Kanika Chadda Gupta

Lifestyle

My Royal Ritual

 

After binge watching the Royal Wedding (from the ceremony to past interviews to everyone’s viewing party posts!), I thought about how nice it would be to grow up in a castle or become a princess (every girl’s dream, right?!) We’ll leave that to Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton who are doing an exceptional job at setting an example for young girls – they’re following expectations of the monarchy without compromising their authenticity and roots.

Today I decided to have my own little “royal ritual” at home before my kids woke up at 7 am. I used Ranavat Botanics Eternal Reign Masque which detoxifies, removes daily build-up and grime, and leaves skin feeling clean, smooth and supple. It’s like a refreshing green smoothie for your face! Ingredients include French green clay, neem, Manuka honey, and vitamin C – all certified organic. The mask is safe to use a few times a week. Believe me, there’s nothing like turning a #caseofthemondays into a #MasqueMonday. Treat yourself like the queen you are. You deserve it ladies!

Shop the Ranavat Botanics collection here.

Mommy Makeover!

My mom squad and I often commiserate about how we never get a chance to treat ourselves whether it’s getting our hair done or going to the spa for a relaxing massage or mani/pedi. I was ecstatic when Marie Lou&D Salon in Soho, New York invited me and two of my mommy friends, Minila and Rachna, to get pampered. A second home to high-street fashionistas and celebrities like Hilary Duff and Jill Zarin, MLD and its touted European stylists have been featured in InStyle, Vogue, and Marie Claire.  

We all were treated to consultations with top hair stylists, blow outs, and recommendations on what we should do to maintain our hair based on texture/length/coloring. 

 

Long, Fine Hair:

My hair is fine and very, very long (I don’t get hair cuts, just trims!) I have long layers and got a balayage hair color treatment four years ago that is still going strong (there are strands of caramel/brown that peak through). Hair stylist Tre Wyrosdick, advised that I use Kerastase Elixir Ultime Metamorph oil as a pre-treat before shampooing and conditioning, once a week. 

The product turns into a milk and penetrates each strand. Leave it in for 2-3 minutes, and then shampoo.

To add volume to dull, flat hair, look for shampoos that contain hyaluronic acid and collagen. The Kerastase’s Densifique Bain DensitΓ©  shampoo and Fondant DensitΓ© conditioner add body to thinning hair. 

Before & After:

Dry, Damage-Prone Hair:

Minila is an Indian semi-classical dancer and founder of the Ajna Dance Company. She and her troupe perform a few times a month for TV segments, live shows, and private events and they’re often straightening, curling, and putting up their hairs in intricate up-dos which has left her hair dry and damaged at the ends. 

Shu Uemura’s Urban Moisture Hydro-Nourishing Treatment for dry hair adds intense nourishment and moisture to parched strands. The lightweight formula enters the hair fiber to soften and smoothe while protecting against future dryness. Recommended for normal to thick hair, the hair mask leaves hair tamed, detangled, and shiny with a healthy glow.

Before & After:

Short, Layered Hair:

Rachna is a a marketing executive who travels a lot. She prefers quick fixes to keep her tresses manageable with plenty of volume. 

Shu Uemura’s Texture Wave Dry Finishing Spray provides buildable texture with long-lasting, flexible hold. It leaves hair with a soft, matte finish which is ideal for any hair type or length. The spray helps to build volume and movement in fine hair, helping you achieve that perfect blow-out look. By absorbing oil at the roots without any powdery residue, it feels especially rejuvenating on second-day hair much like a dry shampoo.

Before & After:

We all loved our salon-ready hair and were happy to know that we could easily achieve results at home with the right products. #MomWin!

Our First Family Photo shoot

We had our first family photo shoot when our twins turned 7-months-old. This was a special day for us since if felt like our life had come full circle. Sunil and I actually met on a photo shoot. We both submitted our headshots (he sent in his Friendster profile photo. Throwback to 2005!) for a casting call for Indian models in New York. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us had aspirations of walking the ramp in Paris, we just wanted to have some professional photos of ourselves. We were both selected and assembled at renowned wedding photographer Jay Seth‘s studio with a group of other young working professionals. We were told the photos were going to feature in Bharat Matrimony’s new spin-off magazine, Desi Match, and as billboards for Khazana boutique in New Jersey. Jay picked Sunil and I out of the lot and said, “you two are going on my cover.” We went in to hair and make up (by the one and only Sushmita Patel), and I donned a pink and gold wedding lehnga and Sunil a gold sherwani. Here we were, pretending to be a newly-married couple on the very first day we met.

I laughed nervously, but Sunil put me at ease. He whispered, “Relax. Let’s have fun with this.” He still has a unique way of making me feel secure and bringing lightness to any situation. 

 

After the shoot, Sunil and I went our separate ways. We reconnected five years later and went on our first date. We reminisced about our shoot and then just hit it off as we talked endlessly about growing up as Indian Americans, our love for all things Punjabi from bhangra to rajma chawal, and our take on what truly matters to us in life. We married (for real this time!) in 2013 and of course Jay was our wedding photographer of choice. We enjoyed our newlywed years, and had our twins, Krish and Suhana in 2017.

Jay was so thrilled for us and said when the kids are sitting up on their own, let’s do a big Gupta family shoot. It turned out so well. They get it from their mama and papa! Here are a few of our favorite shots.

 

Here are a few things I learned when it comes to photographing kids:

  1. Be prepared. Pick out their outfits, backdrops, accessories (headbands, sunglasses) the night before so you have seamless transitions from one outfit or location change to the next. 
  2. Let there be light. We shot indoors with natural light and no flash (this is distracting for the kiddos and they will inevitably blink). We also shot photos outside around 11:30 when the sunlight was not too harsh, yet they still got to rock their little sunnies.
  3. Stick to your schedule. All kids are happiest in the early morning after they’ve had their first feed of the day. We blocked 10:00 – 12:00 pm for our shoot which was perfect timing. Their tummies were full from their 8:00 am feed, we gave them a bath, and they were active and energetic by the time we were rolling. They got a bottle at 11:00 am at the halfway point and then we went outside for the second half of the shoot. As soon as we came back home, they were put down for their nap and they slept soundly. Whew! 
  4. Play with your built-in backgrounds. Our best shots were on our bed with colorful throw pillows in the background. I used a grey wood vinyl backdrop I found on Etsy which we hung from the foot of the bed and had them pose on our shag rug. These photos looked like they were in studio! We also captured the babies on their play mat, doing what they do best – jumping, bouncing, and giggling. 
  5. Do a monkey dance. In order to get your little ones to look squarely into the camera, you’ll have to entertain them! Use jingling toys, rattles, bells and shake them near the camera lens. Their gaze will be fixed on the toy and if you sing, dance, shake, rattle, & roll, you’ll get them to give you their million dollar smiles.

Doing a photo shoot around the 7-month-mark is best since babies are able to sit up on their own and even crawl around a bit, but aren’t walking and getting into everything. We loved this phase of their lives and are going to cherish these photos! Thank you Jay Seth Photography for your matchmaking skills, and capturing these family memories.

Flaunt Your Baby Bump

Pregnancy is your time to embrace your womanhood and show off that bump! Gone are the days of dowdy maternity wear (think flowers and polka dots) since boutique retailers are changing up the game with timeless staples that are trendy, smart, and ohhhhh soo comfy. Spandex, where have you been all my life?! Here are some of my favorites.

  1. Asos Maternity. When it comes to high street, Asos just gets it. Don’t be afraid to look edgy. Harem pants, jersey dresses, yes please!
  2. Shopbop. If you’re into designer duds, you’re sure to find outfits that strike your fancy on this marketplace. From slouch dresses to off-shoulder tops, you’ll look like a glamizon in these outfits.
  3. Rosie Pope. Active wear for expecting moms is especially hard to find so I was relieved to say the least when I came across this collection. I worked out with my personal trainer until my last trimester so was in desperate need of workout pants that had some give. This gear will last you a while since you’ll need the tanks & yoga pants when you’re aiming to get back to your pre-pregnancy bod. Now go kick some butt!
  4.  Isabella Oliver. Well tailored clothes make the woman. You’ll look tres chic in these maternity tunics and skinny jeans. 
  5. Liz Lange Maternity for Target. Sometimes it’s all about the basics. I lived in ribbed tanks and leggings when I was at home, gorging on vanilla ice cream and watching “Felicity” reruns. Team Ben or Team Noel? Years later, I still couldn’t decide.
  6. Seraphine. This line had the best wrap dresses, which can be worn pregnant or not!
  7. Destination Maternity. With collections like Jessica Simpson, Motherhood, and Pea in a Pod, this is a one stop shop. They have nursing bras and maternity panties here too. Trust me, you’ll need to revamp your underwear drawer once you get the good news.
  8. Pinkblush. If you’re planning on doing a maternity shoot, you may just want to browse their maxi dresses. They’re sure to make you feel like an ethereal beauty. 

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