Geetu Hinduja on the art of growing older with grace
The singer-songwriter questions societal ideas of beauty
There’s nothing we love more than a woman who does things her way, and Geetu Hinduja shines in that department. The 59-year-old holds audiences rapt with her guitar and soulful voice, but just as much with her confident fashion choices, be it bright saris or her gleaming silver mane. We took notes from her on how to grow older with grace.
ELLE: What’s your beauty philosophy?
Geetu Hinduja: Beauty is about character and qualities that a person possesses, rather than something physical.
ELLE: Who are your personal heroes?
GH: I look up to Meryl Streep: it takes courage to do the kind of roles she has chosen. I’ve also admired Annie Lennox—her music and her humanitarian work. Lately, I think Lady Gaga is pretty incredible too. After watching her film [A Star is Born], and her documentary [Five Foot Two], I’m amazed by her grit and drive. I’ve seen [Bharatnatyam dancer] Leela Samson perform, and while I don’t understand dance very well, the grace with which she carries herself is amazing.
ELLE: Do you follow a daily beauty ritual?
GH: There’s no drill, I try and do things when I can. My good skin is partly hereditary, and partly thanks to my friend Monica Palta. For the past 40 years, I’ve been using her all-natural, homemade packs. There are different face packs, a rejuvenation oil and an almond under-eye pack that I mix with milk or cream.
ELLE: Your beauty routine seems fairly simple, were you never swayed by fancy formulas?
GH: There was no emphasis on all these things when I was growing up. Till I got married at 19, I had never been to a salon. My mother taught me how to tweeze my own brows, she basically taught my sisters and me how to do everything by ourselves. My daughter is always urging me to go to a salon, but I believe if I can do this myself, I’d rather do that.
ELLE: What is your fitness routine?
GH: Over the last one year, I set myself up for a challenge: I wanted to go on a trek in Nepal. I didn’t accomplish it because of my bad back, but I got into a routine of weight training, practising yoga, swimming and walking. Sometimes I like to cycle while doing my errands on a Sunday morning.
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ELLE: How do you feel about ageing?
GH: I greyed when I was 21, and coloured it all the way till my mid-thirties. At that time, I lived in an environment where the concept of beauty focussed on how you look, and after trying very hard to fit in, part of me started rebelling against it by not colouring my hair. This was exactly 24 years ago. Around that time I had also started working, which became a journey of self-discovery—and funnily my hair became the physical aspect of that journey. That said, it wasn’t easy and I had my vanity destroyed many times. I remember, very early in my life, my then eight-year-old daughter calling me “ancient”. Then when I got leucoderma in my forties, a make-up artist I knew well said, “Oh my god, you’ve been disfigured”.
ELLE: Leucoderma is still very stigmatised. Did you find it hard to deal with?
GH: It was extremely traumatic. I always covered up, bought every stole I saw and only wore long-sleeved T-shirts. But around the same time, my youngest sibling was diagnosed with breast cancer at 33. When I saw this vivacious woman dealing with a life-threatening disease with so much grace, it really put things in perspective. I realised I wasn’t so fixated on my leucoderma anymore.
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ELLE: How do you take care of your amazing silver mane?
GH: Thank God for purple shampoo! The Aveda Blue Malva has been my saviour. This is the first time, I’m growing out my hair after having it really short for 30 years, and I’m really enjoying wearing all kinds of colourful flowers in it. It was always a dream to live in saris and wear gajras when I got older.
ELLE: Do you have any wellness practices you would recommend?
GH: In the last year and a half, I began following [nutritionist and wellness expert] Anju Venkat’s diet. Since then I’ve seen a change in my digestive system, which must be translating onto my skin as well going by the reactions I’ve been getting. I’m also aspiring to be a minimalist. It’s a long journey because I have three wardrobes stuffed with saris, clothes, costume jewellery and shoes.
On Hinduja: Silk blouse, metal ring, metal nose pin; all Hinduja’s own. Silk sari, Payal Khandwala. Silver earrings, Ritika Sachdeva at Minerali. Semi-precious stone ring, Azotiique
Featured photograph: Shubham Lodha; Styling: Akshita Singh; Hair and make-up: Anuradha Raman; Assisted by: Dhwani Jhaveri (Styling)