With her high, chiselled cheekbones and sun-kissed strands, Nidhi Sunil is definitely a pretty face. But through her activism about colourism, ageism and diversity, she's making sure that she's not just that, especially at her new job—being the global ambassador for L'Oréal Paris, joining women like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jane Fonda and Eva Longoria in that role. Being in rooms where it all happens is key to amplify representation and inclusivity, according to Sunil: “To have an opportunity to be a part of this mainstream narrative is humbling. I'm at the right place at the right time, and I get to have this conversation for everyone who wishes these conversations were happening for them."
For a model who has been living out of her suitcase for the larger part of the past few years, 2020 afforded Sunil the “beautiful break” to unwind and slow down. But she oscillated between being relieved and being “so isolated, anxious and depressed” during the lockdown. Grounding herself in her daily yoga and meditation practice—as well as therapy—helped. “I have been hanging upside down in the morning with a yoga rope. All that blood rushing to my face, and to my shoulders and to my back feels good. Doing something against gravity makes you feel so energised in the morning,” she shared. A really long ashtanga yoga routine usually follows, which “informs her day, month and life.” As for meditation, Sunil uses an app—Insight Timer—to really get into it.
When it comes to skincare, Sunil has gleaned a lot through trial and error—she recently shocked her face by using a microcurrent device on her face without the conductive gel—as well as the pros she meets, thanks to her job. “I have these teeny tiny lines near my eyes, and the NuFace really wakes my face up when I use it consistently," she confirms. She also leaves her jade rollers, massage tools and sheet masks in the fridge, as the cool temperatures soothe and de-puff her skin almost immediately. “When I have to wake up and go to set at 7am, it makes a huge difference.” For her strands, Sunil likes coaxing her curls out by sandwiching moisture into her hair: “After using shampoo and conditioner, I use a milky leave-in product, then a hydrating gel and then seal it all in with an oil. My curls don't un-frizz—or have the definition I want—without all this moisture." While high-tech beauty tools are a part of her routine, DIY recipes are just as top of mind for Sunil. She uses honey as a lip balm, and mixes lavender essential oil with coconut oil and sugar as a scrub for her limbs.
Sunil has tried the boldest looks out there while on the runway—she's had someone pour oil all over her body, has had 30 hair extension pieces in her hair, had her strands cornrowed—so she's truly done it all. But when it comes to doing it herself, she's still searching for a steady hand. "I have been working in the business for 10 years, but I still can't do a cat-eye. I am in awe of women that can just draw it on in one go." While on set backstage, she's learnt to heat up her eyelash curler with a blow dryer, which really locks in the curl to stay for longer. “You need less mascara for the same effect,” she says. Her mascara of choice is the L'Oréal Paris Lash Paradise Mascara, which fits her eye shape and gets every single lash. “I would tell people to focus on the shape of the wand when they're purchasing a mascara, rather than just the formula,” she says. Right now, she's keeping the makeup at a minimum, but is using her hair as a canvas for creativity. “As an Indian girl, my mom would always say don't touch your hair, because it was always long and shiny and beautiful. But I recently told my colourist to paint my hair as if I was a surfer and the sun was colouring bits and pieces of it. It took six hours to do it, but I now have honey-coloured highlights. I love the idea of changing your identity by changing your hair."
As a model, Sunil is out there for public consumption, and with social media, opinions and comments are rife. But she's found a way to feel 100 per cent comfortable in herself, and her skin. “No amount of beauty products help you unless you have a solid foundation for feeling good about yourself. At this point, I am not catering to somebody else's opinion, which is very freeing.”Also read:
Nidhi Sunil: “Acceptance from the industry came when I gave myself permission to feel comfortable in my short, dark, freckle-faced skin”
Model Nidhi Sunil opens up about being trolled for having dark skin