Electric Youth by Meena Khan

rsz_finished_productWHAT DOES NEON MEAN TO ME?


The word evokes images of endless nights of studying during which I highlighted hundreds of pages of text and stained my fingers with ink.

I fondly recall spending (read: wasting) four 1988 dollars (today it would be $12) on a pair of dangling chain earrings in which black and hot pink links were intermingled  to create an eye-catching look that made me feel like I was 14 rather than 12.

Neon was never a word that I associated with my personal makeup palette because I could not fathom wearing bright shades that  evoked images of highlighters, and then I recently asked, “Why neot?”

Neon colours are bright but their otherworldly, space-like quality, are no more or less strange to wear than deep jewel tones, which possess a deep cave like quality.

I decided to explore neon shades, and in the course of my research I rediscovered my electric youth.


Neon’s extreme brightness suggests that no balance can be achieved because when you apply a neon shade, it will look clownish.  I posit that neon shades, like more traditional ones, work well with the following makeup combinations as explained by the late, great Kevyn Aucoin is his book The Art of Makeup (Callaway Editions Inc, 1994 at pages 58-59): dark eyes – dark mouth and dark eyes – light mouth.

Aucoin explained  that the dark eyes – dark mouthy combination as being, :”… stronger, “European” look, which probably works better at night than during the day.”  He followed this look by defining the dark eyes- light mouth look as, “… the most sophisticated.  Though the eyes are the same as they were for the previous look, the lipstick is now a pale shade…”


Neon makeup has enjoyed several iterations since it was popularised in the eighties when it was often employed as bright pink or orange lipstick.  The modern textures and finishes permit the brightness to bloom through the products without looking chunky or garish.

Consequently, technology, and my desire to rediscover my electric youth inspired me to explore neon beauty, and I am delighted to report that when I now think of neon, I think vavoom, rather than highlighter.


Each season commands that complexions obey a certain finish, for example it should be matte for fall and dewy for spring.  Neon is so bright that the focus should be on creating a soft, uniform base that does not compete with the brightness of the makeup, regardless of the season.  I prefer to use light liquids to perfect my complexion because the finish is softer and natural.

To achieve the soft look that serves as a soft canvass for the bright makeup, I recommend using a glow base such as Clarins Milky Boost, described as a skin perfecting milk.

Clarins mi8lky boost
Clarins Milky Boost. Photo Credit: http://www.clarins.ca

When you put a drop on your palm it is milky white and then as you massage it into the face, the product adjusts to enhance your skin tone.  In my case, the white liquid  turned into a Milky Cashew (5 shades available), and immediately minimised the unevenness on my face.

Perfecting the complexion

From left to right: My complexion without makeup, applying the Milky Boost and my complexion with the Milky Boost blended in

It is important to address dark circles because they will distract and diminish the brightness of neon makeup.  Again, I strictly rely on a liquid concealer to perfect the eye area.  My personal favourite is Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Liquid Concealer (20 shades available) because it is a perfect balance between peach (to neutralise the discolouration) and colour (to blend with the face).

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Liquid Concealer. Photo Credit: http://www.charlottetilbury.com

After I dab some in my trouble spots, I tap the product into the skin until it is blended.

Applying concealer

From keft to right: O apply concealer and my complexion after it is blended in.

I like to set the my eye contour area with a brightening powder such as Guerlain Les Meteorites in Medium (4 intensities available).

Guerlain meteorites

Guerlain Les Meteorites. Photo Credit: http://www.guerlain.com

I used a medium-sized powder brush and then pass it  once over the pearls. After, I dab it in the contour of my eyes and around the mouth; two areas which for which I require a touch of brightness, in addition to concealing.

Applying powder

Top to bottom: I apply powder to my eye contour and my complexion after the powder has been applied to discoloured areas.


I will not employ a neon look frequently enough to justify purchasing a palette but it is so lively and refreshing, that I keep a few shades on hand when I want to look electric.

It is easier and effective to keep the eye look simple, and I love Shiseido Kajal Ink Artist in Sumi Sky which is a striking ocean blue, worthy of a Miami Vice close-up.

Shiseido sumo

Shiseido Kajal Ink Artist in Sumi Sky. Photo Credit: http://www.shiseido.com

It glides on like silk, sets quickly, and lasts eight hours.  The colour is quite punchy (think blueberry-flavoured Freezie), so I apply a dot to the centre of my mobile lid, and then using the sponge tip which you detach from the other end, I diffuse the dot so that I create a blue cloud on the area.  If I want a more dramatic look, I repeat the step.

I curl my eyelashes and define upper and lower lash lines with a thin black line.  Remember that the theatricality of the look does not lie in creative lines, rather it lies in your choice of colour.  I continue the definition by using a lengthening, separating, mascara that opens the eyes, so that the whites contrast against the ocean blue.  I love the L’Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara, because the densely packed teeth on the applicator deliver mascara to each lash and lift the eye.

L'Oreal mascara

L’Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara. Photo Credit: http://www.lorealparis.ca


Applying eye mmakeup

From left to right: I apply the Sumo Sky to the centre of mobile lid, I blend it with the sponge tip applicator, I curl my lashes, rim my eyes with black liner and then apply mascara.

I then apply a deep shade of lipstick that possesses a sharp and modern edge such as Le Rouge Givenchy Lipstick in Prune.   I note that it is no longer available but an excellent alternative is Violet Audacieux.

Givenchy Lipstick

Le Rouge Givenchy Lipstick in Violet Audacieux Photo Credit: http://www.givenchybeauty.com

Blush is my final step because I want to assess how much is required between the strong eyes and mouth.  I apply blush with inverse intensity,  so that my face will to be overwhelmed with colour.

I use a cool, delicate blush such as Givenchy Prisme Blush in Romantica.  It is a gorgeous duo of baby pink and mauve.

Givenchy Blush

Givenchy Prisme Blush in Romantica. Photo Credit: http://www.givenchybeauty.com

I twirl the bevel-headed brush on both shades and then apply it to the apples of my cheeks.

Finished product

I apply the lipstick and blush et voila – Electric Finish!

                DARK EYES – LIGHT MOUTH

The dark eyes – light mouth combination within the neon context works with gradation of colour in which intensity replaces darkness to deliver the impact.

For the eyes, I love the Shiseido Kajal Ink Artist in Lilac Lotus which resembles an electric orchid.  The pink is cool-toned and striking against my dark eyes.

Lilac Lotus

Shiseido Kajal ink Artist in Lilac Lotus Photo Credit: http://www.shiseido.com

The pink is not dark, so I like to draw an unabashed thick line along my upper lash line, and then quickly tap it using the sponge tip so that the pigment smokes the crease.  I then define my upper and lower lash line with a medium violet liner such as Givenchy Khôl Couture Waterproof in Iris.

Givenchy Liner

Givenchy Khôl Couture Waterproof in Iris Photo Credit: http://www.givenchybeauty.com

The two cool-toned eye products are different in terms of colour but are unmistakably related which creates a cool-tone pink gradation of pink.  I finish the eye area by lengthening and separating the eyelashes using the L’Oreal Bambi Eye Mascara.

Again, I proceed directly to the lips, where I juxtapose shades and textures to create a pouty mouth that hints at neon naughtiness.  I love the L’Oréal Infallible Matte Lip Crayon in Sweet & Salty, because the bevel head delivers the perfect amount of matte pigment to my lips.

L'Oreal sweet and salty

L’Oréal Infallible Matte Lip Crayon in Sweet & Salty. Photo Credit: http://www.lorealparis.ca

The Sweety & Salty shade is a deep, pink lemonade shade whose warmth clashes with the eyes in terms of tone.  However the colour is calm, like a rubber shelter in the midst of an electric storm, and sets the stage for neon naughtiness.

I dab L’Oréal Rouge Signature Lipstick in I Savor, a bright, bubblegum pink at centre of my lips.  I smack my lips together, and my lips look fuller, as there is gradation of pink from the corners to the centre of the lips.  The peak of the intensity is at cupid’s bow where the neon touch lifts the area from light to luminous.

L'Oreal I Savor

L’Oréal Rouge Signature Lipstick in I Savor. Photo Credit: http://www.lorealparis.ca

I again use the Romantica blush but dab an extra bit of the baby pink powder to enhance the pink nature of the look.


I admit that in my bid to be sophisticated, I forgot the first rule of makeup which is creativity.  Neon colours are bright but their ability to beautify is no less mighty than that of neutrals or jewel tones. The brightness adds fun and vivaciousness to your beauty look, and it is certainly worth it to buy a few neon shades, and reclaim your electric youth.


Choco-hot Lips by Meena Khan

Brown lips in theory sound like a great idea because who does not want them to resemble the best treat in the world?  In reality, we start the day with choco-hot lips and by midday they look like faded bacon bits. Unfortunately,  short of reapplying lip liner, lipstick and gloss, there is no way to maintain the lip look that was applied at 8 am to last until 5 pm.

This blog explores the root causes of bacon bit lips; how to choose the best lip liner and lip shades; and my tips to create three dimensional lips that are luscious.


Brown lipstick, unlike other shades, possesses an inherent risk of making South Asian beauties look sallow because  there is seldom enough contrast between the lip shade and the surrounding skin.  By contrast, I mean not only the shade of the lipstick but its texture and the accompanying lip liner.

I have worn brown lipstick that was either too dark and drained my complexion, or too milk chocolate thus fading my lips.  Further, I applied lipstick that was either matte which created the illusion that they lacked dimension, or satin, which faded with the first sip of a cappuccino.

Additionally, I tend to use a neutral liner for all of my lipsticks which results in the richness of the lipstick’s pigment being diluted.  A neutral liner is adequate but if you want full on brown lips that celebrate South Asian beauty, a brown liner helps to maintain a tint of brown during meals and brings the richness of sepia sexiness to the fore.


Brown, like red and pink, comes in a variety of hues, and not all of them flatter South Asian skin tones.  To avoid recreating the emo look of the nineties, I suggest veering towards liners and lipsticks that are warm, i.e. the shades possess hints of gold and red.  Our skin tones tend to be warmer and when beautified with like cosmetics, the overall look is harmonious, rather than imbalanced.  Remember, when opting for cooler tones, that choice contrasts the differences between the skin and lips rather than highlighting natural assets.  As a result of the contrast, you may apply extra makeup elsewhere on the face, e.g. extra bronzer, to compensate, thus creating an imbalanced look.

Bearing the test of warmth in mind, I am delighted to have discovered five lip products that flatter the rainbow that is South Asian beauty:

Foxy Brown

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown. Image from http://www.charlottetilbury.com


Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Hollywood Honey. Image from http://www.charlottetilbury.com


Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy in Peerless. Image from http://www.esteelauder.ca

  • Burt’s Bees Matte Stick in Liquid Honey, a 100% natural product that is made of jojoba, Cupuacu, cocoa butter and kokum which leaves a matte finish without flattening the dimension of the lips. Liquid Honey perfectly describes this deep amber shade that imparts warmth and sophistication in one swipe; and

Burt’s Bee’s Matte Stick in Liquid Honey. Image from http://www.burtsbees.ca

  • Shiseido Crystal Gloss, a miraculous clear lip product that adds shine and dimension to the lips without the tackiness that traps an errant hair and leaves tell-tale streaks of coloured gloss on the cheeks. I love dabbing the beveled tip on the centre of my lips, as it adds instant shine and dimension, without smearing the lip liner and lipstick.
Shiseido Clear Gloss

Shiseido Crystal Gloss. Image from http://www.shiseido.ca


Brown lipstick, in theory, should not be applied any differently than red lipstick but given its potential to create a sallow look, certain steps must be executed judiciously:

  1. The key is hydration by applying a waxy lip balm that adds moisture withou the slickness. If the lips are dry, and you apply lipstick, you have take the first step to start the day with bacon bit lips. A hydrated base plumps tiny crevices in the lips, that sets the stage for choco-hot lips;
Hydrated Lips

My freshly hydrated lips. Image is mine.

2. I ensure that all of my discolouration around my lips is covered because I do not want the area between my nose and chin to take on a camouflage pattern, where there are three shades of brown competing for attention, i.e. lipstick vs. skin vs. discoloration. Brown is an urbane colour, and I want my skin to be a canvass for its beauty. I dab a liquid concealer on my trouble spots and then blend it in using a flat, large, duckbilled foundation brush.  Please note that once my makeup is done, I dab the area with a  translucent setting powder.


Concealing discolouration. Image is mine.

3.I love using a brown liner, such as Hollywood Honey, when I apply a brown lipstick, so that I bring out the power of the colour and create a lasting tinted base for the full day. I make sure to start from the corner of the lip and then trace a light line to the centre.  I repeat this exercise four times, so that each quadrant is properly defined.  The corners are imperative because if they are neglected, you risk creating a fish mouth.

Lip Liner

Lining my lips. Image is mine.

4. To avoid the hyper dramatic lip liner look that defined the regretful beauty looks of the eighties and the early aughts, I purse my lips together and then massage them. The goal is to smudge the liner so that it tints the full set of lips and to soften the outline so that it does not look harsh;

Pursed Lips

Pursing my lips. Image is mine.

5. I like to apply lipstick directly from the tube to the lips because it is convenient and the full force of the pigment is delivered.


6. I dab clear gloss at the centre of my lips to make them look poutier and fuller.


Applying gloss. Image is mine.

7. I maintain my lip look applying my lipstick where it is faded and then dab the clear gloss at the centre of the lips. I do not need to reapply liner because I set the pigment when I pursed my lips together.

Final Look

Final Look of the Lips. Image is mine.


Our brown skin is the perfect canvass for brown lips.  We can avoid sallowness by selecting warm, reddish browns that enhance our natural skin tones.  When these products are applied correctly, you only need to dab the lip stick and lip gloss at different points during the day to maintain the look of choco-hot lips.

In the midst of winter, warm clothes are enhanced by warm thoughts and warm thoughts are triggered by images of hot chocolate.  Brown lips are the perfect enzyme for the warm though reaction.


Sleek Style by Meena Khan


As a child I resented my stick straight hair which had a slippery texture. I yearned to have a perm and run around the house with billowing curls.   My mum shared my desire for curly hair, and we invested in two curling irons to achieve the dream… and we always ended up looking like sad puppies with frizzy ends.

Sleek Style - Meena and mum - Photo Credit: Zubair Khan

Sleek Style – Meena, little brother and mum – Photo Credit: Zubair Khan

As a teenager, my hair texture changed from straight to wavy, and lo-and-behold, the stick straight locks made famous by Cher in the seventies came roaring back. My once slippery hair, had a definite kink in its shaft.  I scrambled to find products and tools to help me achieve shiny, straight hair that looked slippery.

Meena grad

Sleek Style – Meena at grad at McGill in 2002 – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

The irony was not lost on me but I was more concerned with not burning my hair with the straightening iron.  I discovered Phytodéfisant Botanical Straightening Balm (“Phtyo”) courtesy of Allure Magazine, and armed with my Babyiss iron, I proceeded to conquer my waves like a queen.


Sleek Style – Phytodefrisant Botanical Straightening Balm – Photo Credit: phyto.com

After several years of equating “getting dressed up” with stick straight hair, I dropped the look and just settled for a great blow dry.  Then, over the past two months, I noticed a lot of sleek, straight hair in magazines and websites, and realised that the wheel has spun 180° yet again.


I looked at old photographs of myself from the nineties and the early aughts and noted that my hair, despite my simple straightening methods remained shiny. However with age, my hair, although strong, needs a little extra work to get shiny and straight.  It is more porous and requires TLC whilst creating a style.  I still have the “it hair” factor but it is no longer the result of merely rolling out of bed and styling, rather it is the result of a thoughtful process designed to preserve my locks.

To gain the shiny locks of the nineties, I now break the process into three steps: preparation; straightening; and damage control.


Heat damages the shaft of hair, by roughing up the cuticle which creates a coarse texture and gives rise to flyways. Heat is also necessary for straight styling and the best way to minimise damage is to create a hydrated base.

The first step is to select a shampoo and conditioner that hydrate, and do not strip the hair with an ingredient called sodium laurel sulphate. Sodium laurel sulphate is what makes shampoos create bubbles and foam.  Undoubtedly, bubbles and foam make the process of hair cleaning fun but they are not necessary to achieve softly cleansed locks.  Note, that even if you have oily or stringy hair, hydrated hair is essential because heat damages all hair types.

My current favourites are Kérastase Aura Botanica Bain Micellaire Riche which contains the oil of the Brasil nut, and its matching conditioner Aura Botanica Soin Fondamental which contains Samoan coconut oil.


Sleek Style – Kerastase Aura Botanica Collection – Photo Credit: kerastase.ca

Jolene Hart in her book Eat Pretty Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 2014 (at pages 50 and 86) explains that Brasil nuts and coconuts both contain selenium, a trace mineral that maintains a healthy scalp.

I appreciate that the Bain Miscellaire literally caresses each strand of hair and rinses out softly.

The Soin Fondamental is creamy, and I like how I can gently massage it in, allow it soak for 5 minutes and then when I rinse it out, there is minimal effort required.  The products depart the hair easily and the scent is practically non-existent, so the whole process of cleansing and conditioning is quicker and less irritating.

The trick for a successful cleansing process is to apply the Bain Miscellaire a few centimentres away from the roots, and then massage the scalp using a circular motion. Massaging not only stimulates blood flow, it also lets the product reach the root without covering it in product.  A scalp that can breathe better enables the hair to grow in healthy and adds a slight lift at the roots.

The next step is rinse the hair until the water comes cleans. I like to stand under the showerhead and shake my hair, gently lifting it from the roots so that the water can pass over scalp and the full shaft of each strand.  I am careful to not pull the hair because when it is wet, it is prone to breakage.  Afterwards, I apply to the Soin Fondamental from the mid-shaft to the tips, which is the older, more porous part of the hair.  I repeat the rinsing technique and lightly squeeze my mane to remove the excess.


A classic error in this styling technique is to briefly towel dry the hair, apply heat protectant and then dry the hair on full blast heat. The rushed method produces a mane of straw that has no waviness but it also lacks shininess and softness.

The first step is to press the towel against the hair, and then tuck it (without an elastic band) into a quick dry towel for 20 minutes.  A quick dry towel such as Hair Crown, is more absorbent than the conventional towel, and  shortens the amount of time you spend under the blow-dryer.   My hair is medium length and quite thick so I had my doubts about the efficacy of this product.

Meena in towel 1

Sleek Style – Meena wearing the Hair Crown – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

When I first put it on I felt like a 50’s housewife who puttered around the house while her hair set.  I did a host of tasks and was impressed that the water did not drip down the back of my neck and it did not get heavy as it absorbed more water.   After 20 minutes I removed it and was pleased to note that my hair was more extremely damp than outright wet.  I note that since I have started to use this towel that my blow-drying time has been reduced from 15 to 10 minutes.


Prior to blow-drying, it is important to apply a protective layer, so that the heat’s intensity is minimised. I looked at the Phyto and for a nano-second I was transported back to my 20 year old self getting ready to go to the clubs.   I recall feeling like a sophisticated young lady who was aware of a French beauty secret that flew right over the heads of my fellow club goers.

I squeeze out a loonie’s worth on the palm of my left hand, rub it with my right one, and then massage my hands throughout my hair. I add a bit more on the tips, because this part of the hair is the oldest, and tends to fray, highlighting its age and split ends.

Phyto on my hand

Sleek Style – Meena with Phyto on her palm – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

What I love about Phyto is that its jelly texture is lightweight and I do not feel weighed down. It is rapidly absorbed by the hair so there is no greasiness.  In summer when my scalp get sweatier, Phyto’s lightweight jelly nature is ideal.


The next step is to set up the hairdryer. The T3 line of hairdryers is simply wonderful.  The large models (I have the original one) are lightweight but they pack so much power!  I am always amazed by how, even after 5 years of regular use I can almost hear horses running in the distance when I turn it on.  The nozzle is essential to direct the heat and it produces very sleek results in a matter of minutes.  For the first round of drying I use full power and then for the finishing touch, I use the medium setting.

Once Phyto is worked throughout the mane, I gently grab the top two thirds of my hair and tie a loose top knot.

Meena top knot

Sleek Style – Meena with a top knot – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

I then divide the free hair into two sections.  I lift one section  with the amazing Kérastase Pure Bristle brush.  It is amazing because the bristles measure slightly over 2 cm in length, and they are strong enough to lift desi locks but gentle enough to not break it.  The handle is firm but its smooth surface means that even as I work the brush through each section of my hair, my hands will not hurt.


Sleek Style – Kerastase Pure Bristle Brush – Photo Credit: kerastase.ca

Once I lift one section away from the neck, I then pull it taut downwards, and direct the nozzle in the same direction. The key is to ensure that the cuticles are blow-dried downwards to ensure the sleek look.  I repeat this method for every section of hair that I blow dry.

Once I finish a section, I use a flat duck-billed clip (available at any pharmacy) to attach it and put it to the side. The clips must be flat so that it will not create any ridges in the freshly-straightened hair.  The clips ensure that the hair will remain separate from the upcoming wet sections.

Meena hair ins ection and duck bill

Sleek Style – Meena with a top knot and duck bill clip – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

The trick is that when the bottom third is finished, the second third needs to be released from the top knot. The hair will be blow-dried but instead of adding new duck bill clips, just add more freshly-dried hair to the ones in use.  The idea is to avoid having ahead full of clips which will make the top third of hair drying quite difficult.

I must admit that by the time I get the final third of hair, my arms are tired (and this is just after 8 minutes of blow-drying!) so I focus on drying the roots and lightly drying the rest of the shaft.

The shaft is not perfectly dry but the heat from the layers underneath help to evaporate the top part of the hair. I also prefer to switch to the medium  setting so that the top layer does not look hyper-styled and the reduced intensity of heat means less flyways.


To ensure that I achieve a sleek finish without using an iron, I take dollop of the Shu Uemura Art of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Taming Overnight Serum and work it through my hair from root to tip.  This product is a sweet smelling product that adds incredible body to the hair.


Sleek Style – Shu Uemura Art of hair Essence Absolue Niurishing Taming Overnight Serum – Photo Credit: shuuemurartofhair-usa.com

I am amazed by how my hair feels soft and silky without the greasiness of silicone-based products of the90’s.  It kills frizz without sacrificing the sleekness of straightened hair.

Meena sleek hair

Sleek Style – Meena with sleek, straight hair – Photo Credit: Meena Khan

                NO IRON PLEASE, JUST GLORY

In the nineties I would have reached for a straightening iron after my blow-dry. I also always had a bit of frizziness because my tools were not as efficient or effective as the ones I use today.  The above steps create sleek, straight look with a hint of volume, so that you are on trend, not the victim of a trend.

The main points for achieving the Straight Shooter Look are:

  1. preparation is key, and the focus should be on using gentle cleansing products that do not strip the hair of its natural oils;
  2. try to minimise the need for a blow-dryer by using a specialised towel as heat causes hair damage;
  3. given the warmer weather a jelly-like protectant’s texture is more suitable because it will not weight down the roots;
  4. a good quality blow-dryer and hairbrush are essential to a successful styling session and will allow you to skip the straightening iron;
  5. a finishing product that has a lightweight texture ensures a finished, sleek look.







Not Aging, Just Proceeding to Hotness (Part 2 of 2) by Meena Khan

Part 2 of 2 of my series: “Not Aging, Just Proceeding to Hotness” focuses on the neck up, i.e. skincare tweaks and make-up.

I am not enthused by the idea of using injectibles because I have not come across longitudinal or long-term studies that conclude that the impact of muscle toxins such as Botox or fillers such as Restylane® are harmless, or at least impact neutral on the body.  The lack of comfort breeds in me a fear that in my bid to look great, I might sacrifice comfort and health in the long term.

You might answer that if there was harm the government would stop its use.  To which I respond, if Botox, which is a toxin that causes botulism, was found to be completely safe, somehow I think it would be spun into the marketing campaign.   I was aghast to learn that Health Canada does not re gulate cosmetics as much as some companies and there are ingredients and practises that are banned in the EU but are available in Canada.

I am also wary of looking like someone who has had procedures done to look younger.  Injectibles, like plastic surgery, is a melding of science and art, and just because someone has a license to practise medicine does not mean that they should mold people’s faces.  Further, there are some jurisdictions where people without medical training can apply injectibles… no thanks!  If there is skin piercing and injectibles involved, I always want a medical professional who is trained to handle allergic reactions or medical emergencies.

The uncertainty that I feel towards these anti-aging approaches drives me to eat better,   and to wear sunscreen daily, even when there is a blizzard.  The latter habit has literally saved my skin but like many women who are 40+, I am conscious of looking older.  I have made key tweaks in my skin care routine   and have adopted interesting, impactful  approaches that are easy to integrate into any routine.

Regarding make-up, I have discovered products that leave me glowing and conclude that sometimes simple techniques produce the best results.


The one theme that I embrace is that what I do to my face, I do to my neck.  The neck’s skin is even thinner than that of the face.  The constant leaning over on screens  can result in neck rings, which is aging.   It is imperative that when you apply your serum and cream, that you take the products  and gently massage the neck using gentle upward strokes.  The skin on the neck also needs TLC like the cheeks and the forehead.

At night, I have started to use Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, the legendary serum, which is designed to help the skin to renew itself while you sleep.  I must say that after five weeks of nightly usage that my skin looks smoother and firmer.


Photo Credit: Estee Lauder Canada

More importantly, it helped me to repair a pimple that I foolishly decided to pop.  The end result was a red painful bump with the gunk partially ejected.  I had a lovely scar which usually takes a couple of months to clear (the downside of having darker skin!).  I was thrilled to notice that after three weeks, the scar went from bump, to flat red dot and after 2 more weeks, it is a fading!   Adding a powerhouse serum to your nightly ritual will help to improve the appearance and quality of the skin.

Another twist on the use of serum  and  cream that I appreciate is Dior’s mix and match approach with its Capture Youth Age-Delay Advanced Creme (“Creme”) which can be enhanced by adding in drops of a serum which addresses your skin care concern.

Dior Creme.jpg

Photo Credit: Christian Dior, Canada

For example, as we leave Old Man Winter melting in the streets, my complexion is quite bland.  With Dior’s approach, when I apply the Creme in the morning, I add a few drops of the Capture Youth Glow Booster.  My face and neck gleam with freshness!  If my skin is feeling dry and looks parched, I will add in the Age-Delay Plumping Serum to give my face and neck a fuller look.

Dior Glow

Photo Credit: Christian Dior, Canada

When I create my mixture, I feel like I am in a French apothecary and it is empowering to know that I can alter the mix depending on my skin and the weather.

The uncomfortable truth about aging is that the face and neck do not age evenly, and some parts start to show the effects of Father Time too soon.  For me, the nasal labial folds, kindly referred to as smile lines, are my Achilles’ heel.  I have noticed that those lines, although not plainly visible, have  started to leave a scant trace.  Frankly, that scant trace is a scant too much, and I am thrilled to use Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro Instant Wrinkle Filler Tri-Polymer Blend.

EL Line

Photo Credit: Estee Lauder Canada

The name is a mouthful but its impact is tenfold on fine lines.  The white, odourless gel comes in a applicator tube with a refined tip.  It fits perfectly against my lines and the slightest squeeze emits the perfect amount.  After tracing the tip down the length of the line, I used my left ringer (which has the least pressure) to tap it into the skin.  The gel sets to a colourless finish and when I apply make-up on top, the surface looks smooth and I feel confident!

Skincare is a crapshoot and I strongly recommend that you obtain samples before investing in a full size jar or tube.  There is nothing worse than being conscious of the signs of aging and battling redness!  The key to being successful is consistent usage, i.e. daily or nightly, and give it five or six weeks to see the full effect.  These products complement the regime of a healthy lifestyle, other steps in skincare, and sunscreen usage.  As I walk towards the ages I want to look like the optimised version of myself which has been achieved through methods and practises that I trust.


I have seen countless women who look great from afar but as you approach them, the false lashes, over-processed hair, overdone lips and hip clothes reveal that these women want to look young.  The common denominator with all of these women is that they lack the youthful glow which is a combination of a healthy lifestyle, good health and a positive attitude.  It is incredibly hard to recreate the youthful glow with just make-up but overdone make-up will dim the glow you possess.

The guiding adjective when selecting products and applying them is glow, even if you have normal-to-oily skin.

It is important to have a strong base which allows make-up to remain atop the skin and prevent it from sinking into the lines.  For formal events, I love Stila One Step Illuminate Skin Tone Illuminating Primer.

Stila Illuminate

Photo Credit: Overcat Communications

The primer is a combination of shimmery peach, pale pink and champagne, and initially my olive skin balked.  I feared that I would look like I was suffering from attah syndrome but when I put it on, I was stunned at how my complexion looked elevated.  It went from blah to fresh in a few softly blended strokes.  I then spot applied Givenchy Photo’Perfexion Fluid Foundation and was amazed at how this lightweight liquid melted into the skin and made my unevenness indiscernible.



The combination created a lasting glow.

On the weekends, I prefer the “Easy Sunday Look”, where I look put together in a casual way without a heavy time investment.   If my complexion is somewhat sallow, I will apply the Stila Primer, otherwise I forego this step, and proceed to apply Charlotte Tilbury Unisex Healthy Glow.

CT Glow

Photo Credit: Faulhaber Communications

It is a lightweight, white cream that literally adjusts to your skin tone, fills-in tiny crevices, and leaves your complexion with a  sun-bisou!  It is fascinating to watch how this white product turns a healthy shade of light brown that suits my skin,  olive undertone and all!  After rubbing it in, I am ready for concealer.

Concealer is tricky because many South Asian women have dark circles which can be prominent even if you sleep for 8 hours straight on heated 800 thread count sheets.  The trick is to cover this area without drawing attention to the fine lines.  I love Nars because it has shade that suit my skin tone, are lightweight and effective.  The key is to tap on a  corrector, and the Soft Matte Complete Concealer is fantastic.  It is soft to the touch, easy to build in light layers and sets almost immediately.

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer Concealer Biscuit - jpeg

Photo Credit: Shiseido Canada

Afterwards, I tap on the Laura Mercier Candleglow Concealer and Highlighter, which adds coverage and glow to the darkest part of my face.

LM Concealer

Photo Credit: Shiseido Canada

This concealer can be used alone as the colour is quite rich but if your circles are intense like mine, the two steps are necessary.  I like using my (clean) left ring finger because its heat ensures that the products meld to the skin, and the tapping motion does not stress the delicate skin.

I set my concealer with a light touch of the Laura Mercier Candleglow Sheer Perfecting Powder.


Photo Credit: Shiseido Canada

The particles feel like soft silk and they never settle into my lines.  The sheerness of the powder means that my skin glows and if there is greasy spot, I tap some on so that I glow all over.  No one needs  to glisten!

A glowing complexion means that the rest of the make-up can be light and fresh, just like the way we looked at the age of 17 after partying on Crescent until 3 am, eating poutine until 4:30 am, then heading home to sleep for 5 am, only to get up at 10 am to work at the store… I always glowed and never thought that the day would come that I would no longer heal like the Wolverine®.

Now, I rely on curling my lashes, applying an eyelid primer, and then applying  a black liner such as Charlotte Tilbury Feline Flick.

CT Feline Flick shopNordstrom RZ

Photo Credit: shop.nordstrom.ca

It looks like a calligraphy pen and glides on like butter.  Its pointy tip ensures that the liner can get into the lashes and create the illusion of thickness without the heaviness of false lashes.  It defines beautifully and stays all day.

The next step is to use the curling mascara such as the amazing Diorshow Overcurl Iconic Mascara.

Dior iconic

Photo Credit: http://www.dior.com

The curling mascara preserves the curl achieved with the curler and adds a few millimetres to the wide-eyed look.  The bristles on the brush are dense but they coat and separate each lash perfectly.  On days when I want my eyes to pop, I also apply mascara to the bottom lashes.

The cheeks are key because they occupy the middle third of the face and the cheeks communicate our hidden emotions.  For example, cheeks tend to flush crimson when you are standing next to your office crush who turns around and compliments you on a good presentation.   Consequently when selecting a blush, I prefer cream ones which settle to a powder finish.  Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick in Las Salinas is an excellent example of a cream-to-powder blush.


Photo Credit: charlottetilbury.com

It is a fresh pink lemonade shade that suits all South Asian skin tones.  Its freshness and blendability will make this product your Sunday through Saturday best friend.  I like to dab the stick on the highest point of my cheeks and then blend it out to the hairline at the temps using my fingertips.  As with concealer, I find that the creamier textures adhere better when the warmth of fingers are used to set them.  I only need to touch up after five hours of wear.

The final step is the lips, and as with the rest of the face, the “Easy Sunday Look” is about lightness.  I love the Dior collection of Lip Glows because, like the Unisex Health Glow, it adjusts to your lip shade, regardless of the amount of pigment.  Clearly, if your lips are darker the shade will not be as prominent as on a less-pigmented pair of lips but the Lip Glows always leave a pink, coral or raspberry impression.  The Lip Glow’s shiny finish creates the illusion of fuller lips and it hydrates effectively.

Matte Raspberry.jpg

Photo Credit: Christian Dior, Canada



As someone who is plotting the next 10 years for her beauty routine, I conclude:

  1. To maintain a great complexion, a judicially followed skin care routine which includes creams and sera that suit your needs is essential;
  2. What you do to your face, you do to your neck – they are twins;
  3. The ring finger on your left hand has the least pressure so use this one when applying make-up around the eyes;
  4. To create a glowing look, you need a few products that work with this criterion, as glowing cheeks cannot compensate for a dull complexion;
  5. A light hand, with extensive use of fingers creates a softer look, that is relaxed, youthful and fresh.

In these pictures I have captured the “Easy Sunday Look” at various angles.






Not Aging, Just Proceeding to Hotness (Part 1 of 2) by Meena Khan

Contrary to Hollywood opinion, turning 40 is not a traumatic event that ranks with both birth and death as watershed moments in a woman’s life.  Forty was  not a crisis for me, rather, it was a moment to reflect what would be the beauty blueprint for the next chapter of my life.  I concluded  that I am not aging, just proceeding to hotness.

At 20, my metabolism was faster, and  I literally had the healing powers of  the Wolverine®.  I could dance until 3 a.m., eat a poutine, sleep for four hours, and then go to work on Sunday at noon (with my sanity intact).  If I attempted that routine now I would literally poke my eyes out with scissors.  The healing powers were counterbalanced by feeling inadequate and loading on make-up to hide my acne and to show the world the person I yearned to be: sophisticated, attractive and capable; make-up expressed my desired identity, as I was already a vital, active girl.

Now, my body is not as slim but my skin glows with scant discolouration, and after earning three degrees; travelling to wonderful countries; and learning seven languages, I know that I am sophisticated, attractive and capable.  The problem is that because my body is older and it takes longer to recover from the daily stresses.  I can look tired even if my mind is dancing. I now use make-up to express my vitality because my identity is strong and does not need embellishment.

At 40, I looked at my body, and realised that there were small, imperceptible changes, such as a consistently, slightly bloated tummy; tired complexion; nascent labial folds; and a swollen left foot.  I realised that if I addressed them immediately that they would take longer to manifest to the rest of the world.

Part one of the blog series deals with how I have tweaked my body routine so that I proceed to hotness and develop healthy habits for when I enter the final chapter of my life.


Beauty does not come in a jar of cream, it starts with  the produce we consume from  fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetable patches.  In order for my slowing cells to be full of pep and energy, I learned from the book Radical Beauty written by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Kimberly Snyder, C.N.,  that vegetables and fruit are important, and thus I have been drinking the Glowing Green Smoothie every day since August 2017.


Photo credit: www.chapters.indigo.ca

I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and have suffered from painful bloat after eating raw vegetables.  The wonderful thing about the smoothie is that it takes accessible vegetables such as celery and spinach, and makes them tasty and easy to consume.  I now drink two glasses of vegetables a day, and even though it is not as thrilling as a chocolate milkshake, I wake up every day feeling confident about my complexion.

Another tip I learned from Radical Beauty is to start each day with a warm cup of water and freshly-squeezed lemon juice.  It is not fun to drink something so sour but the lemon supports the liver which detoxes the body and facilitates waste elimination.  I really had to commit to this drink (read, I forced myself daily) but after a few weeks I noticed that my stomach was flatter!

Tea, not our parents’ beloved chai with its balai and sugar, is another important drink that I added to my life.  I read Doctor, I want to be Fairest of them all! by  Doctor Olivier Coutier-Clarins (“Clarins Book”), whose breezy tone belies its wisdom.


Photo Credit: clarins.com

Literally, every sentence in the book contains beauty tips that are easy to master and apply.  The book discussed the virtue of tea and how it helps to eliminate waste and have a positive impact on weight loss goals.  I immediately put aside my disdain for chai and decided to investigate this Asian hot drink.

In my research, I discovered Kusmi, a renowned Russian-French tea house.  It is as old as Canada, and its cosmopolitan nature means that a fledgling tea drinker can visit any part of the world in a hot cup of tea!   My two favourites are Boost, which is a maté, green tea, flavoured with cardamom, the classic South Asian spice.  It fills me with energy, and there is no need to add any sugar because the cardamom tastes delicious.  I drink a cup of this beverage right after the lemon water.

Boost Tea Photo Credit: T. Importation Canada inc.

Photo Credit: T. Importation Canada inc.

In the evening, I drink Menthe à nanah, a green tea mixed with the highest grade mint.  It soothes stomach, is incredibly refreshing, and lets me settle down to bed.  After a month, my upper thighs looked slimmer and my waistline became smaller!

Mente converted

Photo Credit: T. Importation Canada inc.


It is important to upgrade the level of buccal hygiene when you introduce tea to your routine.  When I started to drink tea, I noticed that the tea cup was always stained, and I realised that my teeth would look yellow if I did not brush my teeth.  In the morning, the combination of lemon water and tea is brutal acid wash on the teeth, so I wait for at least thirty minutes before I brush them.  Yellow teeth are aging, and thrice-daily brushing with nightly flossing ,neutralise the downside to tea consumption.

Toothpaste is an important choice because as a dark-skinned woman I resent how the stronger, mintier ones always irritate the skin around my mouth.  I want fresh breath but to see discolouration at the corners where the froth always seeps out while I am brushing is disheartening.  I want my bright teeth to be surrounded by a bright lip contour.  To that end, I am thrilled with Aesop Toothpaste which contains cardamom and wasabi.  It is gentle, leaves a soft freshness in the mouth and my dentist confirmed that my teeth are an excellent shade of white.


Photo Credit: aesop.com

Having a great smile and feeling confident about one’s buccal hygiene are essential elements of proceeding to hotness.


The Clarins Book is instructive on the issue of massage and how to integrate it into your daily routine.  I learned that simple, daily massages on the ankles, knees, stomach, feet and breasts, help to alleviate swelling and permit you to walk with energy which indicates that you are proceeding to hotness. The time commitment is five minutes daily.

I started to massage my stomach every morning, which tends to bloat because of my IBS, and after two months, I saw a noticeable difference.  I like to use a firming oil such as L’Occitane Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Supple Skin Oil because I also use that time to massage my breasts.  Each morning, as I lie on the floor massaging my torso, I cannot help but feel a tad silly but when I zip up my pants without having to pray to the gods for a millimetre of mercy, it reinforces the positive impact of my efforts.

Another sensitive area for me is my left foot (insert joke here).  I injured it in 2009 when I jumped into a fountain in Rome in front of the Scaline spagnole and over the years it became a bit swollen.  There were days when I could not wear my beloved high heels, and that really impacted how I saw myself.  In heels, at least for the first four hours, I feel confident, and then I just dream about my ballerines.  I looked at my left foot and nicknamed it Benedict Arnold and since I felt silly seeking the counsel of a podiatrist for slight swelling, I seized on the foot massages demonstrated in the Clarins Book.

I started to use the Caudalie Foot Beauty Cream which hydrates with shea butter and leaves a cool sensation.


Photo Credit: Caudalie

As I massage it in, my feet relax and the non-greasy finish means that I feel light and I wake up with soft heels come morning.  Walking with a slight limp because of swelling or stuffing corns into fitted shoes is no way to live, and to proceed to hotness you need happy feet.

I applied the massage principles to my shower routine, as I found it silly to just lather up and rinse, when I could add a an extra minute and massage in an exfoliating scrub such as Caudalie Crushed Cabernet Scrub


Photo Credit: Caudalie

This product’s pulverised grape seeds, grapeseed oil, and essential organic oils (cypress, juniper berry, rosemary and lemon), remove dead skin cells and relieve swollen areas such as the ankles and knees.  Further, by rubbing the scrub in a broad circular motions on the rear and legs, the body feels more sinewy and lengthened, and the skin looks fantastic.  I realised that proceeding to hotness means really enjoying all of my skin, even if my fat cells have extraordinary attachment issues with my stomach.


There is much (merited) brouhaha over keeping the eyes moisturised and I posit that the hands and lips, which are also thin-skinned, merit equal attention.  Like the eyes, these areas also provide clues to one’s biological age.

I started to notice that the skin on my knuckles were looking… ahem…  a tad lined.  I realised that for all of my efforts on my face, neck and weight, I did not want my Achilles’s heel to end up being my hands, the very limbs which I use to beautify the rest of my body!  The irony would be too bitter to accept with grace and calm.

Thankfully, I discovered L’Occitane Shea Butter One-Minute Hand Scrub and the Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm.  The former used to come in a jar and it was oilier whereas the current version comes in a tube and has a pasty texture.  I am pleased to report that using the product thrice-weekly helps to smooth the fine lines.  The ashiness  and rough knuckles are a thing of the past.

Shea Hand Balm Resized

Photo Credit: L’Occitane Canada

I had my doubts about the hand balm because the hand cream is excellent.  However in winter hand care takes on a life of its own, and stretched, whitened knuckles need TLC.  I massage in this thick, shea-scented cream, and I wake up with silky hands.  In fact, I no longer need to apply hand cream before I leave for work because my hands are still soft from the night before.  Its luxuriant texture and intense hydrating nature means that the balm means business and staves off the look of aged hands.

The lips lose volume as we age but this does not mean that they are any less sexy.  It just means adjusting your beauty approach.  One reason why I have not developed the lines around the lips is because I always hydrate the lips and the contour at night.  I literally rub in the lip balm in the contour.  I thoroughly enjoy Caudalie French Kiss because it is not greasy and it provides moisture and antioxidant protection.  I dislike feeling heaviness on my lips when I try to sleep, and this balm scores for impact and comfort.


Photo Credit: Caudalie


Sleep is essential for proceeding to hotness.  This is the time your body repairs itself and can absorb your products and nutrition, uninterrupted by the silliness of the administration of life.

Unfortunately, I am deficient in this area and although I sleep seven hours a night, eight is ideal for my body.  A great sleep where my body has benefitted from REM leaves me feeling energised and my face looking fresh.  The clarity in my mind is irreplaceable and the optimism I feel is like sunshine, even in the middle of a dreadful February.

I have not found a solution to reach eight hours but when I do, I will share my findings because there is nothing like bad sleep to enhance dark circles and impede one’s procession to hotness.


I am relieved to know that turning 40 does not mean that I am drier than a box of raisins at the bottom of a Halloween bag.  In fact, when you choose to proceed to hotness, you will never become stale.  The following tweaks to my routine have helped me to stay the path:

  1. Fruit and vegetables must be part of the diet;
  2. Tea is a fantastic complement to the diet;
  3. Buccal hygiene is essential to stave off tea stains and to maintain a great smile;
  4. Mini massages on parts of the body prone to swelling and bloat work after several weeks of consistent effort, and help to relieve stress on the body;
  5. The hands and lips are clues to one’s true biological age, and extra TLC has an immediate impact;
  6. Quality sleep is essential for the body to heal itself.




Beauty Queen of Wien by Meena Khan

Last week I visited the prettiest city in the world, Vienna, where each building, shrub and statue is impeccably presented.  As I prepared for the trip, I aimed to put my best foot forward so that I would feel confident in such lovely surroundings.

My biggest challenge was saving on liquid space in my carry-on luggage.  The famous clear zip lock bag that every Canadian struggles to not over stuff was not designed for my beauty routine.  I quickly concluded that I needed to step out of the vanity box and rethink my holiday beauty routine.

After carefully reviewing this webpage to assess what I am allowed to bring on the airplane in Canada:  http://www.catsa.gc.ca/liquids-food-personal-items, I concluded that I needed to focus on products that were “dry in nature” and served multiple purposes.

My first concern was buccal hygiene.  As one of millions of people who have suffered the indignity of a busted toothpaste tube, I knew that I needed a dry cleaning product.  I recalled from my childhood “vacations” in India that tooth powders existed.  They were abrasive and foamed when exposed to water.

I did not find tooth powder in Montreal but Lush has Toothy Tabs, which are tiny pills that you crunch in your mouth, and when  mixed with a wet toothbrush it turns into a cleansing foam.  I loved that 1) this bottle was much smaller than a full tube of toothpaste;  2) the same size as a mini tube of toothpaste;  3) two tablets per brushing created a soft foam that left my mouth fresh; and 4) it was so gentle that it did not sting the skin around my mouth (having darker skin leaves me prone to discolouration).

Toothy Tabs fromn Lush

Photo Credit: lush.ca

My second concern was personal hygiene.  I love my L’Occitane Cleansing Almond Oil but as right as this product is for my regular routine, the space and leak issues trumped and so I turned to soap.  Soap is dry, unbreakable, and if they are designed to also exfoliate the skin, it serves the dual purposes of cleaning and exfoliating the body.  The latter is particularly important for darker-skinned women because dry skin tends to look ashen and gentle exfoliation removes the dead skin cells to reveal fresh skin.  I truly enjoyed Fresh Cocoa Exfoliating Body Soap because not only did it clean and exfoliate my skin using crushed cocoa and coconut shells, it smelled like dessert.


Photo Credit: fresh.com

My third concern was skin care.  Sunscreen is famous for its gloppy nature and it has been cited by people to avoid its use.  This is foolish because sunscreen is instrumental in preventing skin damage 365 days of the year.  It is particularly important when you are flying at a cruising altitude of 32,000 feet or are driving through the Alps , where exposure to the sun’s rays is strong.   Darker skin tends to hyper pigment and excessive sun exposure will further emphasise dark spots, or in my case, cause an uneven tan.

I was thrilled to discover that Beautycounter, the company that has banned the use of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals versus Health Canada’s piddly 500, has created Protect Stick Sunscreens (SPF 30) for the body, and the eyes and lips.  These products are colourless, so they 1) do not leave a ashen finish on dark skin; 2) glide on effortlessly; 3) are rapidly absorbed by the skin; and 4) do not clog pores.

rsz_beautycounter_spf (1)

Photo Credit: Jane Gill PR

My fourth concern was how to look fresh and awake when I will 1) be jetlagged and have trouble sleeping; and 2) not want to waste a precious moment fussing over make-up when Vienna would demand my full attention.

Primers are a great way to even out the skin’s surface so that make-up stays on for hours.  Longevity is particularly important on holiday because no one wants to spend precious moments doing touch-ups, and besides bathrooms are not always available.   Primers come in liquid and compact formats which are both inconvenient.  Liquid speaks for itself, and the compact requires using a sponge for application which is both an extra 1) step in the routine,  and 2) item in my make-up bag.

I adore Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer because it is a stick format which means you apply where needed on the skin.


Photo Credit: Benefit Canada

I loved stroking this powerful primer on my T-zone and a nascent shallow line on my forehead.  The primer  permitted my skin to show, and I did not have to blend it.  My make-up lasted all day even though I walked for hours on end.

My skin is decent but I do have a few trouble spots.   When I am in holiday mode I want to look fresh and rested, not impenetrable and prepared for the worst.  I love Nars Velvet Matte Foundation Stick (available in 20 shades, so there are sticks for all shades of desi women) because one end is the foundation and the other a blending sponge.

HyperFocal: 0

Photo Credit: Shiseido Canada

I swiped the foundation on my trouble spots, and then blended with the sponge, and in moments my complexion was perfected.

The coverage is light-to-medium, so if the discolouration is dark, a few swipes will be required to mute it.  Further, its texture is matte not flat so the complexion is only uniform in shade and finish as it blends in with the skin seamlessly.

Dark circles are on full display during travel, and I find that liquid concealers simply lack the wherewithal  to meet the demands of jet-lagged skin and busy days in a foreign environment.  I switch to a stick concealer because it lasts longer and delivers more opaque coverage.  Clé de Peau Concealer (6 shades available) is justifiably classified as a legendary product because 1)it glides on like butter; 2) stays put for several hours; and 3) hides the darkness.

Cle de peau

Photo Credit: cledepeaubeaute.com

The magic of this stick is that it does not settle in the lines, rather it somehow manages to float and leaves you looking fresh for hours.  I touched up my concealer after 5-6 hours and then I can continue with the rest of my activities.


In this picture, I am in Salzburg at the fountain where the song Do-Re-Me from the Sound of Music was filmed. I had gotten up at 5:30 am, applied my make-up, travelled for 4 hours by car through the Alps, and my concealer is still in place!

My fifth concern was how to add colour to my face without breaking out the full routine and packing a myriad of products.  I focussed on my needs, namely convenience and the desire to look refreshed and awake, and then I selected the products accordingly.

The jetlag, restless nights, action-packed days, and differences in water impact skin’s luminosity.  A swift swipe of pink and a hint of bronzer revive the complexion immensely.  I love Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Blush Glow.  In one compact, I can lightly contour my face and add a bit of a sun kissed look, and then apply the universally flattering watermelon pink blush to  add brightness.

rsz_charlottetilbury_filmstarbronzeandblush_charlott_tilbury (2)

Photo Credit: Faulhaber Communications

This product reduces the number of items one needs in the make-up bag and adds freshness and dimension in a few strokes.

To  complement the blush and bronzer, I added  a few strategically-placed strokes of powder highlighter on the tops of my cheeks and under the eyebrows.  Please note that I was not aiming for Instagram glory, I just wanted to look like I arrived in Vienna via the Star Trek Transporter, not a 10 hour and 35 minute journey by air.

Rose gold is having a beauty moment and I decided to experiment with a metallic that dances on the precipice between warm and cool.  Burberry Fresh Glow Highlighter Rose Gold No. 04 is a sheer product that lends itself easily to layering with the tapered brush that is included in the pouch.


Photo Credit: shop.nordstrom.com


This my skin after I apply the highlighter to the tops of my cheeks and under the eyebrows.  It really opens up the face.

I loved dabbing it on the highest part of my cheeks and under the eyebrows, and I must say, it worked like a charm.  For darker complexions, the same effect can be achieved using a more golden highlighter such as Nars Overexposed Gold Highlighter – Double Take (limited edition).


Photo Credit: Shiseido Canada

To ensure that my eyes looked like they had seven hours of sleep, rather than the actual broken 8 I managed to salvage on a nightly basis, I relied on Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio in BE 213 (for darker complexions, gold-based palettes such as Burberry Complete Eye Palette in Gold Shimmer No. 25 is ideal) .  This trio of shadows which includes shimmery cream, rose gold and beige are sophisticated neutrals which can be mixed together or worn alone using the colour wash technique.

Shiseido Shadow

Photo Credit: shiseido.com

The neutrality of the palette ensures that it is goof proof and the shimmer ensures a restful look around the eyes.   On holiday, I do not need a rainbow in my make-up, I just need solid basics.  I wore this palette daily while I was in Vienna and always walked the streets knowing that I looked fresh.

The pièce de resistance of my dry products which helped me to achieve a refreshed and awake look was the Laura Mercier Longwear Crème Eye Pencil in Espresso.

After haplessly watching my liquid liner leak while refreshing my make-up on the airplane, I realised that in travel the beauty routine must remain as dry as possible.  I put that silly liquid liner away and used the pencil with great success for the rest of my holiday.

I am thrilled to report that this pencil just stays on for a long time (although I retraced the lower lash line five hours after my initial application to ensure that the intensity was consistent with that of the upper lash line).  It glides on like butter, and does not tug at the skin.  The brown is a cool ash, and contracts beautifully with the  eye shadow palette.  It complimented my dark hair perfectly, and because it is not as strong as black, it did not cast shadows on my face.  I felt like an Italian siren of from the fifties when I swiped on this liner.  It defined, without drowning, my eyes.

My trip to Vienna taught me that it is possible to maintain my  beauty routine that both respects the Canada’s  transportation regulations and my desire to look great with minimal time and touch-ups.  Desi women, because of their complexions, need to be vigilant about ashiness, and it is possible to keep the body and face glowing using dry products.  It is equally important to remember that holiday beauty is not about perfection so focus on products that multitask and work effectively at making you look fresh and rested.



Return of the Crown by Meena Khan

Desi women are renowned for their dark, lustrous locks.  Unfortunately, desi hair also falls prey to the drying effects of summer, namely, UV damage; chlorine from swimming pools; and air-conditioned places.

As summer draws to a close, hair repair is not solely the purvey of Caucasian women, desi women should also adapt a regime that revitalises to the scalp and restores integrity of the hair from root to tip.

This blog explores how products, which rely on natural and organic ingredients work with coarser hair.  I focused on these types of products because there is an overall beauty movement towards products that rely increasingly on raw, natural elements, rather than preservative-laden potions that are raising concerns about long term health impact.  I also discovered a series of products that will help aunties reclaim their mane. Unfortunately, in mass media these specialised products are not demonstrated on desi hair, and this blog aims to correct that state of affairs.


Earlier this year I had long locks which cascaded down my back.  I received many compliments but none of them allayed my scalp discomfort.  I noted that within a day and half of washing my hair, my scalp would feel itchy, and after washing my hair, the roots would feel heavy, while the rest of my hair bounced.  The effect was that of a flattened triangle.  At times, I would scratch my scalp frequently in a effort to relieve the heaviness and itchiness.  I concluded that since my hair was so long and heavy that it must be the cause of my scalp discomfort.

Once I cut my hair and donated it to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program my scalp discomfort did not subside, and I became frustrated.  I noted that when I brushed my hair, and lifted my hair from the scalp that it felt great but the feeling did not last.

One day while browsing downtown, I entered the Aveda store on McGill College and was intrigued by the pramāsana™ products whose focus is scalp care.  pramāsana™ draws on the Ayurvedic sciences to treat and balance the scalp.   The scalp is separate from the hair, and requires its own care in order to encourage healthy hair growth.

The concept made sense to me because as a yogini I get sweaty several times a week, and my scalp is often soaked.  Further, when I shampoo, condition and style my hair, some of the products are bound to stick to the scalp, no matter how thoroughly I rinse.  If the scalp environment is congested and lying under layers of dead flakes and product, how could I expect to feel comfortable?  Conceptually, it is like dry flaky legs in winter.  You scratch, and dead cells accumulate under your fingertips, and there is no relief until you exfoliate your legs, and apply cream.

Surprisingly, even though the pramāsana™ line has three products, using all three once a week, only requires four minutes and the impact lasts for seven days.  I always start with massaging my scalp with the Exfoliating Scalp Brush which is designed to knead the head and loosen the dead skin cells.



Aveda pramāsana™    Exfoliating Scalp Brush


I make sure to massage the top of my head, the sides and then I put my head down and do the underside.  I am equal parts fascinated and repulsed by the dead flakes that appear along my hairline after a minute of continuous massage.

Once the “gunk” is loose, I apply the Purifying Scalp Cleanser.  Its shape is reminiscent of  that of a Lepage glue bottle, so the nozzle is precise and nestles perfectly amongst the stands.



Aveda   pramāsana™      Purifying Scalp Cleanser


I always hold the bottle perpendicular to the scalp, start at the hairline, and drag the nozzle along from hairline to neck, never losing contact with the scalp.  I repeat this exercise at several points around the head, and then with the pads of my fingers I massage in the cleanser for two minutes.  It feels tingly, froths slightly, and imparts a soft herbal scent.  The combination of seaweed extract and salicylic acid really teach the “gunk” who is boss of the scalp!

I then shampoo and condition my hair, and am amazed at how quickly it all washes out.  There is no heaviness and the real treat is the Protective Scalp Concentrate.  It is packaged in a medicine bottle and the product, which includes ginger root extract, caffeine, rosemary, green tea leaf extract, is dispensed with a dropper.



Aveda  pramāsana™   Protective Scalp Concentrate


As with the Purifying Scalp Cleanser, I apply it at several spots on my scalp and then massage it in for a minute.  The Concentrate is absorbed rapidly, and leaves my scalp relaxed and light.  It does not interfere with my subsequent styling.

What struck me is that these three small steps leave my hair with a natural volume that lasts for two days.  Obviously, regular work outs can fell the mightiest of hairdos but these products left my hair overall lighter and my scalp comfortable for a full week.  I no longer have itchy fits and my hair is bouncier.  I am no longer a walking flattened pyramid.

Scalp care is as important as hair care because the beginning is the root which leads to the end.


Coarse hair needs hydrating care, and as with all types of hair two sets of shampoo and conditioner are needed to avoid product build up.

Kérastase is a renowned for being a brand that turns straw into silk, and its Aura Botanica line, continues the tradition albeit with a silicone-free, and  coconut-, argan oil -and-sugar infused approach, that gently cleanses the hair using natural surfectants.  The exclusion of silicone is an important development, because this ingredient ensures that products impart a smooth feel and add lustre.  On the other hand, silicone can prevent moisturising ingredients from nourishing the strands thus leaving them dry and brittle.  Aura Botanica’s use of 96-97% naturally-derived formulae is impressive, as is the fact that it is 99% biodegradable.

The scent of sweet orange essence in the Bain Micellaire is subtle and dissipates quickly, so people who are sensitive to scent should also be open to trying this product.



Kérastase Aura Botanica Bain Micellaire


The Bain’s soft lather removes the oil and dirt without stripping the hair.  My short-to medium hair length only requires a nickel’s worth of product and I liked how my strands felt free afterwards.  The extra treat came with the Soin Fondamental, its twin,  which like the Bain is infused with argan and coconut oils.  A nickel is all I needed to coat my strands from mid-shaft to tip.  I then tied my hair  up for three minutes, conducted other shower business, and then rinsed out the Soin.



Kérastase Aura Botanica Soin Fondamental


My naturally coarse hair was left feeling light and bouncy.  I let it air dry a few times and was impressed by how my hair looked smooth and glossy,  and was frizz-free.  Aura Botanica builds a wonderful case to focus on hair care products that rely on oils and sugars, rather than silicones to create a lustrous mane.

The complementary shampoo-conditioner duo, that is also silicone-free, 95% natural origin, and infused with ingredients such as quinoa husk and honey (shampoo) and coconut oil and kaolin clay (conditioner), is the R.A.W. Biolage Nourish duo.  R.A.W. stands for Real, Authentic Wholesome, and after several uses, I am sold.  Aside from the environmentally-friendly process whereby the plastic is 100% packaged, and like Aura, the products are 99% biodegradable, these products also left my hair feeling fresh and my strands were hydrated.

The shampoo looks and feels like honey, yet it is not sticky.  It lathers gently and I liked how after I rinsed out it my hair felt revived.



R.A.W. Biolage Nourish Shampoo


The Conditioner is thick, and is more of a treatment, so I left it in for five minutes.  I really appreciated how it quickly rinsed-out and when I let my hair air dry, it was soft and lush.



R.A.W. Biolage Nourish Conditioner


Both Aura Botanica and R.A.W. Biolage transformed my hair from straw to silk, and demonstrate that natural, organic ingredients suit desi hair perfectly.


I shampoo my hair thrice a week because I work out six times a week, and I sweat a lot.  After using Aura Botanica and R.A.W. Biolage, my third washing consists of applying Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse®  prior to my yoga class, and then washing with the L’Occitane Aromachologie Revitalizing Fresh Shampoo.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse® is renowned for hydrating the skin and leaving it silky.  However this multi-purpose dry oil, which is composed of Macadamia, Hazelnut, Borrage, Almond, Camellia and St. John’s Wort oils, also hydrates the hair.


Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse®  Photo Credit: us.nuxe.com

Since I practise Moksha yoga and the room temperature rises to 42 degrees, it creates the perfect sauna for a hair treatment.  I tapped several drops of the oil in the palms of my hands and then massaged them into my hair, starting a few centimetres away from the scalp.  I tied my hair in a knot and went to class.

I am pleased to report that during class the oil did not seep from my hair into my eyes and I did not develop any pimples along the hairline.  I noted afterwards that my hair was quite soggy and I was worried that even with a  good shampooing session, it would be limp.

After a week of styling and sweating a clarifying shampoo is a must for the hair, and L’Occitane Aromachologie Revitalizing Fresh Shampoo is a wonderful option for dry-haired types, and allayed my worry.

Aromachologie Revitalizing Fresh Shampoo

L’Occitane Aromachologie Revitalizing Fresh Shampoo

I like that it thoroughly  removes the oil and sweat, using a mix of mint, thyme, grapefruit, cedar and lavender essential oils, with plant-based vinegar.  My hair smells  a touch herbal afterwards but most importantly it feels clarified, and is not squeaking for mercy.

The combination of these oil-based products delivers the effects of a masque without the heaviness.  The fact that I can combine exercise with a hair masque, and then wash without the need for conditioner is both a time-saver and a game changer.  The natural oils imbue hair care with efficiency and effectiveness.


I am lucky that I inherited my mother’s hair and she sometimes remarks that my hair actually belongs to her.  I have also heard her lament that her hair is thinning, and it is sad.  Thinning hair affects both the young and old but it is rarely discussed, especially amongst desi circles.  It is usually dismissed as a part of life, and a vanity that is unsuitable for women of certain age.  I say bollocks to this attitude because every woman, regardless of age or ethnicity, has the right to enjoy her beauty.

Thinning can be due to age, medicine or diet, and conventional products might not be effective because the basic health of the person is compromised.  Watching my mom try to build volume with loads of hairspray where she once possessed a crown inspired me to research hair care for aunties.

I was thrilled to learn about KerMax™ products which focus on hair thickening and state that they are “Drug-free, safe for all women; all ethnicities and hair types“.  The system which includes a Volumizing Shampoo and Volumizing Conditioner, mousses and serum, claim to work within seven days and contain “… peptide amino acids, fruit stem cells and botanical extracts“.

Kermax Volumizing Shampoo
Kermax Volumizing Conditioner

The drug-free and safety aspects are key for many aunties because let’s face it, our aunties are getting older and medication is a part of their lives.  At times the medications negatively impact their manes.

My mother has been using the products for three weeks, and I have watched her like a hawk.  Mom likes the shampoo and conditioner because they are soft and are not perfumed.  She easily adapted the Essential Day Foam into her hair care routine, and after two weeks I noticed more volume at the roots, as in she did not shellac her hair to the heavens and it had body.



Kermax Essential Day Foam


After the third week, I looked at her part, which had been sadly widening, and noted that it narrowed considerably.  I said nothing to my mother and she came to me and asked how her hair looked.  She was tapping her part, and it was not tap of lamentation, rather it was a tap of hope.  Mom loves that this line of products is helping her to recover some of her lost mane.

If you are looking to invest in your mane, remember to spoil the aunties  too!


Scalp care and hair care are two distinct types of treatments that complement each other to create a lustrous mane within a month and thus putting summer’s dryness safely in the past.

Scalp care should be done at least once a week, and the keys are exfoliating the scalp and cleansing it.  A cleansed scalp permits hair to have bounce and it can have an impact that lasts several days.

Hair care should involve shampooing and conditioning no more than thrice a week, and that should be subject to the level of activity and sweat.  Remember, if you are not active, then a twice a week is sufficient.  Squeaky clean hair is a sign of dryness and over care – not healthy hair.  In this step, desi women should not shy away from organic and natural products, because they possess the heft and gravitas necessary to care for coarse strands.

Finally, our moms have given us hair but it does not necessarily mean that what works for us works for them.  Thinning hair could be the result of medicine or other health issues which means that a different hair care path must be followed to restore the mane.

After all the mane is the main thing.   

Sun-Kissed Brown Babe in the City by Meena Khan

Summer is here and with it comes memories from my childhood of being admonished to stay out of the sun, lest I became too dark.

Starting in my twenties, I became tired of being caged-in by the admonishment that I should stay medium-toned, while my lighter-skinned friends could run the gamut of the colour spectrum which changed with their desire and season. I too wanted their glow and in my desire to experiment and be bold, I ended up looking like a tangerine.

Thankfully over the past twenty years bronzing technology has progressed by leaps and bounds such that brown-skinned women can tinker with their tone and look anywhere from sun-kissed to bronze hot.

I am now in my forties and I have come to realise that I do not want to look bronze hot because that does not reflect my lifestyle. I avoid the sun but I am no Caliban because I like to run and stroll outside while window shopping.  These activities mean that I emerge from summer looking sun-kissed. I love it because being sun-kissed  heightens the beauty of my brown skin with  summer energy without shouting to the world that in ten years I will look like a prune.

The sun-kissed look is not just about the skin, it is also about the shades of cosmetics and their texture. The colours veer into the peach-gold territory which flatter every desi skin tone, and because they look so natural, they work in the board room and the park.

The best sun-kissed looks always start with a light hand and end with a light hand.


As my picture demonstrates, I have discolouration on my cheeks; three zit scars between my eyebrows; and dark circles. Even though I will play with my tone, I will cover the dark spots.

Meena Discolouration

I start with a mattifying bronzer such as Givenchy Mister Mat.


Givenchy Mister Mat

This product does not hide my skin, it effectively fills in the crevices such as ancient zit scars which date to my days when I was zit-popping champion in high school.

After the base is ready, I contour my nose and spot apply foundation. Spot application means that I will dab a droplet of foundation only on the discolouration and blend it into the skin using my beloved Shiseido Foundation Brush because its bristles are precise yet gentle.


Shiseido Foundation Brush


The key is to buff in the foundation until it sinks in, because the finished canvass should look even-toned, not splotchy.

Afterwards, I use a big blush brush and tap on a powder such as Givenchy Healthy Glow Bronzer.


Givenchy Healthy Glow Bronzer

I love this product because it comes in four shades that are designed for the palest to darkest of complexions.  This deeply pigmented product requires one healthy swipe across the raised planes of the face, i.e. the forehead, chin, cheeks and bridge of nose.  The powder adds instant warmth without transforming the face into a tangerine.  Its subtlety creates a professional, graceful, sun kiss.

An alternative to the traditional glow powder is a bronzing gel, such as Givenchy Mister Radiant.


Givenchy Mister Radiant Photo Credit: sephora.com

When I first laid eyes on this clear gel, filled with little pockets of bronze, I was filled with doubt.  I was convinced that I would end up with patchy-looking skin, as the bronze droplets would explode only where there they hit  my skin while the rest of my face would look pale in comparison.

Dollop of Mister Bronze

I squeezed a dime-sized dollop onto my hand and then massaged it into my face. I was pleasantly surprised by how alive my skin looked, and there were no patches of pronounced colour.  My complexion had ooumph.  Better yet, I was able to dab foundation and apply concealer on the trouble spots, and my face was transformed into a subtle glowing canvass.

I think both products are brilliant for creating the sun-kissed canvass and the one you choose depends on your skin type. I have mixed skin that veers towards oiliness in the summer which means that I prefer the Givenchy Healthy Glow Bronzer for the summer.  As of fall when my sun-kissed glow will start to fade and my face will be drier, the Givenchy Mister Bronze will work perfectly.

Meena Finioshed Look with Orgasm Lipstick

I am wearing the Healthy Glow Bronzer, Urban Decay shadow, Pump n’Volume Mascara, Orgasm Lipstick, Liquid Blush in Orgasm


Aside from grooming the brows and applying eye shadow primer, the sensuality of the sun can then be channelled with eye shadows that trapeze the thin line between neutral and a sizzling sholay.  The sun’s molten heart demands colours that just happen to bring brown skin to its full glory, namely gold, bronze, copper, cinnamon and cream.  The Urban Decay Naked Heat palette is a must-have for every desi girl because this palette has colours that reflect the sun – and fall’s upcoming seduction.  The 12 shades are rich, easy to apply and blend; and they stay on for eight hours.  Bonus: The double-ended brush included with the palette is professional-grade and is great for blending.

Urban Decay Heat

Urban Decay Naked Heat palette

On a daily basis, I like to use four shadows to create a work look. For example, the matte shades Ounce (soft cream – good base for light-to-medium skin tones) and Chaser (cappuccino – good base for darker skin tones) make a fantastic base for the mobile, lower lid.  These soft shades open the eye area with a few gentle taps using a flat, duckbill shadow brush.  In the crease, I like to use soft metallics such as Lumbre (copper) from the inner-corner to the mid-lid and then blend in a deeper metallic such as Scorched (chocolate) from the mid-to-outer-edge of the eyelid.   The brush that comes with the palette does an amazing job of depositing these metallic shadows and then blending them in seamlessly.   I then use a pointed liner brush and define the eyes with Ashes (dark chocolate).  For each brush I follow one mantra, “Apply softly. carry a great brush.”  Remember it is easy to layer on colour than to gloop it on and then restart the process when you realise that you have veered into clown territory.

Meena in Urban Decay Eye Shadow and Mascara

I am wearing Mister Radiant, Torrid Liquid Blush, Urban Decay palette, Pump n’Volume Mascara

I am excited to try the matte shades when fall will arrive! The colours make you realise that brown is not black’s poor little cousin.  It is its own rainbow which merits its day in the sun.

The finishing touches are applying a thin black line on the upper lash line and then apply a volumising mascara such as Dior Pump n’ Volume.

pUMP N' vOLUME.jpg

Dior Pump n’Volume Mascara

This majestic eyelash enhancer is practical because the tube has a rubberised indent which when squeezed deposits the perfect amount of product on the brush.  The bristle-dense brush head ensures that each lash is lifted and thickened.  The end effect veers towards Brigitte Bardot-St-Tropez-60’s look without the excess clumpiness of that look.  It is unabashedly sexy, and impactful that you may want to skip the liner step completely.


With so much brown on the face, the cheeks and lips are where I rely on pink (brown’s faithful contrast) and orange (brown’s sweet sibling) to create a soft, lush look. Given that the canvass has been perfected with a mix of bronzing products and cover-up, all the cheeks really need to do is look lit from within.

Nars Liquid Blushes are another must-have for desi women, namely the Orgasm and Torrid shades.  Orgasm is of course legendary in its powder form. This shade which is a perfect mix of peach, gold and pink, really makes all skin tones look fresh and sexy.  Torrid is a sizzling, alluring coral which is particularly flattering for darker skin tones.

Oragasm Blush sephora credit

Nars Liquid Blush in Orgasm Photo credit: Sephora.com

The square bottle is incredibly sophisticated but most importantly the pump dispenser expels enough product for both cheeks. I like to squirt the blush on the back of my hand, and then apply two dabs on each cheek.

Applying Liquid Blush

I blend the product on both cheeks simultaneously because this products sets fast, and remains in place six hours later.  I use my pointer and middle fingers to blend the product from the tops of my cheeks to my temples.  I then use longer strokes until the blush looks like it was born there.  The sun is about an easy look, and the cheeks do not need to be sculpted…. just sun-kissed.


The lips, like the cheeks, are about a sensual, sexy enhancement, rather than being overdrawn and dramatic.

I almost fainted when I heard that Nars launched the Orgasm lipstick as I had dreamed that there would be a lipstick that would match my beloved blush.  I was a tad nervous that the shade would be absorbed by my naturally-pigmented lips.  I tried the lipstick and am thrilled to report that the golden peachiness that makes my cheeks glow translated to my lips.  This is one universally-perfect shade (as declared by mainstream publications) that actually includes brown skin tones in its universe.  Orgasm lipstick is a fantastic summer shade that stays on for four hours before a touch-up is needed.

Orgasm Lipstick Sephora

Nars Orgasm Lipstick Photo Credit: Sephora.com

If your speed is more neutral, and monochromatic, Dior delivers sexy lips for this look with the universally-flattering Dior Addict Lacquer Stick in Poisonous.  It looks like chocolate milk without the sugar and with all of the sophisticated cocoa.


Dior Addict Lacquer Stick in Poisonous

It glides on like butter and stays on for four hours before a touch-up is required.  I love this  shade because it contrasts with my skin tone without screaming “CONTRAST!”  I must admit when I first saw it I recalled for one moment what I felt like as a 19-year old McGill student who was discovering high-end make-up for the first time at Holt Renfrew during the grunge-era when everything was brown.  How I wish Poisonous existed when I was saving money from my salesgirl job to buy make-up… it would have been my signature shade during undergrad.  I am pleased to say that this is lipstick has a special spot on my vanity for summer, fall, and winter.


One of my greatest fears when I started to embrace the sun-kissed look was what would I do with my considerably paler arms and legs? The mamacita appeal needs to extend from head to toe and I must say that St. Tropez One Night Only is a godsend.

Picture 2173

St. Tropez One Night Only

I like to shave my legs right before I apply this all day self-tanner to ensure a smooth surface without blotchiness. The brown gel is easily massaged into the arms and legs, and does not rub off on the clothes.  My limbs look sexy all day and the gel washes off with soap and water.  It literally takes up the shade of my arms and legs up by one which relieves them from their pasty pallor but adds just enough toastiness that it looks like I went for a walk.  This hint of colour ties-in with my desire to look sun-kissed which fits in with my lifestyle, and looks believable and polished.


The sun-kissed look is incredibly easy to achieve and for some people who want to be a bronze babe but are afraid to jump into the deep end, the sun-kissed look is a great halfway house between the untanned olive skin and the coveted look.

Each step of the look requires a light hand, because the look, like summer’s vibe is about being easy and breezy:

  1. apply a primer because excess sebum is never hot even if it is hot;
  2. changing the tone of your skin does not mean that you should forgo covering up circles and discolouration. Depending on whether you choose powder or liquid bronzer, tailor your complexion routine accordingly;
  3. the colour palette of the eyes should mimic that of the sun, i.e. warm golds and browns which are blended into the eyelid, and it is essential to add a hint of definition with a black, volumising mascara;
  4. the cheeks are easy which means just add a hint of definition, and this is easily-achieved with a liquid blush;
  5. keep the lips liquid and soft by using satin and glossy lipsticks in soft shades that mimic the warmth of the skin; and
  6. add a self-tanner to the arms and legs to ensure that the sun-kissed look maintains an air of reality, i.e. it is an overall glow like you walked in the sun.

The Older Shaadi Guest by Meena Khan

Wedding season is upon us and along with the festivities and glamourous outfits, for many, the season brings the anxiety of being judged for being an older Canadesi woman who has earned several  university degrees yet remains unmarried.  Personally, I have no problem with being single because I like making decisions that revolve around me.  However for qualified, kind women who yearn for companionship, these events can be nightmares, in large part because there are some aunties who walk around with a smug sense of self-righteousness and make obnoxious comments that cut the heart.

These obnoxious aunties raise my ire and trust me, I have slayed a few in my day.

I encountered such a creature at a wedding when I was 19 and in front of everyone she said, “Soon it will be your turn… are you looking?”  I was aghast at her sheer nerve, mentally noting that her son was short and erred on the side of not so hot, and I looked at her dead in the eye and answered, “Don’t worry about me aunty.  I had my palms read in India and the reader said that I am supposed to have three marriages.  So please don’t worry about me, I will have plenty of husbands.”

The aunty’s eyes widened and she quickly changed the subject.  I cannot help but observe at how the fates turned on her, as all of her children married, moved away and now she is alone taking care of the whole house and her ill spouse.  I take no joy in her hardship but I am happy to be at home (except when my mom is crabby) because whenever either of my parents has been ill, I have been by their side in a heartbeat – and I live for myself!

Unfortunately, too many Canadesi women have been trained since childhood to blunt their rapier wit and melt their iron tongues in favour of being deferential to obnoxious aunties.  I am certain that as I type these words, that there is a Canadesi woman somewhere in the Great White North being dismissed for being strong, independent and educated because she is not married.  As if  a signed marriage contract has any bearing on the wonderful person you already are inside!

This blog is about how to create a positive mindset and a fresh look that enhances the soul  so that when you attend a desi wedding, you will not dread obnoxious aunties because you will have too much fun being your best self and looking fresh!

Starting Point – One Month before W-Day

The other day I learned the expression, “Asian don’t raisin,” and I agree, extra melanin staves off the wrinkles.  Regardless, as the skin gets older, it needs a bit of nudging to glow and look taut, as skin cells turn over slower creating  an ashen look.

I had heard of chemical exfoliators which use fruit acids to dissolve dead skin cells.  As someone whose skin looks for an excuse to become discoloured I was distinctly uninterested  by this category of beauty product.

However when Fresh introduced Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy-Boosting Face Mask which is composed of clementines, oranges and lemons, I was intrigued.

Fresh Masque

It smells like my mom’s fruit chaat which is a gorgeous mix of summer’s bounty with a dash of kala namak.  The masque claims to “gently refine the appearance of the skin to soften, smooth and improve clarity.”  Having enjoyed great success with other Fresh products, which are always gentle, I decided to give this masque a chance.

The moment you open it, you will dream of the orange groves of Valencía; the texture is like a freshly-made jam that you find in the English countryside; and it spreads smoothly like cream cheese on a warm Montreal bagel.  The sensorial experience was captivating and I decided that my neck also needed treatment as this is where the skin starts to sag.  Initially, it felt a bit a cold, and then after 15 minutes it dried to a sheer layer of yellow cellophane.  I washed it off with warm water and was impressed by how soft my skin felt.  I opted to apply this masque thrice a week for four weeks and I am thrilled to report that my dark zit scars and  the discolouration around my mouth have faded; and my face and neck are taut.

The lips are incredibly sensual, unless they are caked in dead flakes.  I have tried granular exfoliators and if I happen to rub too hard my lips turn red.  I was interested in the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Wand.

Fresh Wand.jpg

It comes with a  built-in wand with a  nubby end that you massage into the lips.  The nubs gently remove dead skin while massaging-in mango butter and sugar.  My lips look plump after each morning application and for women with emerging lines around the lips, this product reinforces the natural lip line.

Hydration is essential, and I am impressed with the L’Occitane Divine Youth Oil.


It is designed to fight the visible signs of aging and is based on the Immortelle flower of Corsica that is renowned for its longevity.  Each night, I squeezed three droplets on the palms of my hands and then massaged it into my face and neck using upward strokes.  The massage relaxes the face, ensures that the product is absorbed rapidly, and leaves the face and neck rejuvenated.

Meena Bare Face

My face is not perfect but it is a pretty decent canvass thanks to the great products!

The body possesses the largest expanse of skin and it should never be neglected.  In summer months, in particular when its humid and stuffy, even a lightweight milk is hard to bear on the skin.  On the other hand air conditioning sucks the moisture out of the skin.  The halfway house between lightweight milk and dry skin is the dry body oil.  I am enamoured with Guerlain Huile Sous le Vent Nourishing Dry Oil, because it smells vaguely of jasmine and this almond oil  wonder absorbs rapidly and leaves my skin soft and sensual all day long.


I love that I can massage it in with a  few long strokes, which exercises the skin and leaves me relaxed on a daily basis.

With the face and neck smooth, the lips full  and the body taut, I felt confident.  Each day I spent 3-5 minutes focused on myself, and I really appreciated how my body has held up over the years.  At the age of 40 I only need mere creams and lotions to raise the youthful spirit of my mid-twenties.  Great products like the ones listed herein above are never a waste of time or money.

W-Day – The Day Before – Do the Nails

Confidence comes with addressing the details and then letting the chips fall where they may.  The chips do not include your nails!

The day of the wedding is always rushed so relax the night before by giving yourself a nude manicure.  I specify nude because desi outfits err on the side of bright, and the jewellery tends to be dramatic.  To avoid looking like an obnoxious  aunty, practise balance and keep the make-up on the lighter side.  Further, a nude nail makes hands look younger as more dramatic shades contrast hyperpigmentation and highlight sagginess.

I find that mainstream magazines tout nude polishes that rarely suit desi skin tones.  The mainstream nudes are too pink in the bottle and look gray on the nails.  It clashes horribly with the dark cuticles.

A great nude for a desi skin tone, much like a great concealer, has hints of peach.  I am thrilled with Butter London Tea with the Queen.

Butter Tea with the Queen

There is no hint of gray, and it makes my fingers look longer.

Manicure Pic

It is a Patent Shine 10X polish which means that I had glossy nails for five whole days!  I am equally impressed with the Butter London Nail Foundation™ Priming Basecoat because its off-white tint neutralised the yellow in my nails; and the Hardwear- Shine UV Topcoat did an amazing job of protecting my manicure.

I wore all types of bracelets and rings while I wore this polish and everything worked with my nails – no clashes, just confidence!

W-Day – Part One, Preparation

Have you ever entered an examination without having studied?  I swear that for all of my law school exams, I started to draft my course summaries from the first week of the semester and then launched into formal studying three weeks before the exam date.

The point is that when you are entering into an arena, be it the Coliseum or a wedding hall, half begun is only half done.  The previous month established the infrastructure for you to wear beauty products that highlight and enhance your individual beauty.  Remember that your DNA combination is unique and no matter what, you are genetically predisposed to be an original.

Consequently, never slap on make-up and then charge into battle.  Instead follow the preparatory steps listed herein below, after you have completed your skin care routine.  Just bear in mind that the make-up trends touted on Instagram which may include applying three types of highlighter to create angles sharper than English cheddar have no place in a fresh look.  Freshness is about you looking revived after a vacation and involves a minimum amount of contouring and pan stick.

1. Great selfies are not made by a chance meeting between your face and light… primer is essential to keep the skin looking flawless. Paul & Joe Perfect Makeup Primer is aptly-named and depending on the state of your skin you can either apply all over your face or spot apply (like I do) using clean, bare fingers. The extremely lightweight liquid goes on easily, creates a smooth canvass and its hint of colour adds a subtle glow to the skin which is an essential element of looking fresh.

Paul & Joe_Perfect Makeup Primer_BottleMeena With primer

2. The older we get, the more vigilant we need to be about the eyebrows because they are nature’s frame for our face. Aside from keeping them trimmed and tamed, fill them in with a dark brown waxy pencil such as Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil.


Photo credit: sephora.com

I love how the angle tips fits easily into my sparseness.  I only apply a few strokes and then use the built-in spoolie brush to mix the pigment with my hairs.  I then apply Givenchy Mister Brow Groom in Transparent to keep the hairs in place.

3. I have been contouring my nose since before it came to be spelled with a “k”. I am uncomfortable with my nose and simply adore how the Diorlight Blush & Contour thins my nose in three easy swipes.

Meena with Eye base and Contoured nose

I apply the darker shades down the sides of my nose and on the tip and then in the middle, I tap on the pearl shade.  Done.  The best contouring does not look you placed a samurai’s sword next to your cheeks and then slapped on dark contour make-up.  Great contouring adds a hint of definition, so that you look real but just a tad more sculpted.

4. I have trouble spots on the right side of my face, dark bags and some light scarring on my cheeks while the rest of my skin is decent. I want people to see my skin because it is my biggest organ and I am proud of it (abs are a different matter!). I love spot applying Shiseido Synchro Skin Glow Luminizing Fluid Foundation because it is lightweight and makes me look like a natural lightbulb which distracts from uneven skin tone and looks great in selfies.

Shiseido Foundation

5. My skin tends to be a bit oily and I like to set my make-up with lightweight powder. Givenchy Prisme Visage Perfecting Face Powder is a clever compact as it has four shades of brown and beige which are all found on my face.


For example, my forehead which  endures more sun exposure needs a slightly darker shade than the hollows of my cheeks.  When I swirl my big woolly brush over the four shades, I create the perfect one for my skin.  I apply the powder only where I applied foundation.  I cannot emphasise enough how bare skin looks sophisticated and confident.

            W-Day – Part Two, Colour

Desi outfits and jewellery can be quite colourful, heavy, intricate and Byzantine which means the make-up should be fresh and light.  The contrast allows the eye to appreciate the beauty of the outfit and your face, instead of everything melding into a mass of sparkle and glitz.

Aside from looking fresh, the make-up needs to withstand sweat and greasy food because desi weddings are not lightweight affairs. They are quite energetic and the last thing you want to do is to spend time in a bathroom retouching make-up.  You want to  dance the night away and confirm to yourself that you belong in the spotlight – even if it is the bride’s day.

1.The eyes have it because out of all of the make-up this one will be the least likely to be assaulted by pakoras and biryani, or slip off while dancing. A touch of colour which matches the overall scheme of your outfit is all that is required to liven-up coffee-coloured peepers.

Prior to applying make-up, neutralise the darkness on the eyelids with Dior Fix It 2-in-1 Prime & Color Correct in blue.


I swipe once across each eyelid and then tap it over lid using my ring finger, because it has the least pressure.  The skin is delicate so minimising tugging is imperative.

I then curl my eyelashes because I find the curler interferes with my eyeliner when I squeeze it at the base.

If you possess an artistic hand, then invest in Givenchy Prisme Quatuor in Inattendue.


 This quartet of shadows is infused with shimmer and comes in chocolate, deep pink, slate gray and deep mauve – classic glamourous, desi colours.   Four hours later the eye shadow remained in place and did not migrate into the sockets.  Further, the shimmer is refined and subtle such that it adds twinkles around the eyes without highlighting fine lines.

If your make-up look veers towards simplicity then Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic Waterproof Glide-on Eye Shadow is the perfect product.


Photo credit: makeupforever.com

This creamy shadow stick glides on like butter, stays on like a stain and does not interfere with concealer.  I rimmed my upper and lower lash lines with these sticks and was always amazed by how I only needed a minimal touch-up after five hours of activity.  I am particularly enamoured with ME-32, a soft khaki that veers toward gold and D-21, an unapologetic peacock turquoise that evokes the peacock, the national bird of India.

Meena Green Eye shadow Look

The D-21 adds luminosity to the eyes.

After applying a dark liner to emphasise the eyelashes I tested the Shiseido  Full Lash Multi-Dimension Mascara (Waterproof) and its bendable brush is a game changer.

Shiseido Mascara

First the formula is strong in that it delivers on definition and volume but what is outstanding is that the brush head can bend at 90°, 70°… etc., which means that I can coat the tiny lashes in the corners without fear of poking my eye.


The waterproof formula does not crumble or flake in the corners, which is a drawback of many formulae, and my lashes stay glamourous the whole day.

2.I then apply the queen of all concealer kits, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage

I chuckle at how I struggled to use this product in the nineties because 1. the texture was dry and I did not understand that you had to warm it up; and 2. I was uncomfortable using two shades of concealer, as I believed that you needed only one. Twenty years later, I am enamoured with this product!.  I twirl a foundation brush over the peach colour and then tap it on my circles and scars.


I then blend it with my fingers and am impressed by how the product just  melds into the skin.  I then tap the lighter shade on the outer contour to add brightness.  I look like I slept for eight hours which is an integral part of the fresh look.


3. The cheeks are important because they can make or break a selfie. If they look hyper-contoured though, you will look great in a selfie and weird in real-life. The halfway house between blah and overdone is strobing, a technique where you deposit light to bring forward a feature.  I love these Nars the Multiple shades to strobe on the cheekbones: Copacabana (light skin), Hot Sand (medium skin – my obsession!) and South Beach (dark skin).  The glowing base permits your skin to take on any blush shade.

NARS Hot Sand Illuminating Multiple - jpegNARS-Copacabana-Multiple NARS Hot Sand Illuminating Multiple - jpeg

The two outstanding shades that complement desi complexions and outfits are Nars Bumpy Ride, if the outfit veers towards  the coral-orange family, and Mata Hari if the outfit veers towards  the pink-red family.

BUmpy RideMata Hari

Nars Mata Hari and Bumpy Ride

Both shades also work beautifully with neutral outfits that are green, black or blue.  I take a blush brush and just apply one layer of the blush.  The advantage to strobing is the powder locks with the creaminess of the Multiple to stay in place.

Meena strobing

4.The lips are the sexiest part of the face and the first to fall prey to the beauty dangers encountered a desi wedding. The key is to add lasting colour to the lips without making them shrivel under a matte or stain formula. Many Candesi women, myself included, are cautious about selecting the colour because natural pigment in the lips alters the impact of a lipstick.

I recommend hydrating the lips with a Dior Lip Glow balms, which hydrate and add a hint of colour to the lips.  My experience is that when I apply a coral or orange lipstick, the Coral shade really enlivens these shades on my lips.

Dior LIp Colour Reviver

Now for the colour products: I applied the Dior Lip Tattoo in 451 (natural coral), and I was amazed by how this product stayed on for hours and did not dry out my lips.  It withstands naan and aloo attacks and simply refuses to transfer.  I enjoyed similar success when I applied Dior Lip Glow in Pink and then after a few minutes I layered Lip Tattoo in 761 (natural cherry).  I looked like I ate a sophisticated popsicle handmade in Italy.   

M655 ADDICT LIP TATTOO 17 M02L Gamme_Tag30_L4_F39

If you prefer the matte mouth but detest how lipsticks become mushy in the heat, then Nars Velvet Matte Pencils are the answer.  I appreciate how quickly I can apply them, how slow they are to fade and they plump the mouth.  I think a beautiful neutral for light-to-medium skinned Canadesi women is Intriguing and for darker-skinned Canadesi women Pussy Control is a great option.

Nars Intriguing

Nars Intriguing Photo Credit: sephora.com

Scroll up to see Intriguing paired with the Make Up For Ever khaki shadow.  It is very sexy and fresh!

5.A final touch is to apply a pearlescent powder on the raised parts of the face. When I first saw the Guerlain Météorites Illuminating Powder in Birthday Candles I was afraid that it would clash with my olive skin.

Guerlain Bday

I also believed that if my skin looked great what would illumination do?  Then I asked myself what is the difference between seeing art in the office by a window on a sunny day and or seeing it outside in the sunshine?  The subtle enhancement of light adds a freshness that cannot even be found with nine hours of sleep!

I traced my big woolly brush over the pearls, then applied it, and was left with a  subtle glow that locked in my make-up all day.

Meena fully made up wo bday pearlsmeena-with-bday-pearls.jpg

On the left I have no Birthday Pearls and on the right I do.

            W-Day The Invisible Accessory

After a month of preparation and a fresh make-up routine, please do not forget fragrance (unless you have allergies of course).

Prior to spraying yourself, imagine Aunt Hetty declaring to Rachel Lynde, while walking through the streets of Avonlea, “She was drrrrenched, simply drenched.”  Remember that your personal space will mingle with those of others and that a few well-placed spritzes is all you need to make the perfect statement.  Perfection is not defined by loudness.

I love to spritz on my cleavage, under my ears, in the crooks of my elbows and the wrists, and then I let the molecules absorb.  If you rub your wrists you impede the proper development of fragrance on your body.

For summer 2017, I found three fragrances that speak to the different aspects of a complex woman (I mean you!), and they are all unforgettable:

1.If you are a romantic who loves florals, then Shiseido Ever Bloom is ideal. This mixture of clycamen, lotus and rose, starts sweetly sharp and then settles into a powdery seduction. I find that at night the fragrance becomes more intense, as if the molecules interact with the night time flowers.  This fragrance will embolden you  to embrace your inner-siren.  I know that when I spritz it on I walk in a more sinewy manner and yearn for the evening to come.

Ever Bloom

2.If you possess an effervescent personality who loves the freshness of the morning dew, then L’Eau Kenzo Aquadisiac (limited edition, launch date July 12, 2017) is ideal. It is a marine-like mixture of pear, lotus and white musk that makes you wonder if siren calls were accompanied by this dreamlike scent. It is energetic, like the waves of the sea, yet incredibly feminine, like the froth upon it.  I was never one for oceanic fragrances until I tried this one and I believe I adore this fragrance because I am transported to my dream beach when I spritz it on.


3. If you love sweets and are deeply sensual, then Aerin Tangier Vanille D’Or is ideal. The first time I smelled this fragrance I imagined that I was walking in a souk eating ice-cream.

AERIN Beauty_Product on White_Tangier Vanille d'Or_Global

This fragrance is a tribute to Marco Polo’s travels because its international pedigree of Madagascar Vanilla, Italian Bergamot, and rich Bulgarian Rose, with notes of Saffron and Myrrh, arrests the mind and body.  I almost wept from joy when I caught my first whiff, as I am a dedicated gourmande and the tango between the vanilla and saffron made my heart soar.

            W-Day The Wedding

As you enter the Coliseum  wedding hall and you feel the gaze of the obnoxious aunties alight upon your person remember that there is no such thing as the perfect life path.  Just  because you avoided a starter marriage at the age of 21 when everyone claimed to have found a suitable boy for you or you had the courage to get out of a marriage that did not fulfill your needs  you are not married and refuse to settle for less than your immeasurable high worth  does not mean that an obnoxious aunty has the right to make veiled-barbs.  Do not be afraid to respond politely to their butameezi because age should never serve as a shield to protect these obnoxious aunties from an overdue, gentle-yet-firm training in the basics of politeness.  Never let anyone diminish your self-worth, and remember no one can stand up for yourself like you can.

Never forget that your body is glowing, your skin looks great, and you smell wonderful.  You also know that in fifteen years when you look at the wedding pictures, you will be unable to identify when it was taken because fresh make-up wears well, is timeless and lets the genetic wonder that is you shine through.

Pink is the Navy Blue of India by Meena Khan

Legendary Vogue editor Ms. Diana Vreeland once observed that “Pink is the navy blue of India.”  For anyone who has visited a South Asian country or just had tea at their parents’ place, it is easy to appreciate how in South Asian culture the brights are the primary focus and the neutrals… well are sometimes completely cast aside.  After all who needs beige when you can wear marigold or turquoise?

It is likely that when Ms. Vreeland referred to the colour pink she was not referring to baby pastel.  I suspect she had in mind what is known as gulaab.  You know the bright, mind-blowing shade of pink that announces joy and glamour even in the middle of a power outage in the dead of midnight in mid-January in the middle of the Canadian tundra.

Gulaab is a pretty shade of pink but it is but one of the plethora that stakes a legitimate  claim to the term pink.  Understandably, the brighter shades are a classic choice for many South Asians because of 1) cultural imagery; and 2) it shows up on darker skin tones.

As someone who enjoys colour and sees terms like red, blue and pink as categories that organise a rainbow of shades such as marsala, Klein blue and camelia, respectively, I believe that South Asian skin tones can look great in a variety of shades such that pink can become a neutral staple, just like navy blue.

To successfully add pink to one’s vanity, the following tips should be followed:

  1. create glowing skin;
  2. mute discolouration or darker areas which can “swallow-up” softer shades of pink;
  3. avoid using black liner, as pink, regardless of shade, is a soft colour, but keep the black mascara;
  4. rosy pink cheeks is within everyone’s grasp, it just takes a trick or two; and
  5. work with the tones of your skin to select the correct shade of lipstick.


The expression “the pink of health” is not reserved for the palest skin tones and cute babies.  I am medium olive complected, middle-aged woman and after a great run, my cheeks are flushed pink.  The key to a beautiful shade of pink for any skin tone has to do with a hint of glow and suggests inner-radiance.

Consequently, a glowing foundation should be used to highlight pink make-up.  Personally, I spot apply the Stellar Limitless Foundation, which was designed by Canadian TV personality Monika Deol, to meet the foundation needs of medium-toned women (i.e. this line is a great one for South Asian women).  This foundation adds a beautiful, natural glow to the skin and blends seamlessly.  There is absolutely no struggle to get it blend, it just melds into the skin with no risk of attah syndrome whatsoever.

Stellar Foundation

The key is to spot apply because I do not want my face to look like a mask.  Regardless of the occasion I want my real skin to be evident, not enveloped in make-up.  It makes for a healthier look and reminds me that I have come a long way from my acne-ridden teen years of yore.


I have written it before, and I will write it again, one of the banes of being a South Asian woman is the darkness around the eyes!  I have searched high and low for an eye shadow primer that would hide my darkness and permit me to wear softer shades of pink.  For years I relied on cream-shaded primers to “cover-up” the darkness.  The primers worked for the few hours and by lunch, the underlying darkness seeped through and literally swallowed-up my delicate pink shadow.  It was cakey mess and I became disenchanted with cream-shaded primers. I also set aside the soft, illuminating shades of eye shadow because it looked like a mess by noon.

As an alternative I investigated the colour-theory approach to complexion-correction and I did so with great trepidation.  I remember that when I was teenager, I was desperate to get rid of the redness which my acne left in its cruel wake.  I purchased a green-based corrector and applied it on my skin.  I appreciated how the green cancelled the red and but the green remained apparent on top of my medium olive skin.  It was like I traded half a dozen of one for six of another.

I was intrigued by Dior Fix It Colour 2-in-1 Prime & Colour Correct in 100 because this light blue stick is supposed to brighten the eyes and its centre is filled with a  soft focus powder that evens the surface.


The idea of using blue intrigued me and I was rather desperate to wear some fabulous shades of pink, so I tried it.  I am so happy that I gave this product a chance!

The blue literally neutralised my dark eye lids and created a beautiful canvass for me to try all sorts of pink shadows without risk of my underlying darkness seeping through and swallowing up the colour.  Why?  The darkness was neutralised and the soft powder centre prevented caking!

Meena Naked Eyes

My eyes without make-up

Meena Naked Eyes and Primer

My eyes with the one lid covered in primer.

Meena Naked Eyes Blended Primer

The lid with the primer is much brighter

I knew the product was a success when I experimented with the Dior 5 Couleurs Designer 508 Nude Pink Design.


This quintet of eye colour hovers in the nether region between soft pink and baby beige.  For many South Asian women such shades would look dead or ashen because the softness of the colours would not compliment the natural darkness around the eyes.  The primer permitted me to mix and match the four eye shadows and define with the chocolate brown liner on top and Burberry Chestnut Brown liner (see below) on the lower lashline:

Meena in Pink Nude Design and Chestnut

My eyes with Fix-it, Pink Nude Design, Chestnut liner and Nars mascara

A fantastic “nudey pink” equivalent for darker skin tones is Burberry Eye Colour in Rose Pink No. 201.

Burberry Shadow

This unabashed rose pink has a hint of coolness which permits darker skin tones to play with pinks without veering into a full-on berry shade.  I love that this powder is silky which permits you to layer it without risk of caking  The product is a wet/dry one which means that it can be applied wet which heightens the intensity of the pigment, taking it from a classic rose nude to a full-on colourful shadow.

Stila’s Matte’N Metal Eye Shadow Palette has something for all South Asian skin tones.  This palette contains twelve eye shadows which range from soft gold to sweet heather pink, of which six are metallic and six are matte.

Stila Matte 'N Metal Eye Shadow Palette - Open HI

The shades can be layered to create many alluring combinations.  I love mixing metallics to create a sultry warm weather look.  Sequin and Retro are two shades that gave me a glamourous look, and paired perfectly with Burberry Chestnut Brown liner (see below):

Meena in Stila and Chestnut

My eyes in Sequin and Retro with Chestnut Liner and  Nars mascara

Meena Close up Stila, Chestnut and Nars

Close-up of my eyes

Which brings me to my next point….


Black liner is an essential part of every South Asian woman’s vanity.  It looks great but black can also look harsh in summer months and there are viable, equally attractive liners that define without the harshness.

Nars Velvet Liner in Darklight is a deep navy blue which defines the eyes without looking witch-like.

Nars Liner

The formula’s creaminess permits you to cheat with the smoky eye, as you can apply an extra thick line, and then smudge it with a cotton bud to smoke up the eyes.  Darklight’s impact is a great match for brighter, blue-based pink shades, such as Estée Lauder Pure Colour Envy in Neon Azalea.  The blue adds a freshness to the eyes and at the end of the day the colour does not exacerbate any tiredness that may further pronounced with  a smudged black liner.

Burberry Effortless Kohl Eyeliner in Chestnut Brown No. 02 is the ideal brown for warm summer months because it is dark without being stark.  The warmth of this shade plays off perfectly against the softness of sweeter shades of pink and its staying power is impressive.  It is a wonderful complement to softer pink shades of eye shadow as demonstrated in the pictures in the previous section.

Burberry Liner

Switching up black liner for navy blue of chestnut brown does not mean that you should necessarily abandon black mascara.  A black mascara matches many South Asian manes perfectly and it adds a scintilla of gravitas against the softness and flirtiness of pink.  In warmer months, a great mascara creates a fresh, wide-eyed look where the lashes are defined and separated.  I thoroughly enjoy Nars Audacious Mascara in Black Moon because its huge brush with separated bristles always coats each of my lashes and separates them perfectly.  I like that after two coats my eyes looks wide awake (after a late night) and that bristles are so defined that I never lose time separating clumps.

NARS Audacious Mascara - full size - closed

                ROSY PINK CHEEKS

The image of rosy pink cheeks has typically been relegated to that of children running through a field and then sucking on popsicles on a front porch.  The image is fresh and truly the ideal to strive for when applying pink blush.

The key is to strobe the cheeks and then apply a powder lush.  The advantage is twofold, as the cream base and powder cosmetic textures lock to stay in place.  Further, the strobing product addresses the issue of how to make the skin glow, and allows pink pigment to do its work on the colour front.

I prefer to strobe my cheeks because adding light to cheekbones, rather than re-sculpting with multiple powders, is efficient and effective.  Besides, in warm weather who wants to spend time defining their cheekbones with multiple steps?

Nars the Multiple is legendary because each swipe delivers glow, no questions asked.  I love that these sticks do not clog my skin; are long lasting and; work with blushes, instead of competing with them for “cheek dominance”.  Copacabana‘s silver iciness flatters cooler, lighter skin tones.


My personal obsession is Hot Sand as this soft champagne, makes my medium-tone skin look alive.

NARS Hot Sand Illuminating Multiple - jpeg

South Beach is a soft, coral gold that flatters darker skin tones.


The key is to swipe the Multiple where your cheeks flush after a good work out  You only need one swipe because the Multiple is pigmented and the glow starts the moment it touches the skin.  Afterwards, blend it into the skin.  and then apply a pink powder blush.

I am still enamoured with Givenchy Prisme Blush Duo in No. 04.  This duo of peach and soft baby pink, swirl together beautifully to create a natural look that enhances light and medium skin tones.


For medium and darker skin tones, Nars blush in Angelika is a mauvey pink with a hint of sparkle.


In the compact it looks like a tough application but one swipe atop a Multiple and Angelika makes the cheeks look cherubic sweet:

Meena Strobed in Hot SandMeena Strobed in Hot Sand and Angelika

Picture on the left is how Hot Sand looks on my cheeks and the one the right shows Hot Sand and Angelika


The one place on the face where one is expected to have some pink is on the lips.  This point was driven home to me when I was a little girl in Brownies and Kim, a fellow Brownie, asked in a sharp manner why my lips were purple.  I felt like asking her if she would like me to ask why her face would be black and blue face in a few minutes but I digress…

In fact, my lips were not purple but multi-coloured, as is the case with many South Asian women.  The outline is a tad darker than the centre of the lips, which makes selecting a pink lipstick a two step process.  First, you need to settle on the finish: matte, satin or gloss?  The more translucent the texture the more likely you lips’ natural colouring will “poke through” which impacts question two, which shade you should select.

Since pink is cited as a great nude, I found three shades that work on South Asian lips.  For light-to-medium lips, I discovered and fell in love with  Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Shine in Mischievous Rose, a soft pink shade that creates a sweet look.  The shade has been discontinued but below is a picture of similar shade called Rebellious Rose:

PC envy sculpting lipstick - Rebellious Rose


For darker lips, Stila Lip Glaze in Berry ,despite its name, is a beautiful pink-mauvey stain which celebrates the natural hue of darker lips.

Stila Berry

Like Rose Pink and Angelika discussed hereinabove, this product uses a hint of mauvey coolness to keep the colour in the pink family without sliding into the berries.

No blog  on pink for South Asians is complete without looking at vibrant shades that suit all shades of lips.  Neon Azalea is a great example of what I like to call a classic “shaadi ki bharat pink“.  Unabashedly electric and statement-making, it is a matte shade that envelops the lips in a blaze of femininity and fits in perfectly in the middle of a South Asian wedding.  The matte finish ensures that after you have polished off a basket of pakoras, that a healthy dose of colour remains fixed on the lips.

Neon Azalea

If you prefer to take the electricity down a notch, Givenchy Rouge Interdit Lipstick in Infrarose with the matching Lip Liner in Fuchsia is an unbeatable combination.


The blue-based deep rose shade is a tad glossy and is incredibly sophisticated.  The Fuchsia lip liner enhances the shade and does an excellent job of keeping the lips pink.

Meena in Darklight and Infrarose

This is me in Darklight, Infrarose and Fuchsia.


The plethora of products on the market demonstrate that pink is a great category of colour for South Asians.

Looking great in pink means achieving glowing skin and hiding discolouration so that the true beauty of the shade shines through.  Thereafter, the focus should be on colours and textures that flatter your particular skin tone.  The shades and textures which are now available permit every South Asian woman to look gorgeous and sweetly confirms that pink is indeed the navy blue of India – but so what?  Think pink!