Health

Here’s What’s in Padma Lakshmi’s Self-Care Survival Kit

When you’re feeling half-empty, how do you fill your cup? In Self-Care Survival Kit, SELF asks famous people to share the products and habits they turn to when they need a pick-me-up.

Almost exactly a year ago, Padma Lakshmi announced that she would be stepping down as host of the hit competition series Top Chef, a role she held for over 17 years and 19 seasons—that’s approximately 300 “please pack your knives and go’s”. Longtime fans of the show (myself included) were sad to see her leave, but also, we got it: That’s a long time to have the same job, and Lakshmi deserved a break.

But she doesn’t appear to be taking time off. Lakshmi’s been hard at work writing a cookbook and promoting the latest season of her Hulu show Taste the Nation. And on June 6, she found a way to add yet another job to her jam-packed calendar: lingerie designer, thanks to a collaboration with Bare Necessities. At a launch event for the line, Lakshmi tells SELF that she loves staying busy and she loves to be “on”—but even an extrovert needs to power down every now and again, and self-care for Lakshmi looks like unstructured time.

“I’m not one of those creative people who are like, ‘I hate everybody.’ I want to go out. I love talking to people,” Lakshmi says. “But it also does drain me…and lately I’ve just felt spent. I have no more ideas; I have nothing to say. And the way that I combat that is just by creating literal and figurative space for myself.”

While Lakshmi says she loves a massage (and tries to find time for at least one each month), her moments of zen don’t need to look any specific way. “For a lot of people, self-care involves candles and meditation,” she says. “I could be eating a PB&J sandwich with a cup of tea as long as it’s quiet and unstructured and peaceful. That, at this point in my life, is the greatest luxury.”

It’s in these calm moments, spent with her 14-year-old daughter Krishna or cooking dinner for a small group of friends, that Lakshmi feels most comfortable. And that’s a feeling she’d like a lot more of in her life. “My goal is to keep being as much myself as I can. As I progress and age, that’s all I want,” she says. “When I see somebody and they’re so comfortable in their skin—they don’t give a shit; they do not give a flying fuck about what you think or what they look like—they become so much more alluring to me. And that confidence is gold, and that’s what I aspire to.”

Here’s what Padma Lakshmi would pack in her Self-Care Survival Kit:

1. Eucerin Original Healing Lotion

“The number one thing in my kit is so basic—it’s Eucerin body lotion. I love Eucerin. You can buy it at any drugstore. I have oily skin on my face, but dry skin everywhere else; I get ashy, so I use the lotion as soon as I get out of the shower. I keep the large pump version at home, but I also buy it in small tubes so I can take it wherever I go.”

2. Neil’s Yard Essential Oils

“My other self-care go-to is a small collection of essential oils. I get headaches from a lot of store-bought perfumes—it doesn’t matter whether they’re really expensive or dime-store ones. So I make my own perfume with organic essential oils, and I always have a little kit with four or five that I can mix for different uses. Neil’s Yard is a brand that I really like; they’re all organic, and they plant trees in the areas they source ingredients from, which is nice.”

3. Bose QuietComfort Headphones

“I love my podcasts. I listen to one called Hidden Brain and it’s about neuropsychology. The host [NPR’s Shankar Vedantam] interviews researchers about their research, but also their personal stories, and what led them to dedicate their lives to whatever topic they’re researching. It’s geared toward questions like: Why are you hard on yourself? Or, Why do we self-sabotage? It’s really serious research, peer-reviewed, backed with science, but it’s very conversational. And [Vedantam] has such a soothing voice.

I am a very auditory person, and for Mother’s Day, my daughter got me these beautiful Bose headphones. She had got them as a birthday gift from her dad, and I was always eyeing them. She put them on me once and I was like, Oh my God. So she got them for me, and now I can listen with surround sound thanks to these big headphones.”

4. Bare Necessities Ribbed Dress

Padma X Bare Necessities

Ribbed Knit Tie-Back Lounge Dress

“I was willing to suffer for fashion earlier in my life. But maybe five years ago, I just wasn’t anymore; I’m just not willing to be uncomfortable. I remember when that happened to my mom too—she just couldn’t wear tight jeans anymore. This dress, I would consider a very essential part of my self-care. I can move in it, it’s stretchy. It makes you feel super cozy but also sexy…I hope that, with this collection, people wear it, love it, and forget about it.”

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