Late last year, Radhika Nair made her Paris Fashion Week debut as the first-ever Indian model to walk Balenciaga. The fashion and beauty industries zeroed in on the overnight sensation, whose success was of course not overnight at all. A woman of many talents, Nair had been modeling in India since 2012, all the while practicing yoga and honing her skills as a photographer. "I enjoy bringing a creative vision to life," she told Vogue. "I particularly love the storytelling aspect of [my] job as well as the versatility—every image is different, and with that, I get to explore different sides of myself.”
Nair is now signed to Ford Models, walked for Balenciaga for the second time a week ago, and is quickly becoming one of 2017's models to watch. But there is so much more to Nair than her commercial success. We spoke with her about her perspectives on Eastern versus Western beauty standards, diversity in the beauty industry, and some of her best skincare secrets from India. Keep scrolling to read her inspiring beauty advice!
1. In South India, knowledge is valued over aesthetics, and she carries that with her every day.
Much of Nair's self-possession comes from her upbringing in South India. "That side of the country, people don't really care about the way you look but how cultivated you are and how much you know," she tells me. "So it's all in the mind and not just skin deep. I was brought up to believe that." As an adult, Nair believes, "Beauty should be unique and without boundaries or definition. Beauty is intriguing and unique and diverse."
2. She knows that an easygoing attitude will lead her to success.
Nair paid her dues quietly in the modeling industry, working in India for years before her Paris Fashion Week debut. But if you ask her to vent about the challenges of launching a modeling career in the West, she'll tell you it's all been a breeze purely because of her mindset. "Nothing's been challenging because I am easygoing," she reflects. "Each day is a new day and comes with its own surprises. The international market has accepted me for the way I am, and I couldn't be happier or more comfortable.
I feel at home here."
Beauty should be unique and without boundaries or definition.
3. She understands that the beauty industry isn't perfect, but she doesn't let that get under her skin.
Nair acknowledges that there isn't enough representation of people of color in beauty and fashion. "But I don't want to give it so much power," she asserts. According to Nair, the discussion surrounding diversity "is a cliché." As she says, "Individuality is beautiful, and you could be born anywhere—it doesn't matter. Beauty cannot be generalized because it's not just about your perfect features or how your face appears to others. It's about the way you move, the way you talk, the modulation in your voice, the spark in your eyes when you talk about something that excites you, and it's also about what you are passionate about."
4. "Fitting in" has never been her goal.
Feeling ostracized by the beauty industry has never been a concern of Nair's because inherently, she knows that her unique qualities are an asset. She encourages others to start thinking the same way. "That's your biggest gift, that you don't fit in," she says. "Jealousy is a waste of time and a waste of life. Admiration is a gift, and we should all admire beauty without trying to own it or claim it."
It's all about what you put on the inside, and the outside takes care of itself.
5. Her best beauty secrets come from her mother.
Nair has met dozens of top models, makeup artists, and stylists at Paris Fashion Week. But her mother is still her biggest beauty inspiration, and she attributes so much of her current beauty routine to what she learned as a child. "My mother doesn't use any products but natural, homemade remedies like turmeric, coconut oil, and egg white," she says. "She always grows in her garden what she uses on her skin or her beauty regime. I also like [my routine] minimal and low-maintenance. It's all about what you put on the inside, and the outside takes care of itself."
Want more beauty exclusives? Step inside the mind-blowing skincare routine of a Swedish model.