Beauty Insider: Gauri Kohli

I still remember the first time I met Gauri Kohli. It was at the prelaunch makeup masterclass for Bobbi Brown. Eliano Bou Assi, Bobbi Brown’s Director of Makeup Artistry was giving us private lessons at The Leela in Delhi. I knocked on the door of the suite and there she was - all red lips, eyeliner and masses of long hair. I really thought that she was some kind of celebrity. Over the years I find that she has this effect on most people - bellboys come and ask her if she needs help (I assure you she doesn’t), airline officials are okay with her standing in the first class line for check in, only because she smiled and shrugged. But, she’s not just a pretty face. As Luxury Director of PR Pundit in India she handles beauty and luxury brands such as the entire Estée group (Bobbi Brown, M.A.C, Jo Malone etc), Dior Beauté, La Prairie and Christian Louboutin among others. She’s also mom to two sons- I don’t know how she handles these brands, events, the media, and also manages to look so, so good. Read on as she walks us through her glamorous world. 

At a global PR meet for Christian Louboutin in New York. 

At a global PR meet for Christian Louboutin in New York. 

  • How long have you been associated with the beauty business?
    I have been handling PR for beauty brands since 2009. My role is fun and dynamic as it ranges from orchestrating an appropriate launch strategy of a brand, establishing and maintaining its position in the market to decoding the right influencer engagement - all this making sure of the right and positive impact. 

    Over the last decade I have been fortunate to work with leading global brands from Estée Lauder Companies including managing the India entry of Estée Lauder, Bobbi Brown and now Jo Malone London, which will be coming soon to India. Amongst the portfolio I also manage the communication mandate in the country for M.A.C, Clinique, La Prairie, Dior Beauty, Ananda in the Himalayas-spa products, and L’Oréal Professionnel. I have also managed projects for Clarins, Michael Kors fragrances, and Kama Ayurveda among others in the beauty space.
Trying on some diamonds with Vacheron Constantin. 

Trying on some diamonds with Vacheron Constantin. 

  • Can you recount some memorable moments from your association with beauty?
    My journey with beauty brands started with the launch of Estée Lauder in India. With Estee Lauder I learnt so many beauty philosophies from their high touch services like 3-minute beauty and a wealth of knowledge.

    I have been fortunate to be a part of many memorable moments since, but I have to say the launch of Bobbi Brown In India stands out for me with the PR campaign of bringing the natural beauty revolution of Bobbi Brown to India. We championed multiple layers of media and influencer engagement, to phasing out the campaign making it glocal, creating a great digital and social media buzz which was just starting to boom at this point…It was all #prettypowerful. 

    Then amongst a local campaign I was instrumental in suggesting and bridging a cool collaboration between Masaba and Clinique for their Lip Pop range of lipsticks and it made me proud the way it all panned out with the customers and media.

    Recently (last month) we managed a benchmarking event with the preview of Jo Malone London where we whisked away India’s top and leading magazine editors, beauty editors, bloggers, wedding and décor influencers to one of industry’s first of its kind preview in beauty in India, at the lovely Amanbagh in Rajasthan. We managed to wow all the attendees and create anticipation for the brand’s entry in India like none other.
  • Do you feel that attitudes towards beauty have changed in India?
    Yes today there are many options and customers are so aware with travel, digital and social media. The beauty media and bloggers tribes have grown and are a big influence through their reviews and comments. Brands are relooking their marketing and communication strategies and the new millennial consumer is now in focus. Entry of many global, homegrown brands and stores such as Sephora are making all of us experiment more than ever before, it has opened Indian consumer’s minds and wallets to products we didn't know existed or we needed. The attitude towards beauty has never been so open, so cognisant of niche brands, niche products, organic, paraben-free, dermatologically-tested, cruelty-free. Beauty was largely about makeup till a few years back. Now, from anti-ageing, antioxidant to what’s on the label to how you can prevent, conceal and even create is so evolved. 
  • What's your skin and hair routine like?
    For me weekday and weekend routine is different. Everyday I follow the simple cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise routine. I protect my skin with Clinique Smart Repair with SPF. Most days I don't wear any foundation. At night I clean my skin with Johnson’s Baby Oil, Boots Makeup Remover Wipes or Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Wipes. I wear Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair at night and also I make sure to eat healthy (almonds, green veggies, fruits, green tea…lots of water). I love natural fruit face masks that are easy to do at home, which I do on weekends. For hair care I get occasional hair spas. Sebastian Shampoo and Conditioner, Moroccan Oil and pure coconut oil occasionally on the weekends.

Can you share three recipes for homemade masks?

  1. My favourite is banana, honey and yogurt mask. Its really simple and great for dry skin. Just blend 1 ripe banana, 2 tbsp yogurt and 1 teaspoon of honey. Apply on your face, leave on for 15-20 mins till slightly dry. Rinse.
  2. For summer its cucumber and aloe vera. Peel and grate 1 medium size cucumber add 2 tbsp of fresh aloe vera gel or Ananda Aloe Gel and Rose Mask. Leave on for 10-15 minutes and rinse. It’s cooling and makes your skin feel hydrated and fresh.
  3. Then there's dahi/besan mask. Mix ½ cup yogurt and 2 tbsp besan (gram flour). You can add chandan (sandalwood powder), but I just apply yogurt and besan. It's a great exfoliator when dry. Follow up with mashed papaya for bright glowing skin.
  • What are the three things that you’ve learnt by interacting with beauty experts?
    I started using SPF at an early age and that has definitely helped me. 
    I loved reading Estée - A Success Story when I began working on the brand in 2009. Since then my favourite beauty philosophy is ‘Your makeup should never precede you but walk with you’. Then I learnt from the brand’s 3-Minute Beauty Service. ‘Three minutes is all beauty should ever take,’ as Estée Lauder said. I kind of stick around these two mantras most.
Photograph by Naina Redhu.

Photograph by Naina Redhu.

What are your makeup essentials for the day and night?
For the day mascara, kajal and lip gloss/lipstick, and a slight blush/tint for cheeks. For the night its smokey/ sparkly eyes OR red lips.

With Mickey Contractor.

With Mickey Contractor.

What is your biggest beauty indulgence?
 L'Heure Brillante by Cartier

  • Do you have any advice for my readers?
    They say happy girls are the prettiest. I feel if you starve yourself or if you get too many artificial things done, go too far so as to change the real you - too much of anything is bad. Beauty should be what makes you feel and look happy! Also know your skin type and invest in quality skincare.