The Lakme girl

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Shobha Sehgal’s first pay was Rs 1,000 for working three hours at a beauty salon. “And I gave all the money to my mom,” she says. “Four months before I finished my beauty course, I opened a salon of my own.”

That was in 1985. And it was bold step. “Coming from an orthodox Punjabi family, my father was ashamed of me because he believed I was essentially doing the job of a barber.”

But then, it was something ‘where my hands moved best’ and Sehgal stuck on. After 17 years in the beauty line, Sehgal is 35 and a consultant cosmetologist with Lakme Lever, who conducts workshops for salon owners and other professionals across the country. Not to mention, the mother of two – Akshay (11) and Ananya (5). And her husband’s a civil lawyer.

Many myths came unstuck along the way. “The most common myth is that one shouldn’t get a facial done till one reaches 25,” she says, “it’s such hogwash. The fact is one can take professional help even in teens and a facial cleanses and energises the skin. For all you know, spurious products could be causing acne or faulty skincare regime causing premature aging.”

The myths don’t stop there. “Like henna is very good for you when it’s not because it’s alkaline or that sweets and chocolates are very bad for acne when the real perpetrators are oysters, squids or anything that has a high iodine level.”

Uneven skintone is one of the many concerns of women today. “Those who are fair, want their skin to glow and those who are dark, want to grow fairer,” says Sehgal. “Grand mother’s recipes work, but the skin is now more prone to pollution and a changing lifestyle. So it’s now necessary to apply sunblocks, hydrating moisturisers and gels (if you have an oily skin).”

So what’s Sehgal’s beauty routine like? “In the morning, I apply a moisturiser and a thin layer of sun block. If I am outdoors, I wear Lakme’s Face Magic Soufflé. Before bed time I remove my make-up with a cleanser and wash my face with Lakme’s Strawberry Silk Face wash and finish with Lakme’s Forever Young.”

That’s not all. Sehgal is instrumental in bringing up the new line of cosmetics that address many more beauty concerns of women today: Lakme Intense Glow Facial, Energizing Facial, Toning Facial and Ageless Facial. ‘We are using innovative products, specialised equipment and procedures to give consumers a unique skincare experience.’

And please, don’t go on a diet. Says Sehgal: “If you are on a fat-free diet, you are dehydrating your skin.”

Shobha Sehgal, 35 years
Diploma in cosmetology, Board of technical education, Delhi
Consultant cosmetologist with Lakme Lever for over a year
Member of World Aesticians and British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology
Opened a salon of her own when she was 18
Conducts workshops for salon owners in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and very soon in Bangalore; has been to beauty fairs in London
Has developed over 50 products for various skincare companies

(Published in Explocity, 2003)