'I have been living on airplanes for the last couple of years between New York and Mumbai, filming movies, and now I’m working on a new show called Quantico, which is my first TV show. My family is Indian, but my dad was in the army, so we moved around a lot. I actually went to school here and didn’t move back to India until I was 17. That’s when my mom sent in pictures of me to Miss India without me knowing. I won that and Miss World and never looked back.
I felt so out of place at the Miss India pageant. I had just come back from America, and I was told I needed to lose my American accent and learn the Queen’s English, so I had to enunciate my vowels and speak well and eloquently. Giving up a New York accent is pretty hard. [Laughs] I don’t do it convincingly anymore. My character on the TV show is half-American, half-Indian, so I had to work with my American accent a lot more.
When I was younger, people in America wore a lot more makeup than people in India. That’s when I learned that it was important to have clear skin. Now, I feel like I have the best of the East and the West. It makes me extremely global. Beauty and fashion are not really local anymore. You really have to be a global citizen to know what trends are. Now, it's pretty much the same designers and the same kind of trends, whether I am in New York, Milan, or Mumbai—it’s the same.
I travel so much, and cabin pressure dehydrates my hair and skin, so moisturizing is my life. Taking off makeup and moisturizing are the two things you need to do. People are horrible at it, but you have to do it! It’s the only way for your skin to survive crazy lifestyles. Take two or three minutes to just cleanse. That’s the only way.
Lemon or lime in water is really great for skin. Coconut water, too. I had troubled skin, but I never had acne. My skin just didn’t glow much, so I learned early that what I eat really matters. In India, people love turmeric. They make turmeric milk, and sometimes I mix it with some cream or yogurt and turn it into a scrub. You’d be amazed at what it can take off your skin.
My skin is being 'traumatized' all the time with all this makeup, which is why cleansing is supremely important. Obviously if you don’t abuse your skin the way I do, then it’s not that bad. What I do in the morning, especially before a shoot, is wash my face. Sometimes I use Chanel's Lait Confort, which is really great for your skin. People don’t know this, but just like I take yogurt and use it as an exfoliator, I can also use it to cleanse my face. It’s hydrating. It smells funky, so you should do it at night, but it's amazing if you have dry skin. You can use it after you formally wash your face, too, as a second step if you don't want to give up your traditional cleanser. Just rub it into your skin and let it stay for a minute, and then wash it off with water and take a wet towel over your face. I do it when I have the luxury of time. I try to do it on my body sometimes.
There's a really heavy and balmy Clarins cream that I like called the Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch. I use it before I start putting makeup on. But because I like to change my products every six months, I now sub in SK-II's Cellumination Aurabright Illuminating Essence. My moisturizers are usually high-end. I’ll go with La Prairie, La Mer, SK-II…but I find with products that I like, price doesn’t really matter. What matters is what works for your skin. I found this other cream in London that's by Boots. It’s like £5, but it was magical the way it worked. I used it for a couple of months. I really do think that it has nothing to do with price. It just has to do with consistency.
Wherever I go in the world, I find really great spas that use Elemis products. Europe has an amazing range of spas. My mom is a dermatologist with a clinic back home, so when I need to, she will do my clean-ups and peels, but I don’t get around to doing it too much anyway.
I’m a big Kiehl's junkie. Their Crème de Corps is amazing. And Bio-Oil is a magical product! I can’t believe I am sharing this with the world—it’s great for blemish-free skin if you're also dry. I use it on my entire body at night. Just please don’t use it if you have oily skin!
I’ve always had a glam squad to do my makeup because of Miss India and Miss World, so I never really learned much about doing it myself, unfortunately. I do try to pick up what I can, though! The most incredible product that has ever been discovered in makeup, according to me, is mascara. I think it opens up your eyes unlike anything else. It was the first thing I learned how to use, actually, when I was 13 or 14. I used to put it on at school and then wash it off before I got home. Right now I am using the Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in Catwalk Black. I don’t like them to be clumpy, but I like them to be voluminous because I don’t wear that much eyeliner or eyeshadow. I do it very carefully—just a little bit—and then comb it out. Sometimes I do eye liner, but I like it smudged more for a little definition.
And then, when I was younger, I used to take berry lipsticks like raspberry red or whatever, and I would use them as stains on my lips and on my cheeks. It gave me a really flushed and natural look, which I loved. I still do it now, all these years later. It’s my go-to fresh face for when I don’t have to wear makeup. I use MAC's Ruby Woo when I'm tired and don't want to wear makeup but want to look fresh. I just put on a red lipstick and nothing else. A bright shade wakes up your skin, but I don’t like lipstick looking like lipstick. I prefer it to look just like I blotted it on.
For my skin, I use MAC's Studio Fix Fluid Foundation or Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in Honey 5 when I need a quick fix. They're super thick, so you have to be careful how you use them. Ideally, foundation is not something I like to use. When you don't feel like it and can skip it because you have clean skin, that's really the best feeling. That's why I'm very into taking care of my skin. When I do use foundation, I don’t put it on my cheeks, which is the most obvious place to start off—just on my nose and the areas that I don’t want to look shiny.
Brows need to be on point, and I prefer threading to waxing. Because your skin is so sensitive around your eye, waxing can create wrinkles. It’s also really important for your eyebrows to be extremely well filled-in. If you have great eyebrows and a good lip, then you don’t need anything else on your face. My mom used to do her own eyebrows when she was in school, so I've known how to do for years. If you have sensitive skin then it is kind of tricky—you have to find the right technician to do it. And when you find her, keep her! My hairstylist does it for me. Her name is Priyanka, actually—same as mine. On set, whenever she is called I get startled. [Laughs] I always used to get a heart attack.
I do two or three shoots a day and my hair gets blown out every morning, so it really needs to be cared for. I cut it three months ago but had to use extensions because of some projects I was working on. Now I'm glad that it's short because it's so hot. Every week, I try to do a conditioning mask, which is the Kiehl's Olive Fruit Oil Deeply Repairative Hair Pak. They have amazing hydrating masks, and I use them as often as I remember. I also do oil massages on my head. You put coconut oil on your roots and just massage. It’s a very old Indian tradition, even though coconut oil is just catching on in the States. It helps create healthy hair, but you have to wash it off with another conditioner after about an hour. You can get it done at spas, too.
If I have the option to style my hair, I just won't. Today it was done for shoots, but I like it just up in a bun. I like that style with high heels and a topknot. Maybe that's bad to say, but that's all I can do. [Laughs]'
—as told to ITG
Priyanka Chopra photographed by Tom Newton.
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