"I just turned 29, which means I’ve been in NYC for 11 years! I moved here from upstate New York when I was 17 to study journalism at NYU, and except for the year I spent writing for a newspaper in India, I’ve been here ever since. I just started my own artisan jams and jellies company—Big City, Small Batches. After working in journalism, I went to law school, and then I ended up going to culinary school in 2012. A few years ago, my parents bought a lake house that has an orchard, where they grow their own grapes, and make their own wine and everything. The previous homeowners showed my parents how to keep growing everything, so I started making my first jams with my parents’ grapes and produce.
When I’m in the kitchen, I never wear makeup, because I’m usually working by myself and it’s not great for my skin. But, if I so much as go to the market, I will put makeup on. That’s how I was raised—you didn’t even go to the end of the driveway to check the mail unless you were dressed and had your hair combed. I’ve never gone out in pajama pants—I don’t even own pajama pants, because that’s a slippery slope right there. My mom started letting me wear makeup in middle school, and once you start, how do you stop? I feel naked without it. The same with jewelry—I have to at least wear some rings.
I’ve always worn concealer under my eyes. I’m Indian—My mom is from India, and my dad is from Kenya, but they are both ethnically Indian—so, like a lot of Indian people, I have dark under-eye circles. We always joke that we were born needing a nap. [Laughs] My favorite is MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC42. It’s also great for spot concealing. To keep it from getting caked into faux wrinkles, I put on RoC Retinol Correxion Deep-Wrinkle Filler—it’s almost like a primer. My friend’s mom told me about it because she said she has the same problem. I don’t have crows feet yet or anything, but if I don’t moisturize properly, concealer will make me look wrinkly. For foundation, I’ve used MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation since 2004, but I just found out that I'd been using the wrong shade! Then, the first time I actually went into a MAC store, there was an Indian woman working and I was like, 'I want N-something,' or whatever the color was called, and she was like, 'That’s for you? That’s not your shade.' And she was absolutely right! So I use C6 now, and so do all of the women in my family. It was amazing. If I want something more lightweight for summer, I use MAC Face and Body Foundation in C5. It’s super, super sheer. And, in the dead of winter, when I’m my palest and my skin is super dry, I use Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer. It’s one color for everyone, and it goes on clear.
When my eyelids look grey, veiny, or purple-ish, Lemon-Aid from Benefit neutralizes that. It makes them look clean without putting concealer on. And, as an eyelid primer, I actually just use MAC Eye Paint in Bamboom. I’ve had that for like, ten years, please don’t judge me. [Laughs] If you put it on first, eyeshadow won’t move. And Bamboom is basically my skin shade, so it works. Almost every day, I line my eyes with MAC Eye Shadow in Brown Down. It gives a subtle smoky look for dinner or on the weekend. I love deep plum eyeshadows like MAC Sketch and Laura Mercier Plum, but my favorite eyeshadow is Bobbi Brown Sparkle Eyeshadow in Cement. It looks like grease on your eyes. I love eye gloss, but it’s not practical. This shadow looks just like eye gloss. The problem is that I end up getting little flecks of it everywhere—the lining of my handbag, my pants, everywhere. So I finally tracked down something to make it stick—Illamasqua Sealing Gel. It’s a liquid that will turn any of your powder or loose glitter shadows into a smudge-proof liner. And I never leave the house without filling in my brows with MAC Brun Eyeshadow, even if I don’t do any other makeup.
For my lips, I start with MAC Prep and Prime, because I almost always do a little bit of a lip pencil—it makes the lip pencil go on so much smoother and stay in place. I use Face Stockholm Lip Liner in Breath. The color is amazing and flatters basically every skin tone—I’ve recommended it to so many girlfriends. It’s also weightless, you don’t feel it at all. For lipstick, my go-to is Naked by Face Stockholm. I live for it. And I’ve used Laura Mercier Sheer Lip Color in Baby Lips since I was like 16. I read about it in a Cosmo story that said, “every girl should own this,” and they were right. Most of the time, I love a pink lip, or a bright matte red, but recently I’ve been searching for a dark brownish, very goth color. I was going around to all of these beauty counters being like, 'The Craft. Are you feeling me?' No one understood what I was talking about, but finally someone at Bloomingdale’s pointed me toward Illamasqua Growl lipstick. The texture is amazing. They actually had to special order it for me, because they said they can’t keep it on the shelves—it sells out in a day. I wear it with the MAC Sketch eyeshadow.
To wash my makeup off, the only cleanser I use is Sumadan Wash, which I get from the dermatologist. It’s a sulfur-based wash, which is great for all kinds of skin, especially if you have rosacea or acne-prone skin. I’ve just started to think about anti-aging, because my girlfriends have been like, 'You need to start.' I have Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector and Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, because I’ve been using Lancôme creams since I was in high school. I liked their packaging. [Laughs] Visionnaire is amazing because it really did change my dark spots and even my skin tone dramatically after two months. I didn’t need nearly as much concealer.
To moisturize my face, I found a really subtle, non-greasy moisturizer that helps your skin retain H20. Twinlab Na-Pca Natural Moisturizing Factor in Human Skin. I put it all over my face and neck as soon as I get out of the shower and let it sink in. It’s also really great on my split ends. I don’t know... it works!
I get my hair cut in Queens at an Aveda salon near my kitchen called Gigi. I’m very obedient, so whatever they tell me to use, I use. I wash my hair with Elucence Beauty and Wellness Shampoo and Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner. It has been a lifesaver for my hair. It’s heavy, so you can’t really tell, but it’s been thinning a lot. My hair is usually crazy thick, but this is half of what I used to have. To get volume now, I spray a little Eufora Volume Fusion Spray at the roots before I blow dry it. You won’t feel it in your hair at all. And my doctor recently gave me prenatal vitamins, which are apparently great for your hair, skin, and nails.
I think about my nails a lot. I wish I could paint my own, but instead I get them done maybe twice a week—manicure once a week, and polish in between that. I like glittery polishes because they stay on kind of like a Shellac, but they don’t destroy your nails. I buy probably three or four new shades of nail polish every week! My nail shop used to dread me coming in, because I like to layer these crazy combinations that I come up with at home. I test out little swatches on white post-it notes while I’m watching TV! That’s super embarrassing. [Laughs] And I’m always trying to talk them into giving me three coats instead of two. I mean just paint it! I will tip you good money! [Laughs]
As far as fragrance is concerned, when it’s just me, I’m a one-scent girl: Tom Ford Black Orchid. But I’ve also got a softer scent for the boys, because they don’t want to be all up in Black Orchid. So for them, it’s Giorgio Armani Si. My brother gave it to me. When you’re dating, things like perfume matter even more. I’m a sucker for body splash, and let me tell you that boys love Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy. It’s undeniable, it works. If I wear it on a date with someone, I know I’m going to be making out or something afterwards. They go nuts for it. I know my audience, and I cater to it. [Laughs]
I barely have time for anything, but I work out three or four times a week, and see a trainer twice a week at David Barton Gym. The trainers make you go at least twice a week, but that’s why you pay them, right? My goal for training is that I want to live. That’s literally it. I just want to live a good lifestyle. I work on my feet for up to 12 hours a day—it takes a toll on your back. I’m the only person on my loading dock every morning at 5am lifting boxes and crates of produce that can weigh up to 90 pounds. When I work out, I really do start to notice that I can carry my groceries home without even thinking about it. That’s my big thing."
—as told to ITG
Amy Kothari photographed by Emily Weiss on December 10, 2013 in New York.