The New Silk Route: How a Fabric Makes You More Beautiful

Once considered the gold standard for luxury textiles, silk is fast gaining a brand new identity – as the hautest new ingredient in foundations, perfumes, skincare and haircare products. From  Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau foundation to Elemis’ Japanese Silk Booster Facial and Vidal Sassoon Silk Essence Hair Treatment, these mulberry-derived fibres are popping up in luxe goodies everywhere. But how exactly does a fabric work in beauty products?

In haircare, the filaments usually take the form of hydrolyzed silk proteins that are derived from degummed silk worm cocoons. These form a transparent film on the hair that increases the elasticity of your tresses, boosts shine, binds moisture and step up volume  – the perfect antidote for dry or damaged locks.

Skincare products call on silk proteins, which are a natural, water-soluble source of acid derived from liquid silk. These precious acids aid moisture absorption and help heal damaged or stressed complexions.

In a foundation, silk filaments are used to create a micro-mesh, which gives the pigments an elasticity that helps them bond and move with the skin. This allows the foundation to give lasting coverage.

Holy & holistic: Discovering Ila skincare

Yesterday, I chanced upon a divinely gorgeous brand called Ila, which felt absolutely luxuriously fabulously blissful against my skin while calling upon ‘vibrational energies’ to soothe the senses. Developed a handful of years back by Denise Leicester, a Brit who came to India and fell in love with it’s culture, traditions and flowers, it offers up a sensual medley of fragrant floral and plant extracts, natural mineral oils and Himalayan salt crystals. The word ‘Ila’ comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘earth’ and there is a sacred place in northern India at the confluence of the Sarasvati and Drishdvati rivers known as Ilayaspada, which is considered to be extremely holy.In keeping with it’s name, the brand is devoted to the ancient practises that respect the sanctity of Mother Earth while calling upon it’s healing energies. According to the founder, “Everything in our products comes from a plant or mineral – nothing else.” But the brand goes even beyond the merely organic – ensuring an exceptionally high degree of purity in every ingredient. All the products are entirely free of synthetic chemicals and are crafted by sourcing the finest ingredients directly from local producers who cultivate and harvest the raw ingredients in harmony with nature.

For example, the Rose Damascena from India (below), which forms a core ingredient in many of the signature products, comes from a family that has been growing and distilling roses for many generations according to a centuries-old methods. The water is drawn by solar energy, then mixed with petals in copper vats and heated by natural fire-fuel. The spent petals are fed to the cows, completing a cycle that begins and ends with nature. The end result is a distillate of Rose Otto with a depth, a richness of scent that is so potent, I can smell the fragrance and feel it’s silken touch a full 12 hours after washing the Body Balm for Feeding Skin and Senses off my skin!

Similarly, the Argan Oil from Morocco (below) is made by a womans’ co-operative whose skills have been passed on down the Berber generations. It’s crushed, filtered and cold-pressed in the way it always has been, using many hands and just a few simple mechanical aids. The brand owners eschew middle-men, choosing instead to travel and handpick the “purest sources” by themselves, which lays the foundations for fair trade. The reason? “The purer the source and the process, the purer ila’s products will be and the more suffused with the earth’s natural healing energy.”

The products themselves are artisanal and hand-blended in an environment of peace and purity, accompanied by the rhythm of energy and balance-imbuing chants, in the English countryside. This is to imbue the finished holistic products with all the pure vibrational energies of nature that work in consonance with the therapeutic ingredients “to improve natural beauty through the health and vitality of our skin, to increase well-being through the transforming effects of energy healing, and to connect to a greater sense of inner serenity.”

The products have garnered a number of awards and are available at premium outlets across the world (including the Four Seasons Spa in Mumbai, which also offers up terrific spa rituals based around the same,  for the benefit of Indian connoisseurs). Prices normally start at approximately Rs. 2,000 (or 35 British pounds, depending on which part of the world you are based).

Black magic: Givenchy Le Soin Noir Cream

In the bewitching world of hi-tech beauty, black often equals white, as is the case with Givenchy’s Le Soin Noir Cream. Alongwith its striking appearance, this rich black cream has an astounding effect on skin. And do not be intimidated by the bold hue – the cream simply melts into the skin, turning completely transparent, and leaves only stunning results (like diminishing fine lines, hydrating dry areas, tightening the skin and preventing premature ageing) in its wake.

It’s secret is a unique algae (called Skeletonema Costatum and now patented by Givenchy), which has phenomenal restorative powers that help repair the communication between all skin cells. The algae counter-acts the signs of ageing, leaving the skin firm, glowing and more even toned.

SPF On the Go

Its all perfect to keep talking about how we need to reapply sunscreen every few hours, but what is one to do when you are fully made up and need to step out into the sun during the afternoon? If taking off all your makeup, putting on sunscreen and then reapplying everything is not an option, try one of the new SPF-enhanced pressed powders. While most face powders don’t include too high an SPF (20 is normally the upper limit though some brands are now touching 30), they are sufficient to keep you protected for at least a couple of hours, while being easy to apply over existing makeup. For best results, ensure that you apply evenly all over the face, including the tips of your ears and neck. Some good options: