What Ayurvedic Beauty Expert Shrankhla Holecek Has Been Using As Of Late
When I have questions about Ayurvedic principles and how they apply to beauty rituals, Shrankhla Holecek, MBA, is one of the first sources to come to mind. Holecek not only grew up in a household that practiced Ayurveda, but her family's centuries-old farm in central India grows botanicals that turn into some of the most exquisite essential oils in the world—used by some of the most prestigious beauty companies around.
This unique upbringing has made her a wealth of knowledge of both Ayurvedic beauty (in fact, she's written about the concept for mindbodygreen quite a bit—which you can check out here) and about the skin-healing properties of many plants.
In her brand, Uma Oils, they take those coveted botanicals and time-honored lessons and turn them into high-quality, top-shelf beauty products. But it's not just her intimate knowledge of oils and Ayurveda that pique my interest—I also like hearing about what she's been using lately. Here, we get into all that and more.
Tried and true: Sandalwood oil
"As far back as I can remember, I've always had an oil in my routine, but sandalwood, in particular, is my favorite. It's something that my sister and I used as children, my mother grew up with it, and our family has used it for ages. It is always a staple for me because whatever I'm struggling with, it seems to solve—whether that be dullness, dryness, or tired-looking skin, they all seem to be resolved pretty easily with a very high-quality oil.
"Sandalwood has a very rich history in Ayurveda. Any sort of crown jewel skin care treatment in India, it always contains sandalwood.
"It also has an interesting connection with royalty and rarity. About 300 or 400 years ago, the ingredient was banned for cultivation in India for a variety of reasons. One was that the royals wanted it to be very carefully stewarded because they worried that willy-nilly production of sandalwood may end up having the ingredient lose its allure. Only certain farms of certain families were allowed to grow it by royal decree. The ban stayed in place until about 10 years ago.
"But it's also because the plant is incredibly difficult to grow and extract—it's a tree that takes 20 to 25 years to mature. The investment horizon is so long and high that even when the ban was lifted, people were not really cultivating sandalwood.
"So, perhaps because of the rare luxury of it and the ingredient profile, it was treated with such reverence that it's only used in high-quality formulas."
The surprise hit: A high-performance clean mascara
"I don't think about makeup a lot. I didn't grow up wearing makeup, and I just haven't used it in a big way as I've gotten older.
"But I was really surprised by how high performing the mascara from Ilia is. When going the clean route with makeup, I was expecting to make a few compromises with performance. But this mascara is just incredible."
The secret: Hot-cold compress on the eyes
"I was a swimmer growing up, and I used to do backstroke. During one practice, my cornea got injured. Long story short, my ophthalmologist gave me the advice of basically doing hot and cold compress on the eyes to bring the swelling down.
"The doctor told me to get a clean, brand-new sock, fill it with some rice, microwave it, wait until it's a comfortable heat, and place it on the eye until the compress cools to room temperature. Then I'd switch to something cold, like an ice pack. I'd do this a few times.
"While I did that, I started to notice that my dark circles would just disappear. Sure, the swelling also came down, but I really noticed that my dark circles were just dramatically less apparent.
"So it became my go-to trick for any big event that's coming up. I do this routine four or five times in a night. The alternating between the hot and cold gets the circulation going in the area, which helps the skin."
The up-and-coming: Deep tissue facials
"I think that facial and body techniques that target the underpinnings of the skin are really going to have a moment. We've already seen it happen with lymphatic drainage massages, but I also think you're going to see very skilled facial work that even goes under the muscle for tension relief.
"I've been in lots of facials where it's basically just about the application of products. And while it is nice to have someone else put it on me, I do think sometimes facials should go beyond that.
"A really good facialist or aesthetician knows the body tissue, how it sits on top of each other, and that you can have a pretty dramatic impact on your appearance if you target that.
"When an expert is working on you who really knows how to take that journey with someone, someone who is skilled and present in the room, it's really profound and powerful. There's a lot of power in touch."
The splurge: Body work
"This is so personal because one person's indulgence is not another's, but I have always stuck to three healing modalities and prioritized investing in them. I get acupuncture. That's a modality that has been very helpful when done with the right person. At home, I have invested in a Theragun. And I try to take 25 minutes a day to meditate. Doing these three things has really changed me."
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.