Your skin’s 24-hour cycle (because for skincare, timing is EVERYTHING!)

If I was to force feed you a rich meat stew at 6 am, followed by a roast chicken an hour later, it’s a definite possibility that your digestive system would rebel AND your energy levels would go into free fall. Similarly, there are reasons we don’t (usually) hit the gym at 3 in the morning, nor do we schedule killer tasks for midnight. Our bodies have a definite internal clock, which predetermines the best time to do work, eat meals and sleep. And for most of the time, we’ve learnt to understand and respect the same.

Unfortunately, we forget that our skin is also a biological entity (in fact, it’s the body’s largest and fastest growing organ) that has a similar internal clock. This internal clock determines the best time to moisturise, shave, wax or apply a treatment. There is also a time when skin will be most vulnerable, most oily or most sensitive. Often, we ignore this skin clock, which may well explain why all those beauty treatments are not delivering on their promise. So don’t ignore your skin’s daily schedule, as that’s what decides the ultimate effectiveness of any product or treatment. Here you have it in a nutshell.

skin-clock7 am – 10 am

  • This is the prime time for puffiness and creases, as lymphatic fluid pools while you sleep, especially under the eyes. So try a cold compress, apply an eye mask or opt for an eye gel that’s enriched with refreshing botanicals like briar rose, cucumber and chamomile.
  • Skin is at its most sensitive right now, so save the deep cleansing, exfoliating, spot-squeezing and massaging for later; instead keep your morning skin routine simple – cold water, mild cleanser and toner.

10 am – 1 pm

  • During this period, our levels of adrenaline (which fight stress) and endorphins (natural painkillers) are highest, making it the perfect time for ouch!-inducing treatments like electrolysis or waxing.
  • Going in for fillers or Botox? Try it during these hours – it’s advisable not to lie down or rub your face for several hours as this could make the serum leak into adjoining areas, causing unevenness and drooping.

1 pm – 3 pm

  • These are the hours when the skin is at its best and the natural barriers are functioning optimally, making it the best time of the day for exfoliating treatment, including DIY peels and clinical microdermabrasion.
  • However, this also the time when you face peak sun damage. Twenty minutes in the midday sun can cause more skin damage than two hours in the early morning, so reapply the sunscreen.

3 pm – 5 pm

  • There is a reason behind the dreaded afternoon oil slick: oil producing glands pump out twice as much at this time, compared to the rest of the day. That’s because androgens (male hormones) increase mid-afternoon, making sebum levels rise to peak-production. To foil the shine, soak up the grease with blotting papers, then apply a thin layer of matte translucent powder.

skin-clock-25 pm – 7 pm

  • These are the most polluted hours of the day, stepping up risk of free radical damage, which can gradually disintegrate skin cells and accelerate the ageing process. Make sure you wear moisturiser that’s spiked with the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E.
  • A study from Manchester Metropolitan University shows that this is the best time to hit the gym: your energy levels are high and muscles and joints are at their warmest, lessening chances of injury. However, avoid having a beauty treatment for at least two hours after the workout, as the rise in body temperature adversely affects the skin’s natural protective barriers, making it extremely sensitive.

7 pm – 9 pm

  • Blood vessels are at their most dilated now, making us go red most easily. So make sure you use some concealer to spare the blushes.
  • As blood flow to the skin increases and endorphin levels drop considerably, you will also become more aware of pain and irritations such as allergies, insect bites or eczema, so keep some calming lotion at hand.

skin-clock-39 pm – 11 pm

  • Your face is more receptive in the evening, when skin temperature is higher and the surface layer more porous, allowing for greater penetration of active ingredients. Start by washing away makeup and grime to prevent clogged pores, blackheads, breakouts and lackluster skin, along with providing a clean canvas for treatment products, helping them penetrate faster and work better. Now is the best time to have a warm, relaxing bath and a cleansing facial massage, followed by the heavy-weight treatments.

Post-11 pm

  • That old adage ‘an hour before midnight is worth three afterwards’ is true; the hormone that triggers sleep – melatonin – peaks at around this time, making 11 pm the hour we should go to bed for maximum skin benefits. But more on this later as it’s a chapter in itself!

Have you noticed your skin responding to an invisible clock? Let’s talk.

Meet Priyanka Chopra. Or should I say, Alex Parrish from Quantico?

The first time I met Priyanka Chopra, she was tucked away in one corner of an extremely chaotic dressing room, devouring an entire pizza. All by herself. Refusing to share. It was a shoot for Cosmopolitan (India) and the young actress was just then stepping into the limelight, riding a combined wave of authentic acting talent and stunning good looks. She was rapidly climbing up the starry pyramid – though still wasn’t anywhere near the point where one could call the shots in a male-dominated industry.

Not that this little bit about maledom and hierarchies and all that other stuff stopped her. Ms Chopra was cool as a cucumber as she chowed down her pizza, waved away the makeup artist while she took time out to help her younger brother with his maths homework and debated the storyboard for the photo shoot till she was completely satisfied. This within an industry where most stars don’t study the storyboard of an entire movie… Priyanka, it was pretty clear even then, was different. Very, very different.

At that point, more than a decade back, I really didn’t like this girl who was so different. There is a safety to interviewing cookie cutter celebs and Priyanka would simply not let you enjoy that comfort zone. She was louder than anyone else I knew in the industry, more vociferous, more challenging, more intelligent, more energetic… just, simply, more of everything.

And she was just simply so contradictory: tough as nails on the surface, yet fragile as glass when she let down her guard (look out for the “daddy’s li’l girl” tattoo on her wrist – it will break your heart); wearing relationships on her sleeve yet refusing to hang out her linen, dirty or otherwise, for magazine inches; chowing down junk food by the carton and yet remaining svelte as a beanpole; scared of heights and yet skydiving from 17,000 feet for fun… you are getting the idea?

priyanka chopra quanticoAnd while it was annoying for me as an interviewer to deal with someone who refused to be pigeonholed into mere words, it is this contrariness that has taken Priyanka literally across the world and into the stratosphere. Today, she sings with Pitbull and runs around trees in fantasy-glam Bollywood fashion yet she also shares many of life’s toughest nuances with five-time world boxing champion Mary Kom, who was born to struggle as the daughter of a landless Indian farmer. Her animated Planes was considered for the Best Feature Film category at the 2014 Oscars, while she was busy promoting the cause of Girl Up, a campaign by the United Nations Foundation. Her single In My City, featuring, debuted as the theme song for the NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, even as Matthew Bishop, the United Nations Foundation New York Bureau Chief, referred to her as the smartest Miss World.

And now there is Quantico: the mega-budget television blockbuster which propels Priyanka into the uppermost echelons of American television, as Alex Parrish, FBI’s star recruit who rapidly becomes top suspect in one the biggest terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. Faces like Nimrat Kaur and Archie Punjabi notwithstanding, this is the first time an Indian actress has grabbed the totem pole in a mainstream television series as a central anchor point and not in a character role or a token Asian presence. Quantico literally revolves around Priyanka’s character, putting her front and centre in the living rooms of possibly those very same “mean girls” who bullied her as a “brownie” when she attended high school in Boston.

Priyanka, as usual, defies stereotyping and pigeonholing. And this time round, I can’t help but cheer for her from the rooftops for this leap of faith.

So, meet Priyanka Chopra: Indian actress, American television star, model, singer, United Nations Foundation ambassador, former Miss World.

Combine this with the fact that she’s the first Indian woman to become and international Guess girl – shot for the campaign by none other than Bryan Adams – and you know that this 33-year-old has definitely arrived. With trumpets blaring.

Time then, to have a proper chat with this multifaceted enigma and figure out what goes on behind those doe eyes and how in the world does she look so gorgeous, all the time!

priyanka chopra quantico2

When do you feel most feminine?

When I slip into my Snoopy pyjamas and do my nighttime beauty rituals – applying different kinds of lotions all over my body, brushing my hair and so on.

The secret behind that show-stopping figure?

Pizza! No, seriously. I love junk food and the pizza in Mumbai is so good. And French fries… sigh! That’s soul food. [I can vouch for this after having seen “Piggy Chops”, as she is known in Bollywood, scarf down a whole pizza pie on at least THREE different occasions!]

So that’s it, all the time? Really?

[Big sigh] I do mix up the junk eating with sprouts, raw veggies (especially fresh red carrots), steamed or stewed stuff and high fibre snacks. I am also obsessed with coconut water and can have any amount of it at any time in the day.

And that’s how you get such flawless skin?

That and the CTM method: Cleanse-tone-moisturize. Every single day. I also take multi-vitamins and drink a lot of water to keep my skin clear and healthy. Water is really important as it keeps skin moist and sweeps out toxins, which would otherwise clog your body and make everything look and feel sluggish.

Shot by Bryan Adams for Guess

Shot by Bryan Adams for Guess

Do you have a nightly beauty ritual?

I can’t go to bed without washing my face thoroughly. Skin won’t breathe or repair itself till all the pore-clogging grime and make-up comes off.

Any secrets to achieving your silky, shiny hair?

I really believe in indigenous kitchen recipes. Warm coconut oil massages are fabulous, as they keep my hair soft and supple while being relaxing as well. At various times, I also bring out the beer, eggs and yogurt for deep conditioning.

What’s the best part about being a woman?

That we get to dress up! On a more serious note, women are emotionally far stronger than men. We can deal with anything and everything without cracking up like most guys. And more than anything else, our capacity to become mothers: That’s truly the most beautiful thing god has bestowed on women.

Channelling Bollywood for Ram Leela

Channelling Bollywood for Ram Leela

What would you do if you were a guy for a day?

Nothing really. I don’t think there is anything that a guy can do that a woman cant. However, I would definitely like to live like Winston Churchill for a day. I want to know how it felt to live with such rigid ideals.

What should guys know about women?

That we love getting loads of attention, lots of sympathy and want to be with someone who understands our point of view. Guys are usually too focused on getting others to see things from their point of view, or in analyzing and solving our problems rather than just listening… and that just does not cut it for women!

What’s the biggest mistake that women make in a relationship?

Being too overbearing or possessive, and not giving any space to your guy.

Priyanka Chopra, India-style!

Priyanka Chopra, India-style!

Your kind of guy?

He will have to meet a long list of requirements. Sincerity, intelligence, good looks — so that our kids, all six of them, will be good looking. He has to be adventurous and spontaneous. A good sense of humour is a must and he should share my fetish for cleanliness. AND he should be understanding, give me my space. Asking for much… why, whatever gave you that idea?

What’s a perfect date?

To the moon and back!

Most romantic dream?

I want to have 6 weddings – all with the same guy! The first will be a typical Punjabi wedding in Ambala (India), with rituals that go on for 18-20 days and the whole extended family stays under one roof. The second will be in a small Mother Mary church in Locarno, Switzerland. The third will be underwater, while the fourth will be in Vegas with Elvis officiating. The fifth will be a nikaah, because I find the whole concept extremely romantic. And the sixth will be as my husband wants it.

Is it easy being a celeb?

I wish people would see an actress as someone who is also human. As a girl at heart who wants to do all the normal girly things, like standing in the rain and having an ice cream. It’s not always about the parties, the glitz and the glamour.

What’s the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done?

Skydiving from 17,000 feet at Locarno, Switzerland. I have always been terrified of heights and had promised myself that I would break the fear before I was 22-years-old.

Excerpted from an interview I did for Marie Claire

Beauty Products To Use When You Have The Common Cold

The common cold already struck my household, and it will likely move on to yours before the year is out. Sadly, having the sniffles doesn’t always get you a day off work, so that means you have to go about daily life without looking like a monster. Learn from my beauty mishaps and learn to look good on the outside, despite how you feel on the inside.

1. Leave the bright lipstick at home.
I always think a cheery pink lip color will help make me look less sick, but when you’re wiping snot off your face with a tissue all day, you’re likely to smear that pretty pout. Instead, keep lips moisturized with a clear balm, likeEOS Organic Lip Balm Smooth Sphere ($3.29, It will keep lips hydrated and can be reapplied all day long without a mirror.

2. Give your cheeks a swipe of color instead.
Flushed cheeks are always a sign of good health, so use a brighter shade than normal. MAC Cosmetics has some lovely berry shades, like Dollymix ($20, that will give your face the pretty hue you need.

3. Tea tree oil is your friend.
When you’re suffering from congestion, tea tree oil can be a natural way to alleviate it. Put several drops in your bath water or use it in water you splash on your face. I, myself, kept a small bottle ($9, at my desk and used it as aromatherapy when I had trouble breathing through my nose.

4. Keep concealer on hand.
Sneezing, coughing, and having a runny nose means you’re going to have to deal with lots of redness. Aside from using lotion-infused tissues, your best bet is too keep a great concealer on you, like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics concealer ($20, Dab a little bit around your nose before stepping into a meeting to fake good health.

5. Go easy on the eye makeup.
Red, watery eyes can sometimes be another side effect of the common cold, so eyeliner is out. Instead, try a mascara for sensitive eyes, like Almay Get Up And Grow Mascara ($7.99, And if you still want a little color on your eyes, try a dark blue or grey eye shadow, which will help reduce the look of any redness you have.

What beauty product makes you look or feel better when you’re sick?

Here’s the proper way to apply powder foundation

Come warm weather days and my thoughts switch to powder-based foundations, especially of the mineralised kind. They are superb at soaking up excessive greasiness, while staying put for hours. Plus they don’t clog the the pores, making them perfect for those with acne-prone or sensitive complexions. And if you apply them correctly, powder foundations can look absolutely seamless, creating the illusion of absolutely perfect skin. Hooked? This is how you should apply powder foundations… mineralised or not.

1. Take a large powder brush, hold it horizontally and sweep the sides of the bristles into the powder with  swift back-and-forth strokes.

2. Then, instead of sweeping the brush across your face (like we do with translucent powder), press the bristles onto your skin with a slight rolling motion. Repeat across the face till you have the desired level of coverage. This totally smoothes out uneven areas, like pimples and dark spots, while allowing you to gradually build up the coverage without it looking flaky or caked on.

3. Then start buffing the outside of the face with a really soft brush, slowly working your way in towards the forehead, nose and chin. The minerals will warm and blend with the oils in your skin to give that “no make-up” make-up look.

4. Set with a light dusting of translucent powder – or, if you want to further the mineral XXXX, XXXX of Bare Minerals XXXX.