Nahema Mehta, Co-Founder, Absolut Art


"I run Absolut Art—it’s an online discovery platform where you can find artists from around the world and purchase their works. Our whole purpose is to bridge the gap between artists creating and people collecting. We try to take that entire journey and redefine what it means to be easily accessible. Absolut has been doing art since 1986—Andy Warhol was the first collaborator, and there have been 600 artist [collaborations] since. What we realized was that Absolut was great at identifying incredible artists and showcasing them to the world, but they weren’t really doing the last step, which is connecting the artist to the consumer. This is Absolut’s first venture outside of spirits—sort of how Red Bull realized they were good at entertainment, and made it into a division…or like how Bvlgari and Armani went into hotels. I got involved very randomly, but I’ve always loved art. I used to work in finance—I’m a recovering private equity person—but I really, really disliked it, so I decided to start a little project on the side. I wanted to build a platform that made art accessible, so I would wake up at 4AM and work on that, and then I would go into work at 9. Now, most of my team is in Stockholm, so I wake up around 5 in the morning. I like to start my meetings by 6.

I love political art and I gravitate towards stories. I love going into the artist’s studios. That experience is what we try to bring online. I was recently in Havana and one of the artists that we were working with was kicked out of the country for three years because his art was too political. When I saw his new pieces, they were even more political than the work I’d seen, and I asked him, ‘Aren’t you afraid of getting kicked out again?’ And he said, ‘If I don’t tell the story of our history, who does? Who has the power to?’ I think that’s the beauty of art—it starts these larger conversations about the world and how we receive it. You fall in love with your eyes first, and once you find out the story behind it, it becomes more interesting. You want to tell that story on your wall.

My approach to beauty is skincare-focused. I generally don’t do much in the morning because I’m always rushed. I use micellar water, wipe my face, put sunscreen on and walk out the door. I’ve been using the La Roche Posay sunscreen forever. I also love the Neogen Dermalogy sunscreen. It’s got niacinamide and it sinks right in. I also use a Tatcha one that’s really good—it feels like a primer. I love hyaluronic acid. I use the NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex and sometimes I’ll use the Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster. My skin gets really dehydrated on the plane, so I go for anything that’s really going to suck in moisture. Hyaluronic acid does a really good job, and so does this lipid cream from Skinceuticals. In the evening, I like to take my time. I like to cleanse and tone and put on a nice serum. The Ole Henriksen Walnut Scrub is a great exfoliant. It’s so old school, but it’s so good.

I change out products as soon as they’re done. I have a few staples, but I’m always tempted to try something new. Glossier Boy Brow is a staple. I’ve bought that at least eight times. When I go to other countries, I’ll pick up something new. Every country, I swear to God, has taken their natural resources and bottled it into goodness. Right now, I’m moving into natural beauty. I was never really looking for it, but as I kept trying different products, I found that my skin responds really well to it. I love using the May Lindstrom Honey Mud to cleanse.

Once a week, I mask. I have several for however my skin is feeling. Dry or congested or whatever it is, your skin needs something different, especially in different climates. The NIOD Flavanone Mud is an outrageously good mask. It makes you glow. You put it on once a week and it just makes everything better. I recently sat on a panel with Gywneth [Paltrow] for Fast Company and now I’m trying some of her products out. I like her exfoliating mask. And I love using the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Dry Sheet Mask before going out. I basically have a whole wardrobe of masks, for use as needed.

With all the travel I do now, it’s a question of keeping my skin in check. I have a plane routine. My goal is to look super fresh when I get off the plane because I’m generally going straight into a meeting [when I land]. I go to the airport completely barefaced. I put a little bit of styling cream in my hair and put it in a bun. That’s the biggest trick for static flyaways. I love the Oribe Styling Cream, I use it all the time. I don’t believe in eye creams, but they do get dry on the plane, so I use the Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Eye Mask on my eyes and my lips for hydration. It’s clear, so I don’t look like a crazy person. I’m all for the people I see in masks—I’m always super impressed! If I’m really going on an all-out flight, especially to Asia where no one cares if you have a face mask on, then I’ll do the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask or anything that’s going to really hydrate. I spray with Avène Thermal Water throughout the flight, and then I follow up with a moisturizer, and sometimes I use the True Botanicals Pure Radiance Serum. I always have Homeoplasmine with me, I’ve been using it since I was a kid.

Just before they make the 30-minute call for landing, it’s game time. I generally have a little kit with me. It’s usually very minimal, but it’ll have a Giorigio Armani High Precision Concealer in No. 2. It’s a wand and it’s super seamless. I must have six of them in different bags. I apply it under my eyes and then anywhere else that needs it. And then, I have a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Night Crimson or Bond Girl that I’ll use on my lips and also on my cheeks. I also have a little bit of oil, and I’ll put that on the high points of my face to give a glow. I always use that Milk Makeup blurring stick, which is no color, but if there is any excess oil on your face it sort of fixes the problem. Then I’m good to go. The routine is the same each time—my mom always said that if you have a routine that you can’t keep up with, you’re never going to do it.

Also, I take a whole bunch of Euro meds—stuff I grew up with. I’m obsessed with Vitasprint B12. I do it everyday. I swear it keeps me from getting sick. I’m always on planes and I never catch anything. If you have a really busy month ahead, order these. I like the B12 and the Echinacea.

I’m not a foundation person, but I like a ton of glow. I put the L. Raphael Perfection Serum all over my skin and it’s just the nicest. It’s supposed to do all these anti-aging things and I’m not sure if it does all that, but it gives the perfect, non-glittery glow. I’ve gone through three of the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow palettes. It’s just like butter, it melts into your skin. I apply it with a brush or my fingers. The glow is really subtle. To find a highlighter for Indian skin that is complementary, but not over-the-top, is rare. If I contour, I use the Burberry Contouring Stick. I really like that one. For blush, I love the Nars ones. I generally like a bold lip. I use the Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks and I also like Glossier Gen G in Jam—I find that it’s enough pigment because I don’t use that much, just a pop.

I love to do a really good exfoliation, to get all the circulation going, just before I get into the bath. I use a coffee scrub—I think it’s more hype than anything, but anyway, I love that. I love a good bath with salts and oils. That’s sort of my biggest indulgence. I use the Fresh Sake Bath, which is my absolute go-to. I read in the bath. Right now I’m reading Find Me Unafraid, which is a charity I work with in Nairobi.

When I get out of the bath, I like to do a really deep conditioning treatment. The Amlactin Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy is not sexy at all, but it works so well. If you use it frequently, it gives you baby soft skin. If I’m going out, it’s Prtty Peaushun. It’s just genius. So many body moisturizers are glittery, but this just gives the perfect sheen and you don’t feel sticky. If I take a picture and I’m not wearing this, I notice immediately.

I was recently at Byredo and picked up Bal D’Afrique. Byredo in Stockholm is so much cheaper—like significantly cheaper. I also love Narciso Rodriguez’s Musc. I still have the old school Egyptian musk.

Generally, I use whatever shampoo I’m feeling, so at the moment it’s Kerastase. I’m pretty lowkey about my hair. But, I always have these two from Oribe—they’re a once-a-week therapy—one is a clarifying shampoo and the other is a really intense hair mask. I use the Living Proof Perfect Hair on the strands and ends of my hair because my hair’s so dry from flying. For volume I use the R & Co Dallas Thickening Spray.

Crystal at Ethan Rose Salon in Tribeca cuts my hair—she does it right every time. I stopped getting it colored for a while, but now I get it highlighted. It’s great because while I get my hair done, I can get a manicure and pedicure at the same time. I like to do gels when I’m traveling and then give my nails a break. i-Plaza Nails and PaintBox are amazing. I like dark, grey nails. Usually my nails are Chanel Monochrome—it’s the new white. It’s unexpected, but in a really understated way. Nails are very important to me. It’s brows and nails, those two things need to be done to look done. You can have a bad hair day, but with brows and nails, you look put together."

—as told to ITG

Nahema Mehta photographed by Tom Newton in New York City.