A beauty editor shares the best skincare, makeup, and wellness hacks

She is all about unfiltered skin and unfiltered thoughts. She rocks red lipstick with as much ease as she shares her bare skin with her audience on social media. Meet Hena Desai, content & community lead, Unilever’s Love Beauty Planet, a body and hair care brand formulated with clean formulas and ethically sourced ingredients. In a freewheeling conversation on beauty, love, and life, this former beauty editor for Grazia shares the best tips and tricks learned through a decade of being a ‘beauty insider’.

Whether you are a beauty junkie or want to build a career in beauty, ahead are some insider insights that will leave you equally inspired and entertained.

What do people think you do versus what do you actually do?

People think I get freebies and goodie bags and post about them on Instagram. Or put a look of make-up and sit pretty. But actually, I’m reading, researching, writing (and re-writing), editing, strategizing/creating digital content, planning photo shoots, coordinating with talent, networking, scouting talent, paginating (go Google that), planning events, hosting chats and also fixing punctuation. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this. Everything is not as glamorous as it looks. The beauty industry is often labeled as shallow and frivolous, but let’s not forget that it’s a multi-billion-dollar global industry that does more than sell products. We promote community, help shatter stereotypes based on physical appearances, and most importantly – assist people in having fun and loving themselves just a little more.

Being a beauty editor is a dream job. One gets to attend glamorous launches, try the latest products (sometimes even before they hit the shelves) and participate in countless fun masterclasses, and more. Is there any hazard to being a beauty editor? 

I’ll be honest, being a beauty editor is great, but the job entails being a certified guinea pig! And that means testing and trying countless products on your face, not just on the back of your hands. As beauty editors, we don’t sift things into ‘hit or miss’ lists just like that; we painstakingly try everything by the book, only then share our experience with readers. In the process, you can end up with bad reactions, rashes, burns, and more. I’ve given myself a burn on my face with a chemical peel, almost cut my eyebrows off with a facial razor, and ended up with peeling skin thanks to an anti-acne serum — you get the gist.

My advice? Try everything on the table, but befriend an ace dermatologist and have them on your speed dial at all times.

What’s been the best find of your career? A product that you will repurchase and why?

That’ll have to be Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. It has a beautiful formulation that’s perfect for all-weather use. It’s helped reset my skin (when it’s dehydrated) in a single-use. No wonder I love it.

If I will look inside your bag, right now, what will I find? No cheating!

Lots and lots of make-up!

  • Sephora Best Skin Concealer
  • Dior Lip Maximiser
  • Victoria’s Secret Tease Roll-On
  • Charlotte Tilbury Lip Balm in ‘Pillow Talk’
  • Mac Extended Play Mascara
  • BeneTint Cheek Tint
  • Dromen & Co Green Tea Blotting Paper

Makup up inside your bag







What’s your ‘I will slay this meeting’ lipstick?

Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of browns – from nude to deep tones – I feel most at home in those. At the moment, my go-to brown is Colorbar’s Sinful Matte Lipstick in ‘Sexy’ – what a fitting name!

Are you a pink or a red kind person? List your top three.

Red all the way! My Faves would be…

  • MAC Russian Red
  • MAC Diva
  • Smash box ‘Bawse’

List your top three products

The one makeup product you have stuck on to since your teen years? 

I don’t think it’s about any particular brand, but I have been wearing lip gloss since my teens, and I’m so happy it’s made a trendy comeback. Back then, it was always some fruit-flavored gloss with chunky glitter (judge away!). I’m pleased to report that I’ve progressed to more sophisticated formulas and finishes like the Dior Lip Maximiser and Bobbi Brown Crushed Liquid Lip Color.

Would you do DIY masks or micro-needling /PRP? And why.

Micro-needling all the way. It’s a great way to heal your skin from within without everyday maintenance.

In your career spanning a decade, which is the most overrated product?

I don’t get the hype around eye creams – I don’t think they work. Under-eye care is essential, but a good moisturizer will hydrate the delicate skin around the area just as well as any expensive eye cream.

And also the most underrated product.

Brow pencil or brow mascara – you have no idea what a BIG difference well-groomed brows make – they can change your whole look!

As a beauty writer, you get to interview many celebrities about their beauty secrets. Which is the most cliché answer, which doesn’t even work. And which is the answer which is cliché but actually works.

Most celebs swear by DIYs like honey and lemon face masks or olive oil hair masks – they may feel good temporarily but I don’t think they work long-term. On the other hand, beauty sleep, staying hydrated, and exercising can change your hair and skin faster and better than any product ever can. Every celebrity or model I’ve spoken to has emphasized this – I refused to believe this but trust me, they’re not lying when they say these are game-changing!

Give a glimpse into your skincare routine. What’s your skin type. Are there any particular concerns, and do products make it from your beauty desk to the skincare shelves?

I have acne-prone skin on the drier side, so skincare is tricky for me. I wear make-up almost every day, so double cleansing is a must, followed by a glycolic acid toner. Then comes a niacinamide serum (to tackle spots and pigmentation), followed by a moisturizer and a thick layer of lip balm. I use a face mask every two days and exfoliate with an AHA/BHA weekly at-home peel (currently using The Ordinary’s Peel).

If you were to share the best beauty lesson you received, what would it be

Apply concealer first, then go over it with foundation – that way, you use less product, there’s no caking, and you end up with s seamless finish too!

best beauty lesson

What skincare advice will you give to your 16-year-old self?

Be confident in the skin you’re in! Know that unlike what you see on social media, real skin has pores and texture – so wear your ‘flaws’ loud and proud because your lines, greys, and scars tell the story of who you are. Oh, and always, always wear sunscreen – your 80-year-old self will thank you! 🙂


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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