The Wall Street Journal's new magazine, WSJ, has a wonderful profile of Indian cosmetics tycoon Shanaz Husain, dubbed "the Helena Rubenstein of India." It opens with a description of Husain's beauty regime, which reads like something straight out of the Mahabarata:
Twice a week, Husain treats her hair with 16 egg whites mixed with lemon juice and olive oil. To keep her enormous mane a deep burgundy, she regularly applies a blend of henna powder, ground coffee beans, lemon juice, tea and as many as 20 eggs.
And here is a glimpse of her daily life:
Husain says she often works until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., concluding her day with a foot massage given by one of her live-in beauticians. About 26 servants are on 24-hour call in Husain’s main New Delhi residence (According to Husain, she keeps 19 homes in New Delhi, a 35-acre farm, and houses in Mumbai and London). Her round-the-clock assistants include a florist, plumber, carpenter, electrician, phone operator, makeup artist, photographer and hairstylist, in addition to live-in cooks, drivers, housekeepers, tailors and errand runners. The daytime household staff of 60 operates by a system of small buzzers placed on Husain’s favorite chairs in each room.
I adore that her beauty routines are so carnal and elemental, the ingredients so lavishly primal. There's something batty and insufferable about the portrait that emerges--she calls herself a "princess" and means it--but it's also just plain jaw-dropping. She's like a character out of Rudyard Kipling.
Anyway, she is a household name in India, and her products, which are available online, are soon to be coming to a store near you: "Over the next few months, Shahnaz Husain Group of Companies predicts it will introduce its herbal remedies and luxury skin-care lines—made with diamond dust, crushed pearls and flecks of 24-karat gold—through national chains." Alas, the article states that the formulas will likely be "toned down" for us lily-livered Americans. I remember my first trip to India, when many a well-intentioned hostess went out of her way to make me some kind of "western" dish, like creamed peas and carrots. Wanting to be polite, I'd eat the bland goo, while looking longingly at the spicy masalas everyone else at the table was downing. Bring on the spice!
And bring on WSJ!