Make Up: Fair, Fairer, Fairest

Image Source

I am a dusky woman and proud of it. In a country that is obsessed with fairness, I am happy to be the minority and I'm more than comfortable with my skin. But yes, the society does not let me be at times. With every woman wanting a fair bride for her son (doesn't matter if her son is of the darkest shade) and every alternate ad on TV being about fairness creams, it is not easy to be dark in India. Growing up, you get to listen to people calling you ugly. Next, people are telling your parents about how they will never be able to find a groom for you since you are so dark. Then there are people who refuse to touch you, thinking that the "blackness" will rub off onto them. And no matter what the occasion or the situation, there always will be an aunty who will give you tips on becoming fair. No, Thank You!

As annoyed as I was about this prejudice, I did not think much about it until I went out looking for make up. I have plenty of scars from acne and chicken pox and I was looking for a concealer and compact to cover it. I first went to my local make up store looking for concealers and foundations. He had a few local Indian brands, and all the products looked chalk white. "Use karo madamji, gore lagoge", translating to "Use it madam, you will look fair" was thrown at me by the shop keeper. The color did not blend into my palm, let alone my skin. Next I went to the next big thing to happen to most cities, "Health And Glow". They had the best brands like Lakme, Revlon, Color Bar, L'oreal, Maybelline etc. These brands are really famous in India and I know hordes of women who use them. I was pleased and was sure that I would find my product here. Little did I know what was in store for me.

Most of the brands had two shaded of foundations. Or maximum four. They start with nude that is pale pink and go up to honey/tan/beige/almond that is light brown. The shades available for dark skin, are no where close to the original color of the skin. They call it a concealer for a reason. It is supposed to hide your scars and make it look as the same color of your skin. The foundation is for having an even skin tone that has the exact shade as that of your neck and body. You then top it up with a compact, that gives you a matte finish and makes you know flawless. Or at least close to it. But none of the concealers or foundation even came close to my skin color. Looks like the Indian obsession with fairness is applicable to the make up brands too. Even though some of these brands are not Indian, they only seem to be catering to the fairness seeking audience.

The Lakme Shade Card: Image Source

When the BB cream came into the market, every beauty shopper went berserk. A cream that helped you hide your imperfections, sounded too good to be true. I was disappointed here as well. The BB creams were very much available, but only in two shades. Nude and Tan. The nude was for white skin and the tan for pale skin, although the package said otherwise. Dark skin needs make up that has shades of orange or dark brown. But none of the BB creams seemed to offer that. When Lakme launched their absolute range and Revlon their photo effect range, I was thrilled to see quite a few shades being available. But sadly none of them matched my skin color. My skin color is a mix of caramel, almond and chocolate. And it tends more towards the browner side. I tried the body shop as well, but their products left me looking grey in color. I was sent a product for review by a leading cosmetic brand. The email asked if I was fair or dark. I said dark. They sent me the product the next day. It was a compact that looked light peach in color. There was no way that would suit my skin. I had to check if the product withstood the heat and sweat and stayed on for 12 hours. Sadly, I couldn't even wear the compact to check it's quality.

The MAC Shade Card: Image Source

Vichy with their derma blend creams showed me good promise. Their derma blend concealer in 'Olive Brown' was perfect for my skin. I topped this up with a transparent powder and it looked really good. Although priced higher, these products were worth it. But Vichy soon stopped these range of products and I was left in the lurch again. I went from store to store and mall to mall in Bangalore trying out make-up brands that catered to women with dusky skin. But found nothing. One fine day I stepped into MAC and it changed my life. Seeing the various shades of concealers there, I went crazy. There were at least ten shades for the dark skin alone. Same with their foundations and their compacts. I tried most of them and then finally found the perfect one for my skin tone. Studio Fix concealer NC42 has been my best friend till date. The concealer is creamy enough and blends well into the skin due to which there is no need to use a foundation. I top it up with a studio fix compact in NW43 and look sorted. The products though expensive are wonderful and I'm so happy that I have finally found a brand that caters to dusky skin.

As much as I love the products, they do come at a steep price. I do wish that reasonable brands like Lakme, Maybelline, Color Bar, L'oreal and Revlon also come up with shades that help the dusky woman. Even though most women are more than happy to wear the wrong shade and look fair, I want something that brings my actual color out. MAC helps me 100%. There are other make up brands like Clinique, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown that have many shades for the dusky woman, but they do come at a heavy price. Although I wouldn't mind paying so much, I cannot help but wish that there was something as good and a little cheaper. Local brands, are you listening?

12 comments:

  1. Don't even get me started on this. I can't imagine why Indian cosmetic companies fail to see the huge market they can tap. I found a good foundation in Maybelline and one in Lakme mousse that blended but after lots of shop hopping! Pain, I tell you.

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    1. I know right? If they made shades for dark skin, they will profit so much. But no, maybe it is against their ethics or some shit like that.

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  2. AWESTRUCK as always after reading your views on being comfortable in your own skin

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  3. As a dark-skinned woman, I empathise with you. I never used to wear makeup in India and only started wearing foundations/concealers about 5 to 7 years ago. Here too brands are limited but there are definitely a few for my skin. Maybelline has been good with their foundations and I found Revlon had some in my skin shade as does Bare Minerals. But when I visited India in 2011, that's when I realised how there was nothing for me...everything was for pale skinned women which I found ridiculous!

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    1. I know!! I have noticed that outside India the same brands carry shades for the dark skinned woman but not here. Ridiculous would be an understatement.

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  4. Wow Soumya though I'm not in love with makeup I am completely in love with how forthright you are about your struggle with finding the perfect products for your skin tone. It's weird how local brands turn a blind eye to something that should is an obvious need for most Indian women.

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    1. I know, right? They'd make twice the money they are making now if they bring out shades for the dark woman too.

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  5. The prejudice with regard to skin colour seems to be everywhere isn't it?
    I so hate this obsession with fairness. Nice post Soumya.

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    1. Oh yeah, here there everywhere it is.

      Thanks Reema.

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  6. Don't even get me started on Health and Glow. They make you feel bad about your skin and your colour! Yes, MAC is good (I'm nc42 too, hi5!) but yes, the cost. It's not just about the right shade; brands like Lakme carry shades that make you look ashy. It stands out and not in a flattering way.

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    1. Hi5 sistah!!

      Oh yeah ashy, that's how I looked at my wedding. How could I forget that?

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