“I remember my first time buying foundation as a pre teen – I was 10 and it was for my makeup for a solo Kathak recital. Needless to say, I was heavily disappointed with the shade options at the local makeup counter. I came back with the one generic shade Lakme had to offer at the time. Soon after giving that hopeless shade of foundation a fair go, I decided I’d be staying as far away from foundations as possible.

I entered my teens when the likes of Elle18, Lakme and Revlon were bombarding media with their aggressive advertising. Their propaganda seemed to primarily prey on our nation’s collective complex with our skin colour. I managed getting through most of my 20s without needing to buy or wear any foundation. But fast forward to several years later, as I decided to get into blogging, I realized I’d have to step outside my comfort zone and test the waters to find products that would photograph well. When it comes to makeup, sadly, being dark skinned is still a huge handicap in the Indian cosmetics department.

I’m going to try to be positive here, as a dusky consumer, it fills me with joy when brands like L’Oreal and Maybelline step it up a notch with their range of shades for base makeup. Their availability in stores like Lifestyle and Shoppers Stop means that less and less dark skinned teenage girls will have to go through their puberty looking at the lack of makeup catering to them and longing to look different to fit in! But the happiness and joy I feel when I find the new shade launches is also a sign that the Indian Cosmetics Industry still has a long long way to go. As a dusky girl, I shouldn’t feel any different about makeup than a light skinned girl. I shouldn’t feel ‘lucky’ or ‘blessed’ to find a shade match my beach vacation tan, which I want to show off with pride! And I sure as hell shouldn’t have to pay the extra bucks just cause my shade is only available in the priciest range of my favourite label.

Sales representatives are always trying to push shades that are way too light for me. Whether it’s out of lack of options sent by the brands themselves OR it’s that typical Indian sensibility of trying to look / make everybody else look 3 shades lighter – is debatable! When I wanted to do my own makeup for my engagement and was on the lookout for the perfect shade of foundation and setting powder, I was repeatedly pointed in the direction of shades that would obviously make me look ashy. On asking them for something darker, I was politely told varied versions of “You don’t want to look too dark in photographs!” and “But you aren’t ‘that’ dark”. Ultimately I had to have some shades delivered from overseas. I find myself constantly justifying and expressing my love for my deep skin tone to SAs! Maybe that’s why I’d much rather match my shade online and have them delivered at home. Surprisingly though, I’ve always done a way better job at finding myself a great shade-match online than the help SAs at Indian departmental stores have ever extended my way!

My Favourite Foundations

After years of having tried horribly ashy shades, I’ve finally found a few ones that I can include in my holy grail products! I love Elf Flawless Finish Foundation with SPF 15 in the shade Caramel for most days when I’m leaning towards sheer coverage and L’Oreal True Match Foundation in shade W5 Golden Sand for occasional, more build-able coverage.”

Tanvi is a Fashion & Lifestyle Accessories Designer from National Institute of Fashion Technology. She chronicles her style journey on the blog The Duskess and her Instagram


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