Padma Lakshmi's Skin Always Looks Ridiculously Perfect: Here's How


Paley Fairman

When Padma Lakshmi first entered the Byrdie studio for her video shoot, her skin looked so airbrushed that I thought something was clouding up my contact lens. But, no, alas, the 47-year-old model, author, and Top Chef host really does have the complexion of someone 20 years her junior. I don't know about you, but I look at someone as poised and accomplished as Lakshmi—a multilingual philanthropist and women's rights advocate who has found self-made success in myriad fields from modeling to cookbook writing to television—and I think that caring about makeup and skincare must be beneath her. Lakshmi grew up with a single mother, splitting her time between New York City and her hometown of Chennai, India, then went on to build a wildly successful modeling career for herself (appearing on magazine covers like Vogue and Marie Claire in India and posing for designers from Giorgio Armani to Ralph Lauren), which helped her pay for her college degree, paving the way for her award-winning career as a food author and host of Bravo's all-time most successful cooking show.

But I was wrong about Lakshmi's relationship with beauty. That becomes clear as soon as the camera started rolling for our video on Lakshmi's five must-have beauty products. Lakshmi talks about her beauty routine with genuine reverence. She grew up watching her mother carefully apply eye shadow and perfume before nights out and engaging in holistic skincare practices with her family in India, and Lakshmi remains closely connected with her beauty regimen (thus, the flawless skin and makeup).

All those early influences played into the creation of Lakshmi's new makeup capsule collection for MAC (available today on the brand's website), a stunningly packaged 17-piece line including six lipsticks, a gloss, two eye palettes, two blushes, three dual-ended eye pencils, and a trio of brushes. MAC, with its unprecedented color ranges, has been an important brand to Lakshmi since she started modeling in the '90s. "MAC was really the first brand to make products that worked on [women with darker skin]," she tells me. "I remember the moment when I found my color—C5 in Studio Fix—I was so over the moon. I didn't have to mix three or four bottles of foundation."

Talking about makeup and skincare with someone who takes them as seriously as Lakshmi does is one of my favorite things to do as a beauty editor. So, eager to know more about her relationship to beauty and every detail of her current routine, I asked Lakshmi to tell us everything—and to our good fortune, she obliged. Keep scrolling to watch the video and read our conversation.