Confidence is not something I was born with. Growing up, I was quite the tomboy, but my mom was impossibly glamorous. She always smelled amazing and used to walk around in a cloud of Dior Poison perfume. I envied her incredible grace and how she was so well turned out. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more like my mom, and I love being well put-together. But when I started doing beauty pageants at 17 years old, I had such low self-esteem. I didn’t know about hairstyling or makeup — I didn’t even know how to use foundation. The first time I had my makeup professionally done [for a pageant], I was completely mesmerized because my face looked so flawless. Granted, I probably had on 5 pounds of cosmetics, which makes me laugh because at the time I didn’t realize that was too much, but I remember the feeling viscerally. That’s when I started to discover my feminine side. I realized how fascinating it is being a woman and having so many choices in how we style ourselves. Over time, I began enjoying how I felt when I walked out the door, knowing that I represented the mood I was in that day and that I was put-together the way I wanted to be. This became so empowering to me. Eventually, I learned that if I focus on my strengths, then the weaknesses don’t show, and I became more and more confident.
Self-care is extremely important to me and something I always make time for. Especially skin care — we spend so much time on makeup and clothes, but I feel best when my skin is glowing and I barely need any makeup. Whenever I have a night in, I slather on a really thick face cream like Obagi Hydrate Luxe and leave it on as a mask for about 20 minutes. Twice a month I do a DIY scalp oil treatment that my mom taught me: Combine a bit of coconut oil with a dash of castor oil and massage it into your scalp, let it sit for a little while, then shampoo. She swears this helps your hair grow in healthy. And I exfoliate my body at least twice a month. I spend five minutes buffing my skin with a loofah in the shower, then afterward, I blend a hydrating oil like argan oil with body lotion and really go to town massaging the mix into my skin. If you do this routine a few times a month, it keeps your body supple and smooth. Fragrance is also key for me because it’s about more than just glamour — it makes me feel groomed. There’s something so magical about a good scent on someone. In fact, the first thing I noticed about my husband, Nick [Jonas], when we met was how great he smelled.
I really enjoy the creative aspect of getting glam for the red carpet and crafting a hair and makeup look around a particular dress. I always go against the grain of what the dress is telling me to do. So, if I’m wearing a floral dress, instead of doing soft hair and makeup, I go the opposite direction with sleek hair and dramatic eyeliner. It adds a certain sense of style, and I find the magic happens when you go against what’s expected. Though when I’m on my own, just going out to dinner with my husband, I get dressed in, like, 10 minutes. I swipe on mascara and lip balm mixed with a bit of lipstick. And if my hair isn’t already blown out, I’ll throw it into a topknot, which is the easiest, chicest way to look pulled together.
For me, glamour is doing the things that make you feel like the best version of yourself. It’s one of the reasons I got involved in Obagi’s Skinclusion campaign, which aims to shift people’s biases about beauty standards and bring more inclusivity to the beauty industry. People used to say to me, “You don’t look Indian.” Well, how do you know what an Indian person is supposed to look like? When I was younger, these comments made me question where I fit in. But I don’t question myself anymore. When I walk out the door in the morning, it’s like a switch flips on and I can just grab the day and take the bull by the horns.
For more stories like this, pick up the February issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Jan. 17.
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