'I was a Burberry exclusive for awhile—they were the first people to discover me, and they made me the face of their house. This year I've been able to branch out a bit more—I walked Kanye’s show for Adidas during New York Fashion Week, which meant a lot to me because I love rap music so much. I’m always playing his stuff—when I’m happy or even sad, when I need to feel confident, I’ll put Kanye on. I was honestly shocked when he said he wanted me for the show after he saw my Burberry campaign. He was like, ‘I find it so dope that you’re an Indian model, and you’re the only one doing it.’ I hope that agencies will realize there is a place for Indian girls in the modeling industry. I’ve been working for over a year now, so maybe we need to give it some time, but I hope that for me and other Indian models, we continued booking jobs and people continue believing in us.
I’ve become more of a tomboy since I started modeling, actually. Every now and then, I still like to dress up when I go out—I wear my heels, get my hair and makeup done...But on a regular day like this when I’m not working, the last thing I want to do is dress up. I used to be so different though! I never used to wear trainers. I'd go to the cinema in heels. Can you believe that? My nails are really long right now, but I would have them even longer and painted hot pink. My natural hair was literally down to my ass. Now I’m an absolute sneakerhead. I think I’m more into the urban type of look because, on my days off, I still want to look good but don’t want to wear something really fitted. I just really want to wear a cool hoodie.
When I first started modeling, I had absolutely no skincare routine. The only rule I had was never sleep with my makeup on. I’ve never even used moisturizer...never even had a facial! That has changed since I moved to London and noticed a difference in my skin because of the pollution. I went into Dermalogica for a facial, and since then I swear by their products. I use Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser, and then if I have really heavy makeup on from a shoot, I use PreCleanse. I also have their Daily Microfoliant, which I use twice a week. Because I travel so much, I really like to invest in nice products and services because I find it’s part of my job, and the planes and everything take a toll on my skin. I reserve Glam Glow Supermud Clearing Treatment when I have to fly to four different places in a week. Without a doubt, I’ll always get a spot. I use that, and it goes straight away every time. It’s my little trick.
I don’t feel like my skin can breathe when I contour and use crazy foundation stuff. So when I'm not working, I try to just wear moisturizer. I like to play up my eyes, though. Sometimes I’ll wear lashes. I like Ardell Natural Lashes. They’re thin and wispy, and I can’t even feel them. My mom is a freelance makeup artist for weddings, parties, and things like that. When I was in LA, she was like, ‘Before you go, you need to get me this Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pro Palette. It’s the best.’ I was like, ‘Mom, how good can that eyebrow palette be?’ But I bought one for myself, too, and yeah it really is the best. My eyebrows are really thick as well. So with some products, they’re just too dark or too defined. This palette doesn't do that. There is this brand from England I like called Blink—I use their Clear Gel on my brows as well.
On my lips, I like Lucas’ Papaw Ointment. I use that on an everyday basis, just to keep my lips nice and not chapped. If I’m going out, I really like Burberry’s stuff. My favorite stuff from Burberry’s makeup range is their blush and lip colors because I like really subtle lip colors. I only really wear like a baby pink or nude if I’m doing makeup on myself.
Here’s the thing—because of this job, I have product in my hair every day, so my routine varies and depends on what days I’m working. Maybe I’ll wash my hair every other day. If I could, I would only wash it two or three times a week—my hair never gets greasy! Everyone complains that it’s too silky on shoots, so sometimes, even if I have products in it, I’ll leave it in at the end of the day for the next because clients want a little bit of texture. I use a lot of products from Windle and Moodie because Neil Moodie cuts my hair and has styled it for Burberry for the past year. He just knows the perfect thing for it. I like Windle and Moodie’s Cream Sheen for shine and Bumble and bumble Surf Spray for texture. In terms of day to day, I don’t use too much—maybe Moroccanoil products. But on a day like this, I’ve done nothing to it. I always have so much makeup on and product put in. I like to take a break and just feel my hair.”
—as told to ITG
Neelam Gil photographed by Tom Newton. Read more of The Face here.