Rose-scented steam, yoghurt face mask, sweet almond oil eye massage

Gentle, Soothing Facial

Glowing skin is a must if you want your make-up to look good. I remember peeping into the mirror when I was twelve and realizing that my skin was dull and patchy. This demanded serious attention but since my parents were pro natural-remedies and "anti-chemicals" as they called it, I was left to use the natural remedies that were passed on for generations in my family. Never mind that my brother nicknamed my concoctions "pigeon shit," the natural face masks I used were very effective in cleansing my skin and giving it a soft glow.

This is one of my favourite at-home facial.

  • First, I steam with a few drops of rose essential oil added to the water. The scent relaxes me while I steam my face.
  • Second, I massage the eye-area and lips gently with sweet almond oil.
  • Third, I spread yogurt, I use low-fat, evenly over my face and avoid the eye-area and lips.
  • Fourth, I put cotton pads dipped in cold milk over my eyes.

I lie down with the mask on for about 15 to 20 minutes and then wash it off with warm water. If there is too much residual almond oil, you can wash it off the targeted area with a gentle cleanser.

Low Fat Rant

Gruelling Miss Indias

I haven’t ranted for a while and I don’t want to pull the wool over your eyes by letting you think I’m a sweet being. I believe that for a 3.5 minute interval on January 10th, 1987 I was a gentle and soft-spoken but that doesn’t really count since I was a toddler then. What am I going on about this time you ask? Well read the following article where the author talks about the way the Miss India pageant is structured.

Let me start off by saying that I am perfectly fine with pageants and while I wouldn't participate in one, I by no means find it demeaning to women. The tone of the article and the opinions of the author aside, I am particularly horrified at the way the women who enter are treated. I don't want to paint them as innocent victims without expectations who were lured by a sheep in wolf's clothing.

A sad trend that I feel is increasingly the case with the Miss India contestants is that they loose any individuality and end up looking alike. True, they are groomed, their food intake is restricted, everything about them is fine-tuned and end up looking like a more acceptable and tasteful version of themselves and we all strive to be "a better version" of our current state. None of these contestants is allowed to embrace their individuality. I know it's not a self-esteem camp where they learn to love their flaws, but in what realm is deciding not to eat anything, including fruits, because everything has calories normal?

What better way to make women feel beautiful than make them painfully aware that they are not comparable to an ideal and attack every part of them that is different? I think they've hit the jackpot, really. I can't wait until someone compliments me with the following: "Oh wow! You've put on weight around your waistline. I'm sure once you are on a strict diet where you eat approximately 400 calories a day your face won't look like a tubby kid's and your waistline will be wasp-like. You'll be so pretty then. But now now though, don't let that idea get into your head. You need to change." Honeyed words.

Now that I'm all on my high horse, let's bring it back to make-up. The article states that the following about the Indian make-up artist Cory Walia:


"As makeup artist Cory Walia explained to the contestants during a session, one must never presuppose that one has knowledge that the expert does not, even if it concerns oneself. 'Do not tell the makeup artist what suits you" he insisted, "that person is a professional - you will end up in tears and you may even get a slap.' "

A personal preference and a level of comfort are what guide us in finding make-up that we feel reflects our personality. Personally, I have a comfort zone that is continually expanding because I find new ways to work with colours and textures. That in turn leads me to try out shades I would have never though of but essentially are an offshoot of my comfort-zone. That bit of soul-baring aside, I certainly would like to think a professional will treat me with respect and not assault me. Although maybe the slap will turn my cheeks red and help me find the perfect shade of blush. That's why he's the professional. I get it.

Miracle Creams?

Clinique All About Eyes, Clinique Advanced Stop Signs Eye SPF 15, Clarins Eye Contour Gel, L'Oreal Eye Defense

A long time ago I was but an idealistic child who imagined that fairies roamed the earth and cosmetic companies told the truth. I believed them when they said that their creams would work miracles on my under-eyes and would lighten and brighten them. Like many other south Asian women, i have dark under-eyes that tend to scream at the world how tired I am if I miss even an hour of sleep. As it is highly unlikely that I will get the exact amount of sleep every night and dream of rosy-cheeked cherubs dancing and laughing, I have long forayed into the world of eye creams.

Clinique All About Eyes
This was my standard eye cream for the past five years. It is very moisturizing, but beware it can easily be too much and your under-eyes will become too greasy and your eye make-up will blend to darken your under-eyes. It does the job of moisturizing well but its claims that it will brighten my under-eyes have yet to be witnessed. I find this to be one of the more moisturizing eye creams that I have tried so far. It doesn't feel like silicone coating my skin and temporarily lulling me into the false pretense I used to have about the highly accurate claims of cosmetics companies. It sinks in very quickly if you apply the right amount, and trust me using more of the product will only make the product go away, not the under-eye woes. It is a great eye cream to start off with if you have never used one before as it is gentle and did not irritate my eyes at all.

Clinique Advanced Stop Signs Eye SPF 15
This is a decent eye cream that contains SPF and a slight iridescence. This is an added plus as it brightens the eye area and stops it from getting darker because of the sun. The cream is also relatively moisturizing but on the whole I wasn't satisfied with the amount of moisture it supplied my under-eyes. It also burned slightly when I accidentally got some product in my eye. I have very sensitive eyes and for a good twenty minutes looked like I was a heroine in a desi soap-opera who was crying because her mother-in-law had just found out that my neighbour's son was blackmailing me with a note I had passed to my friend when I was 17. All in all, not a desirable effect an eye cream should have. I also found that the whitish shimmer didn't do much to optically brighten my under-eyes.

*Both images taken from clinique.com

Clarins Eye Contour Gel
This was one of the first eye creams I tried to lighten my under-eyes. I can still remember the feverish excitement when I tore up the cardboard packaging while exiting the store. It claims to minimize puffiness and dark circles but in the end I really didn't see much difference than before using the cream. It is a light-weight gel that glides on smoothly and sinks in relatively fast. Thankfully it doesn't have the tendency to get as greasy as other eye-creams, and I never felt like my under-eyes were lacking moisture. The gel is very gentle and did not irritate my eyes, even though my eyes are very sensitive. I do feel that any given eye cream could do the same job as this one as I didn't see any noticeable difference in the tone of my under-eyes.

*Image taken from clinique.com

L'oreal Eye Defense
This is a light eye cream that also claims to reduce puffiness and dark circles (do you see a pattern?). It does an adequate job of moisturizing but I would not recommend it if you need extra moisture or have particularly dry under-eyes. In its defense it is gentle enough that it didn't irritate my eyes and is a basic eye cream that will suffice if you are not looking for a miracle. The cream did not miraculously erase my dark circles but it is a good alternative to more expensive eye creams of the same calibre.

*Image taken from L'oreal.com

I would like to add a note here. Fear not! I will add my thoughts on the many, many other eye creams I have tried soon.

Multi-tasking miracle

Castor Oil
Alright, so I know it's been a while but I promise I have a great surprise in store. It's not finished yet but it'll be there soon. Until then my lovelies, all you can do is patiently wait for me to fill the void with my useless chatter. So in lieu of the anxious wait, I have some tips on natural beauty remedies.

One of the great loves of my life is castor oil. I know it's incredibly thick and the smell can put you, and others (I have hard evidence to support this), off but if you don't mind your popularity suffering for a bit you'll discover it's a multi-purpose messiah. I have quite a few uses for it:

  • Before I go to sleep, I pat a little bit on my under-eyes, and rub some on my lashes and eyebrows. It moisturizes my eyes better than any eye cream known to man, won't sting your eyes. On top of that it strengthens your lashes and eyebrows and makes them grow back. Being Indian, I know all about bushy eyebrows, but trust me when I say this has saved me after many a botched eyebrow-shaping incident (considering I first started tweezing my eyebrows in the dark so that my mother couldn't catch me, there have been quite a few incidents like this)
  • Before washing my hair I always massage my scalp and the ends with a few drops of castor oil. You don't need much and it does such a good job of moisturizing my poor traumatized hair that it is the only hair mask I use.
  • Before I sleep I massage my hands and feet with castor oil and put cotton gloves and socks over them. I know at this point you might think I might possibly resemble the monster you thought was under your bed when you were little when i am getting ready for my slumber. However, in the morning I have the softest skin and it really saves my hands and feet in the winter.
  • As a final note, I use it to moisturize everything, my knees, elbows, etc. Any rough skin that I have stands no chance to the miraculous castor oil.

Daring to be bold (in a natural way)

Bobbi Brown Tawny Shimmer Brick & Lip Kit

The word shimmer has been known to give me goosebumps. Not the good kind, but the kind you get when you are about to jump off a plane and you were just informed that your parachute might or might not be working. Not that this has ever happened to me, and I imagine it hasn’t happened to you either, but I think it is a good display of my unadulterated terror of all things that are meant to add shimmer (the Kevyn Aucoin liquid white shimmer called to me simply because it was associated with, well, Kevyn Aucoin). I was seduced by the lip colours in the Bobbi Brown Tawny Shimmer Brick & Lip Kit. None of the colours are outlandish and they amplify my existing lip colours(yes, this is plural because I have two-toned lips). My lips look moist, natural, and slightly deeper in colour. The colours are all very flattering to my skin tone and the lip sheers especially have a very soft texture. The shimmer brick itself gives me a soft glow that I never knew could flatter me. I’m a matte girl in case you haven’t figured it out by now and it is a huge step for me to let shimmer penetrate my personal space let alone touch my face. The shimmer brick can easily be overdone, but with a very light hand it imparts just the right amount of colour and shimmer.

* Image taken from bobbibrowncosmetics.com

L'Oreal Voluminous, CoverGirl Lash Exact

Mascara is a step many desi women often skip. I think every desi woman knows at least one desi woman who puts on multiple eyeshadow along with brow highlight, applies liquid liner painstakingly to create an elongated eye and leaves it at that. No mascara and the lashes tend to look pale compared to the drama of the rest of the eyes. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

One of my favourite mascaras is L’Oreal Voluminous. It gives me a lot of volume (such a shocking revelation judging by the name of the product) and I can layer it up to create a more intense look. If you use a lash comb in conjunction to this, your lashes would look so dramatic they could make a showgirl punch you in the eye for saying all you used to make your lashes so dramatic was mascara. The downside to this product is that it dries up very fast. Replacing mascara every three moths is my golden rule ofhygiene, but this dries up much faster than other mascaras do. I end up replacing it every two months instead of three and by then the mascara is really thick. However, if you can stand to replace your mascara more frequently, this is a great choice for dramatic lashes.

* Image taken from loreal.com

Another really nice mascara is CoverGirl Lash Exact. Its rubber applicator seems to make the mascara clump less and the formula of the mascara itself is a lot thinner than Voluminous. This is a great overall mascara that gives volume and some length. It functions as a basic and dramatic mascara to give you anything from a natural fringe to heavy, sooty lashes.

* Image taken from covergirl.com


Milani Antique Gold

If you’re a fan of natural make-up but you still want to try something with a bit of colour, you might think your demands are contradictory. However, Antique Gold by Milani is a shimmery olive brown with gold shimmer that fits the bill. The colours is rich and saturated and the colour you get when you apply it is not a watered down version of what the eyeshadow is supposed to look like. It’s neutral enough to satisfy the natural-look-loving side of you while adding enough dimension to satisfy the flamboyant exhibitionist wench you know is inside you. So the next time you’re at the drugstore waiting for that prescription you hope they don’t announce so that all and sundry can hear, pick up this gorgeously soft eyeshadow.