My Rituals: Vandana Verma on How Self-care Helps Her Live a Pleasure-centered Life


For Vandana Verma, the head of content at lifestyle brand Nicobar, the women in her life have been fundamental in her self-care and skincare journey. “My mother and maternal grandmother have had the biggest impact on my skincare,” she says. Beyond this, she’s also a self-proclaimed self-care evangelist—she actively pushes against feelings of guilt that tinge many women’s relationships with self-care and pleasure.


That’s why, this International Women’s Day, we’re thrilled to share our candid conversation with Vandana about what self-care means to her, how living in Goa transformed her daily rituals and her advice to women on how to create rituals that work for them.

Q: What does self-care mean to you? How has this definition evolved over the years?


Vandana Verma: Fundamentally, and at this stage in my life, self-care is how I ensure I can show up for myself, and the people in my life.

I couldn’t do even a fraction of what I currently do—work, sustain relationships, be present, or have energy for everything the world demands—if I didn’t support my body’s needs.

This used to involve lots of discipline and denial, but today it’s all the small daily habits that give my life structure, strength, and resilience. The big shift for me was the realisation that feeling good does not mean deprivation, so I’ve consciously shifted toward a pleasure-centered life.


Q: What are some of your self-care rituals?


VV: I have many, but the three main pillars are time spent outdoors, movement, and massage.


For me, daily movement and sweat are non-negotiable. My commitment might’ve stemmed from vanity to start, but I find delight in whatever that day’s movement is (I practice functional strength training, Hatha and Iyengar yoga, and aerial yoga). Plus time in nature—taking my dogs out for a long, rambling walk is now a window of time that is so deeply pleasurable I cannot believe that I took it for granted for so many years, or worse, resented it.


And finally nothing, and I mean nothing, brings me more joy than massage. It is the ultimate in learning to receive, something I’m actively teaching myself to do: you have nothing to do but just lie there while someone does nice things to you. The best, and great for body, mind, and skin.



Q: How has moving to Goa from Delhi changed your daily rituals, and by extension your overall well-being?


VV: The biggest shift has been the fact that I have more access to the outdoors. In Delhi I spent most of my time at home, commuting, at work, or in bars and restaurants. Goa’s given me access to walks and the seaside, and activities with friends that don’t involve eating or drinking.


When I first moved I struggled with a lack of access to great gyms and trainers. But in time I found a great roster of teachers and trainers, and working remotely and not having a commute has opened up time in my day that ensures that I never miss a class. I feel more grounded, less anxious, and more in community here, which has been the most wonderful expansion.


Q: How have the women in your life inspired your self-care rituals and philosophy?


VV: My mother and maternal grandmother have had the biggest impact on my skincare. A lot of the wisdom I’ve gotten from them is rooted in Ayurveda and the idea that if you can’t eat it, it probably shouldn’t go on your skin. Growing up we had weekly oil massages, steaming, and facemasks (using multani mitti, milk, honey and dahi, and fruit like papaya), so keeping these rituals in my life never felt like an effort.


My mum impressed upon me and my sister the importance of doing lots of little things often, and I could not be more grateful for this.


Q: Do your self-care and creative practices overlap? Does self-care fuel or support your creativity?


VV: Very much. It’s impossible (for me, anyway) to be truly creative or prolific at work when you’re exhausted, underslept, undernourished, and cranky. Sure, you can bash out the work, but will it be work that you’re proud of or feel connected to? For me at least, the answer would likely be ‘no’. I’m best, at work or in relationships, when I’m well-slept, have eaten well, and am making time and space in my schedule for rest and quiet.

As a planner, I tend to over-schedule even my self-care, so I often have to remind myself: everything in moderation—even moderation itself.

Q: For many women, taking time out for self-care feels selfish. How do you prioritize self-care while balancing your professional commitments and other relationships, without guilt?


VV: This is a tough one for women and I wish we’d collectively stop feeling so much guilt around everything. This has gotten easier for me as I’ve gotten older. I’ve seen aging family members and the palpable difference that taking care of yourself has on quality of life as you get older.

So today I am evangelical and entirely guilt-free about investing as much as I can in my wellness to avoid having to invest it in sickness.

To have the ability to go to the classes or make the time for the treatments is a privilege. But if you go out, and you have cocktails, and you buy seasonal fashion, then you’re prioritising—and this is a priority for me.


Q: How do you take care of your skin? Do you have a routine that you like to follow?


VV: I do, and I enjoy it very much. I cleanse and moisturise deeply in the AM and PM. I wear sunscreen only if I’m going to be outdoors in direct sunlight. I do facemasks at least two or three times weekly, get a professional facial once a month, and I’m big on face massage and using a gua sha to offset tension in my face from TMJ [the temporomandibular joint found in our jaw]. For my body, I exfoliate and body brush twice weekly, try and get a massage at least once a week, and working out is great for everything. I’ve found that regular yoga also helps offset premenstrual breakouts.


Q: What is your advice to women who are just beginning their self-care journey?


VV: Start small, and make it manageable. Are you looking to move more? Or do you need to eat home-cooked food more often? Is hiring a cook a better investment than buying boatloads of groceries that will go bad while you reach for Zomato?

It’s a never-ending journey, so practice a little self-compassion when making goals. Life is really, really short so make it easier for yourself. Don’t make pledges around things you hate doing.

Vandana Verma’s Recommended Rituals

  • My favorite self-care ritual that’s free is Breathing. It’s simple and profound, and only when I started to focus on it did I realise how often I forget to do this very basic thing.
  • The self-care ritual that's a non-negotiable for me is Movement. Every morning, five or six days a week.
  • My skincare ritual that feels like self-care is Massage.
  • I feel most cared for by myself when I Go to bed early and rise with the sun.
  • A new self-care ritual I want to try is Cupping. I’ve tried it, but I liked it and I’d like to do more.

Related Stories

My Rituals: Swetha Subbiah on Movement, Community, and Her Summer Rituals
A deep dive into our latest launch - Pomegranate Sheen SPF 15 PA++
How to Transition into Summer Skincare and Self-care for Oily Skin Types
Why Lip Oils are The Secret to Soft, Shiny, Nourished Lips
Spotlight on our Indian Ingredient: Pomegranate
Ask The Dermatologist: Dr. Geetika Mittal Answers Every FAQ About Lip Care
Spotlight on Our Indian Ingredients: Gotu Kola
My Rituals: Masoom Minawala on Motherhood and Her Evolving Self-care Rituals
Spotlight on our Indian Ingredients: Apple
Spotlight on our Indian Ingredients: Moringa
Spotlight on our Indian Ingredients: Saffron
Ask the Dermatologist: Dr Jaishree Sharad on Transitional Skincare for Changing Seasons
Why You Need to Know the Difference Between Body Milk and Body Lotion
How to Transform Skincare Into a Holistic Self-care Ritual