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