Why Indian Women Do Not Use Makeup


Indian women do not use make up – period! And even when they do, they mostly do a shoddy job of it. If the tiny fraction of the population that haunts high-end malls in our Metros is ignored, as is the dash of kajal or kohl on the eye and/or a hint of something on the lips that most apply and run, I don’t think I’m too much off the mark.

I grew up in the ‘80s watching with fascination as my mother got dressed – either for work or for some social gathering. Today most women are educated, working and “aware”, which was not the scenario in the ‘80s.My mother, however, was all that and much more and to that extent, ahead of her times. Being a Professor of English literature she was well read, very fond of maintaining herself and her house and something of a diva in the small towns of Shimla and Dharamshala  where, my father being in the IAS, was routinely posted. By comparison, I was always a klutz, not bothered in the least about how I looked, what I wore or how I carried myself and this continued way into my 20s. I remember her trying to tell me not to thump up the staircase but to go up gently, daintily placing half my foot on the stair rather than march up army style. All that I could tell her by way of a response was that if I tried to do that, I’d simply tumble back. And therein ended her efforts of making a lady out of me. The reason I’m ranting on about this is to point out that despite not being a typical ‘80s house wife, when it came to make up, my mom drew the line at a lipstick. Not that she didn’t own eye shadows and blushes and foundations. She did. But they all lay neatly stacked in her vanity case. All that she used ever, be it to work or in the evening, was a lipstick. For a social event, she would at times put the good old Lacto Calamine on her face and that was it. I can hardly ever remember her wearing a foundation, except maybe to some family wedding. But even then, nothing too obvious.

Compared to that, times have changed no doubt. Today, it is not an uncommon sight to see many teenaged girls in full-blown make up. Liners and kohls are for school and college. Any social outing, it’s often much more than that. However, when it comes to the women in their 30s and thereafter, I have strangely witnessed a decline. Out of all the women I know personally, whether friends, acquaintances, colleagues or relatives, I can barely think of one or two who bother to wear make-up, complete with the foundation, concealer, liner, lippie, mascara. The amount and intensity varies obviously with the occasion.

As I sat thinking about it I realised that it had little to do with “not attaching too much importance to your looks” kind of attitude. While it is all very well to be at peace with yourself and not go nuts in trying to look picture perfect always, the reasons I realised are much shallower than “inner peace”. These are some that I could decipher. Feel free to add or correct me-

  1. Most women are hard pressed for time. Juggling between household obligations, work, children, the oh-so-recalcitrant shanta bai and the equally demanding husband, they barely have time to even put a sunscreen forget makeup. Taking care of self is pretty low in the list of priorities.
  2.  Make up is still seen as a vanity. Makeup, in the mind of the Indian woman, is for special occasions – parties, family gatherings, weddings. We Indian like not to place a high premier on the body, spiritually evolved creatures that we are! Why pay so much attention to body and looks that don’t last? Talk of spirituality gone wrong! Applying makeup on regular basis, apart from being time consuming, is seen as being vain and too obsessed with your looks and you can expect a few nasty comments to that effect. That this is not vanity but the way you like to carry yourself, is beyond most.
  3. Even in our minds, makeup is not for daily use. We “save” it for special occasions.  While I’m not in favour of heaping on piles daily either, but some coverage, be it in the form of a tinted moisturiser, a BB cream or some foundation and some minutes spent on eyes and lips not only makes you look well groomed, but boosts your spirits and confidence as well.
  4. Since women don’t use makeup often, it follows logically that most women don’t know how to use it. Foundation a few shades lighter than the actual skin tone, caked up face and a bare neck are a common sight. Sadly, except for the high end brands who have well trained SAs, most drugstore brands have SAs who know nothing about application or helping one find the correct shade. Till date, foundations are matched by applying on the arm, eyeliners are applied what seems is an inch above the lash line and blush stands out as it would on the cheeks of a Disney character. And because women, can’t apply it well, they shy away from it. It’s a vicious cycle.
  5. We Indians hoard everything, including makeup. Products may expire lying on the shelf, you may have long outgrown that particular shade or your skin may need something else but we don’t throw them away. We save even makeup for posterity it would seem.

Yes, it is good not to give too much importance to looks, as it is to be calculatedly cool and indifferent. If looking good is to be at the cost of your peace and equanimity, it’s not worth it. But if a few minutes a day can make you look and feel better, why not give yourself a chance?

The Case of the Ugly Pakeezah Feet


Honestly, I’m a sucker for clean, pretty feet- something like the rather famous dialogue of yesteryears from the movie Pakeezah – “Aapke paon dekhe, bahut haseen hain … inhe zameen par mat utaariega … maile ho jayenge (Saw your feet, they are very beautiful … don’t place them on the ground … they will get dirty`)The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the movie ages ago was- “How the hell is this woman supposed to move about if not place her feet on the ground?” And then-“Wah! What a pedicure and what nicely kept feet!”


Unlike this above ode to pretty feet, this picture of my toenails is a rather ghastly one and it is here precisely because of this reason- the ugly, yellow stain marks on the nails. No it’s not henna or some such external reason. Neither is it fungal infection or anything medical. This is what I’ve done to my toe nails in my quest for “Pakeezah” feet (as I call neat, nicely kept feet) that led me to incessantly use nail paints.  And the picture was not even taken in the immediate aftermath of this “nail paint onslaught”. This is a picture taken a month after I had let go off all nail paints.


While cleanliness and hygiene is all very well but these yellow stains happened because I subjected my nails to abuse by keeping them continuously covered with nail paint.Not just any new vibrant colour in the market but any colour at all- I just had to have nail paint on my toenails. They looked, to my mind, a lot better with nail paint on than without. The moment one colour would come off, another would go on, month after month. Yes I took all due “care” and “precautions”- good branded nail paints ( Maybelline, Revlon, Lakme, MAC), none of those road side Rs 30/- stuff ; I used a base coat and Sally Hansen at that; and my nail paint remover too is Sally Hansen fortified with what not. Nothing against any of these brands-the blame rests solely on me. I did not do the one thing that I should have done- let them be, let them breathe specially after a pedicure. Why I did not do that, despite being aware of the possibility of my nails turning yellow? Well I just did not.


And why am I posting all of this along with a rather unsavoury picture? Just to caution anyone who may care that no matter what the product, what the brand, excessive use will cause damage. Lakme has a pretty collection called “Manish Malhotra Metallics” while Revlon has come up with something very tempting called Nail Art Moon Candy. While I would have loved to pick up the latter, the sight of these “un Pakeezah” feet has kept me in check. My advice – no matter what the product or its lavish launch, exercise caution and restraint. This damage is visible. Most of it goes unnoticed. Be kind to yourself, your body and be natural. Lotus Herbals has come up with nail paints as well. How “herbal” those are I don’t know but I am determined to let my toenails breathe back to health. And I hope many of you will do the same as well.








Lakme Pot Pints and Me

Pop tints

Lakme  announced its new collection of nail and lip colour in March this year – something called “Pop Tints”, which incidentally, it seems, are the hottest colours of the season. Whether the hotness is due to the sexy as hell Kareena or the actual product I can’t say as the product is just about hitting the markets. As an aside, I often wonder whether these “brand ambassadors” actually ever use the product they endorse? Though some stuff in the Lakme Absolute Range is pretty good but will Kareena ever use Lakme- basically won’t anything below Chanel, MAC and the like be infra dig for her? Anyways, the point I was coming to is that until few days ago I kept on thinking that this new range was called “pot pints” and I imagined cute little pots with various tints all lined up at the counters. But no, these are called “Pop tints”.

The instigation behind this post is a mail I received a few days back from a sweet lady asking me if I was a beauty blogger and if I was, asking me to be more regular with  my review of beauty products as she liked what I had to say about the few products that I had reviewed on my blog. Well that I kept on calling “Pop tints” “Pot Pints” for a good 2months should show how clued I am to the fashion and beauty scene. So first things first, no I am not a beauty blogger, not by any stretch of imagination. My “review” of the few products that I have done is more in the nature of sharing something that suited me and helped me in my various wanderings in the dark alleys of beauty and make up. That some found it helpful, I’m glad and will try and do a few more in the coming weeks. But that’s the extent of my beauty blogging.Kareena-nail n lips

After this mail however I did have a look at the profile of some of the beauty bloggers and nah..I don’t fit the bill. Typically, they are 20 something and in their own words, obsessed with makeup, beauty and  the like. As for me, not only am I on the wrong side of 30, I have just recently discovered what “tight lining” the eye means and can’t still accomplish the feat without poking myself in the eye.  I have experimented and still do experiment with various beauty and skin and hair care products but my knowledge base is nowhere near that of these consummate beauty bloggers. As for the hottest colours or trends of the season- neither do I know, nor do I care- never have. I wear whatever I want to – this whole “in” colour or trend thing never made any sense to me. So, pops aside, white and pink have always been my favourites for the summers and continue to be so. Which is not to say that I don’t like pops- ever since Govinda popularised them in the ‘90s and long before big brands and celebrities made them huge, I’ve loved them.

Other than Pops,  the other happening thing on the beauty scene that I’m aware of apparently are the “crayons” that are being launched by practically every brand. No not the crayons children use but something for the lips – Clinique Chubby Sticks and their poor country cousins, Revlon Just Bitten Balm Stains and finally Lakme Pop tint crayons. Of course if your child mistakes it for one of his crayons and uses it to colour instead, you can’t blame the poor kid- they all look alarmingly like the traditional crayons. Talk about fancy deceptive packaging! And if you haven’t bought any of these already, don’t bother- Revlon it seems is sold out almost everywhere and Lakme is on its way to same fate as well! Already, you ask? Yup!! That’s beauty and fashion – no place for slow movers like me.

While I do admire all the hard work that goes into beauty blogging, (yes it is hard work- try not only keeping up to date with all the latest launches but also reviewing them with the tiniest of details and best of pictures and you’ll know what I’m talking about) and the good it has done to customers helping them make informed choices, I often wonder whether we are not getting too obsessed with what I’m calling “physical beauty” for want of a better term. No there is no harm in looking good- quite to the contrary I think everyone, women specially, owe it to themselves to look good, not for anyone else but for themselves. But where does one draw the line? When I see school going girls with kajals and kohls, I feel sad. Sunscreen- sure. Deodorant- definitely. But girls barely in their teens with done up eyes and at least a BB cream if not a full fledged foundation? Is there something wrong with me that I think it’s amiss or is there something drastically wrong with the world? I’m not advocating going to school with oiled hair and 2 braids like I did (!!) but what happened to the age of innocence? When did we allow style, fashion and brands creep in so early into our lives? Anyone who has seen the Hindi movie “Student of the Year” will know what I’m talking about. Is that really supposed to be a school? Even if it was shown to be a college, I’d lump it…but school? Really??

I don’t have a daughter. If I did, what would I tell her? Would I let her be fashion, beauty and style conscious in her teens? Or would that be yet another battle front in the mother-daughter relationship? And more importantly, what would be the right thing to do? Peer pressure is not an easy thing to stand up to even at our age let alone the already troublesome teens. How often we have ourselves succumbed to external pressure of looking a particular way or carrying a particular brand? Would it even be fair to not allow a teenage girl to tow the line of her peers? Yes there are more serious questions that Lakme’s Pot Pints has thrown at me than I was ready for. Answers, however, are not as forthcoming.