 times a week. Every time you wash your hair shampoo twice.  Then use a little conditioner. Comb out with a broad brush. Leave conditioner on for 4 to 5 mins. Do not rub conditioner into scalp. On towel dried hair use a squeeze of liss control.  Take small sections of hair and twist on your finger to form ringlets. Let it dry naturally

  • What is the most challenging part of your journey from Kerala to Delhi?
    • Well, truthfully speaking it wasn’t a well-planned road I had chosen to take. On the other hand, it all happened by default. All I ever wanted as a kid was to be happily married with 4 kids and a husband who loved me unconditionally and of course 2 dogs. But life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it. Being divorced at 23 wasn’t the easiest situation to be in, especially when you are from an extremely orthodox family where my dad didn’t believe in women working. So I left home, with a two-year-old daughter in my arms and went off to far away Delhi, with every intention of doing a beauty course and heading back home to Kerala to open up my own little salon. Of course, it didn’t happen that way but it was the foundation for my life as I know it now. After my courses at Shahnaz for beauty treatments and pivot point for hair, I got my first job that paid me Rs 2000/-. I probably would have carried on being a small time parlour girl if I hadn’t been thrown out of my second job for a huge misunderstanding. I decided that I didn’t want to work for anyone anymore. I opened my first salon with a partner and worked as a shadow behind the very talented Sylvie. Once that partnership fell through, with my never say die attitude, I opened yet another salon with yet another friend who was a billion times worse. Basically, I jumped from the frying pan into the fire. The partnership lasted for 13 long years and even though it took me forever to find out my best friend was swindling all the money. This is the time in my life other great things happened that would determine my path and take me to heights that was actually the beginning of my brand building exercise and making my brand a household name in Delhi. You may ask me what the turning point was… Well, it takes a lot of hardships you struggle through to overcome to finally make something of your life. But if I was asked to pinpoint one incident then I would have to say it was winning my first national award for an ad film where I did the then ruling miss world Aishwarya Rai s face. The press gave it everything they had and it became every girls' dream to sit on my chair and get their hair and makeup done by me.

  • How did you venture into making cosmetics ?
  • How to keep fresh throughout the day?
  • What’s your favourite part about styling a bride?
  • Which wedding makeup tradition, according to you, will stand the test of time?
  • One advice to all the make-up enthusiasts out there for the perfect make-up on-the-go?
      • Go for a minimalist look with clean perfect natural looking skin with a hint of colour on the cheeks and subtle contouring, to highlight the cheek bones. Clean Fresh eyes with a hint of colour on the lips.
      •  Go for a pop of vivid colour either on the lips or Eyes eg: Bright Berry, Pink, Fuchsia on the lips, Bright blue liner or a touch of Vivid green shadow on either the upper lid or outer corner of the eyes for the eyes.
      •  Neutral / Soft lips with Dramatic eyeliner
      •  Pink is Back! Use a hint of bright pink on cheeks for a beautiful flush of colour.
      •  Lashes!! Gorgeous, full, long and lush lashes add an exotic frame for the eyes. Experiment with Mascara and subtle false lashes this summer.
      • Luminous skin with bright matt lips eg: Brick red, Fuchsia, Orange, Dark Cherry Red
      • Well defined, softly darkened brows.
  • In your opinion, what will make a stand-out bride today?
  • What are your 10 essential tips for Indian brides?
      1. Keep The Skin Tone Natural. I believe in keeping the natural skin tone of the client alive after the makeup. Translucent application that ensures a naturally beautiful bride, is key to a good bridal makeup routine.
      2. Opt For Spot Concealing Rather Than Concealer Mask. Instead of slapping on layers of concealer, you must use it for what its function really is – concealing spots or marks, like scars, etc. Apply the concealer only on the parts of the face where you feel it’s absolutely necessary. If you don’t have anything to be concealed, preferably skip it.
      3.  Eye Makeup: Metallic Finish For Jewellery. For Indian bridal makeup, especially Hindu brides who may extensively use heavy jewellery, I suggest the metallic finish for the eye makeup. Soft colour profile should be maintained for the eyes of a bride preparing for a Christian wedding, to keep in sync with the angelic white overtone of the bridal attire.
      4.  Lush Lashes And Mascara. I am all for the showing off of bold and black lashes! The eye-make-up of a beautiful bride is complete only when there is a set of full and healthy lashes. Instead of placing additional eyelash, use a curler and put on some good old mascara.
      5.  Loud Lips! (Brown Bids adieu…). It is the season of loud lips. Loud and popping colours like pink, oranges, and bright reds, should be so loud that it is on your face for the ones looking at the bride. Lighter colours also give the makeup a less heavy and natural look.
      6. Balance Eyes And Lips. If the bride is going for a fancy, elaborate and dramatic eye make-up, like with wings and heavy colours, then the lips should be more subdued, and vice versa. The balance between the eyes and lips is crucial for the integrity of the bridal makeup.
      7. Maintain Healthy Hair. This tip is in general and especially for the brides. The pre-wedding, and wedding make-up routine is going to be the ultimate test of the hair. So if you never got around taking care of your hair, and are lucky to get a sufficiently long engagement period, healthy hair should be of top priority.
      8. Be bold enough to try textures and styles for hair. Sometimes it so happens the bride is not sure of what to choose and leaves the straight hair let down with a clip. NO. Straight hair is so BC! A good makeup artist will let you learn your face and choose something accordingly.
      9. Healthy Skin is a must. Get skin treatments well in advance if you have any specific skin conditions. Don’t wait till the wedding and leave the makeup artist in a fix. A full body polish is also a good idea, not only for a smooth skin but also since the bride gets this one chance to really pamper herself!
      10.  Learn Your Face To Accessorize. Some accessories suit only certain face-cuts – a bride with a large space for forehead can boldly choose a tikka and even a maatha patti. Another example is the choice of the nath – if you have bigger lips, make sure you choose a smaller nath, and vice versa. Basically, learn your face before you accessorize.
  • What are some everyday habits that we should adopt for better skin and hair?
      1. Drink 8-10 glasses of water. Water flushes out toxic wastes from the body, keeping your system clean. Drinking plenty of water makes your skin supple and glowing.
      2. Stop washing your hair! Washing your hair 3 times a week is all that you need. But the common practice is washing hair every day. This only damages your strands, ruining the natural oil balance of your hair.
      3. Proper oiling. Application of oil on your strands daily won't do you any good. But ensure that whenever you oil hair, massage well near the hair roots. This stimulates hair follicles, increase blood circulation, and enhances hair growth. After applying oil, dip a towel in steaming water and wrap around the hair. This ensures proper absorption of oil into the scalp.
      4. Detox your body. Detoxing or flushing out toxic accumulations from the body is essential. An easy way to do this would be trying natural detox drinks and consuming water.
      5. Use Nature's goodness. Opt for beauty products containing natural ingredients. Doing away completely with cosmetics containing chemicals can be tough, but resort to natural products whenever possible.
      6. Use the right shampoo and conditioner. The common notion is that using a popular brand's shampoo or conditioner will solve all hair problems. But it is essential to use a shampoo that suits your hair type. For instance, people with coloured or treated hair must use a shampoo for treated hair.
      7. Consume food rich in nutrients and proteins. Add nuts, almonds, legumes, fruits, and vegetables to your daily portion of rice.
      8. Adequate sleep is essential to relax your body and mind. Eight hours of sleep is essential to the body.
  • What are some makeup tips that you would like to share?
      • Soft, smokey eyes accentuated by pale, glossy lips. Besides the essential charcoal-grey, you can also use shades of midnight-blue, mehndi (henna)-green, and even fuchsia to smoke out the eyes.
      • Pile on the glitter. Use eye-shadows in black, grey, blue or aquamarine and top with some sparkle.
      • Use a shimmery blush in any warm shade like amber or soft pink.
      • If you are going strong on the eyes, ease up on the lips, using any soft skin tone shade, finished with generous dabs of gloss. Alternatively, play up the lips in rich burgundy or raisin if you are going light on the eyes.
      • Winter sees lots of black in our wardrobes and red lips go very well with any black outfit.
      • The real experimentation should be for the evenings. Curl your lashes and apply heavy mascara on them. Use a dark eye-shadow and smoke out the kohl. Apply a little bit of shimmer on your eyelids, just above the eyeballs so that your eyes look nice when you move them.
      • Don't follow the trends blindly. See what works for you and not the airbrushed model pouting from the magazine cover.
  • What was the idea behind launching a multi-brand outlet – Styleloft ?
  • How would you define your self-made brand and makeup journey in beauty industry?
  • What is the best way to keep minimal summer makeup glowing?
      • In hot and humid weather, it is best to wear as little makeup as possible.
      • If you have dry or combination skin, you can use a tinted moisturiser, with a concealer if you need it.
      • For a natural glow, lightly brush mineralised powder all over your face and blend well. A touch of pretty pink or peach blush adds a freshness to your look.
      • For oily skin, use a powder foundation lightly and blend well with a brush removing any excess product from the skin. Finish with a touch of mineralised powder along the cheek bones, and add a touch of blush.
      • For eyeshadows, stick to powder and blend well. use a long stay or waterproof liner and mascara.
  • Apart from concealer, what is the best way to cover up shadows, spots, or blemishes?
      1. Lightly use powder based foundation, which is your exact skin colour. First, dab on with a sponge then brush powder lightly all over the face and neck for natural looking uniform colour.
      2. Use a light oil-free tinted moisturiser. This will not conceal any blemishes completely but will give the skin an added lift or glow which will play down any tiny spots or blemishes.
  • How to apply bronzer in summers without looking dark?
  • What is your brand’s beauty philosophy?
  • What do you think makes a woman, truly beautiful?
  • What is the role of a tinted moisturiser and can it really replace my foundation?

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