Ever considered covering yourself in curry powder? Thought not. Yet turmeric – a major constituent of commercial versions – is revered for its beauty benefits. The gloriously golden spice is not only known for its ability to make one look wonderful; it’s also an effective antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
And it’s not the only spice worth slathering on your skin. You’ll find all sorts of Indian ingredients in beauty products and toiletries, whether picked purely for fragrance or for more meaningful reasons. Should you know someone with a penchant for South Asian spice, I have an inkling that a nice little pamper hamper would be wonderfully welcome.
Just remember – to deserve such decadence, the recipient must be beautifully-behaved. Everyone knows that Santa simply will not treat the less-than sweet…
The rain-soaked soils of Rajasthan are the romantic inspiration for the very British fragrance house’s Vaara. Built upon His Highness Gaj Singh II’s dream of bottling Jodphur, the scent sings of spices and Indian florals; coriander seed and saffron; rose and magnolia; all underpinned by earthy, incense-like cedar and sandalwood.
To pretty to plunge into a brimming bathtub? Maybe, but that’s when this bomb really explodes; whizzing around the tub as it fizzes, unleashing awesome aromas and leaving with strongly scented skin. That decorative rose is not in apparent in the nose – rather, jasmine, ylang ylang and clary sage provide the perfume.
You might look a fright when you slap it on, but Holy Lama Natural’s face pack is so relaxing you won’t give a damn. According to your skin type, the herbal mixture can be blended with milk or rosewater before application. Within 20 minutes you’ll be all aglow and ready to go, looking lovely and ready to make very merry.
Suffering a cold wet British winter or enjoying the alluring warmth of Darjeeling? Thought so. A dab of Sikkim Girls on your pulse points will transport you, leaving you wafting around in a cloud of exotic florals: tuberose, frangipani, and innocent-yet-provocative jasmine. Slightly naughty and exceptionally nice.
I’m almost inclined to say that Jeeva’s raw, cold pressed, organic extra virgin olive oil tastes just too good to warrant using it for any non-culinary application… except for the fact that I am all-too aware of its numerous and excellent effects on hair and skin; the incredibly gentle oil leaving both soft, supple and subtly-scented.
This smart spa selection is inspired by ancient Ayurveda; packaging up age-old wisdom in whizzy modern products. This super-selection includes almond and rose Yogi Flow shower foam, shikakai-infused shampoo, Himalayan salt scrub, and Honey Touch moisturiser – plus a glove to scrub yourself sleek.
Pachouli oil’s deep, bewitching aroma pairs with earthy, spicily-enticing saffron in this decadent duo. The fine fragrance in the shower gel and moisturiser is multi-layered – first to get your nostrils twitching is pimento, caraway and bergamot; giving way to that pachouli-saffron symphony with a touch of rose; ending on oudh and leather.
Have a friend who needs a little lift? Don’t wrap them a pack of Tic Tacs; rather, present them with a present of this tongue-twisting ayurvedic herb from Neal’s Yard Remedies. Believed to imbue you with the slightly scary-sounding ‘strength and vigour of a horse’, it can be added to all manner of foods and drinks. A great post-party pick up.
Yet another scent to send your senses to far-flung places in a single sniff; this time to Old Delhi Station with all its hustling and bustling. Warming and soulful, it’s packed with pachouli, pepper, cloves and sandalwood – and could be combined with sister scents Oudh Heart and Fire Tree for a whole new fragrance.
Thanks to Barry M, the colours of the Indian kitchen can even be found on your fingertips – and not just when your nails are stained with turmeric. The capsule range is named for foodstuffs savoured in South Asia; try Chai, Cardamom, Mustard, Chilli, Mango or Coconut – all gorgeously glossy and long-lasting.
Cradled in clam shell-shaped containers made with sustainable areca palm leaves, Holy Lama Natural’s super soaps are based on gentle, nourishing coconut oil and scented with ayurvedic ingredients. Choose from Kewra, Turmeric, tulsi-and-neem ‘Yogi’, or the lush ‘Rainforest’ with vetivert – or get a gift set and do away with the decision.
Bulgari’s arresting bottle might sit pretty on the dressing table, but the contents will make the wearer attractive to all who catch a whiff of the fragrance that’s inspired by Indian mandarin garnet gemstones. Expect a woodily floral, sensual scent with hints of mandarin and saffron; tuberose and osmanthus; and amber and wood.
Ortigia might originate in Sicily, but the scent of the company’s sandalwood salts is entirely Indian. The sea salt is sourced in Sicily, infused with cooling yet strangely spicy sandalwood. A helping handful added to a bath renders the water soft and soothing – and good gift for the stressed or the sporty.
Burt’s Bees balms are brilliant; ultra-effective soothing salves for the most winter-worn of mouths. Kokum comes combined with shea and cocoa butters to form a triumphant triumvirate that claims to keep lips soft and smiling for up to four hours – though you might well want to slick it on sooner.
Yup, I’m partial to perfume. And Jo Malone is a master when it comes to crafting the sort of thing I love to smell. Sophisticated saffron pairs with piquant pink peppercorns and rather intense incense. Blond wood is the bass; an ace underpinning for a fragrance that haunts and taunts the senses.
Spritz Rituals’ Chakra Water on your body, your bedding, and on any other textiles that could do with a dose of divine Indian rose and Himalayan honey. Wield it wisely, spraying away whenever you need to bring back balance and restore a cool, calm and collected aura to your demeanour and your dwelling.
Chandrika is a classic; an old-skool soap that’s packed with ayurvedic ingredients and has a herbal scent that clears your mind as it cleans your skin, and a bright green bar is never far from my bathroom. To date, the recipe remains much the same as the one Sri Kesavan Vaidyar developed in 1940 when it debuted in India. Viva Chandrika!
One for Old-Fashioned Chaps who like A Good Old-Fashioned Proper Wet Shave. Crabtree’s soap blends Indian sandalwood with spicy cypress, bergamot, vertiver and just enough lavender to leave one smelling clean and masculine, not like a little old lady.
It might be described by the marketeers from Molton Brown as ‘London via Oman’, but oh, man, this scent says India to me. The woody perfume is fragrant with frankincense, oozes oudh oil, and sings of saffron. The intensity of orris root and caraway add yet more layers to the complex, altogether opulent aroma’s allure.