Why I love beauty

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

You know this meme: 
‘“Girls wear makeup to impress boys.” You think I own 78 MAC lipsticks to impress a boy who can’t tell the difference between Russian Red and Ruby Woo? No.’ 

It’s completely true. We don’t wear makeup to impress boys. In fact, most boys detest makeup. They (quite naively) feel like most beautiful women were born looking like fairy princesses. But they don’t realise that it was before we got our eyebrows done and legs lasered. And that perfect dewy skin? Good skincare, a touch of concealer, a dab of highlighter and tinted lip balm. I tell you these boys are so easy to fool. But, I digress. I was talking about makeup.

The first makeup that I ever owned was a Personi matte lipstick and and Olivia Foundation stick. I loved both dearly. Even though I’m now quite convinced that the foundation stick was the main reason behind my teen breakouts, I just loved smoothing it on my face. It was a lurid peach coloured foundation that smelled amazing. I would run it in a T shape on my T-zone and then blend it out, followed by a Personi lipstick. Even though it was a spartan ritual, it really was ‘me time’ in the truest sense. Blending that hideous stick on my face was almost meditative, I didn’t think about a thing during those moments. 

During my first job as beauty writer at Cosmopolitan, I was barely paid anything. Still, I spent almost all of my money on makeup. This was way back in 2002, when The Body Shop was considered a luxury. I remember me and the other girls at Cosmo poring through international Marie Claires and Allures, lusting after a Wet n Wild Megaslicks Lip Gloss. The only luxe beauty brands at that time in India were Dior, Elizabeth Arden, Nina Ricci and YSL. And all of them were available at Shopper’s Stop. Every month I would buy a piece of luxury makeup, foregoing the latest dress or cool bag. Then when I moved abroad to Kuala Lumpur, I was suddenly in beauty heaven. Shu Uemura, Kiehls, Estee Lauder, Crabtree & Evelyn - all the brands that we only lusted after were actually within reach. 

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The first thing I did was get my hair highlighted with super-fine honey highlights. I underestimated how much it would cost and I had to (embarassingly) make another trip to the ATM to draw extra cash. Then I revamped my entire bath products and used everything from Crabtree & Evelyn. Even today when I think of KL I can smell their Aloe Vera Body Wash - I was so, so young back then. I was lucky enough to begin writing for the Malaysian Harper’s Bazaar, and in fact, my first story was about new textures in makeup. And so with my payments, I bought all the new textures at that time, such as oil to emulsion cleansers, cream to powder blush, lip stain etc etc. 

Those were the days when Benefit had just been launched, and Benetint was EVERWHERE. All the celebrities used it for red carpet events. When my husband visited London I asked him to get me Benetint, but he generously got me a whole bag of goodies that included the Eyecon creme (now discontinued), Bathina Body Balm, and few other things. Even today I can remember the sharp rosy scent of those products. My beauty box kept growing as I became older - Alpha H Liquid Gold to make my skin smooth, Lancome Definicils (my first luxe mascara), Guerlain Terracotta Bronzer that I still use, Estee lauder Idealist, which made my skin look poreless in my 20s. 

Then we moved to London, where I discovered Liberty (my favourite beauty store), bath bombs by Lush, and the best hairstyling salon in the world called Viva My Hair in Soho. Over the years I have tried and tested a whole lot of products, stores and services. I remember the salon in Rome where the stylist gave me a haircut while I was standing in five minutes flat. Then there was the wellness store in Berlin (Vitalia), where you can get everything from gluten free pasta to raw chocolate bars, vegan condoms (!!!), pure mango butter and avocado oil. And of course the French pharmacies where I buy eyedrops (Inoxy Blue) and toothpaste (Elgydium Blancheur).

You could say that I’m beauty obsessed, which of course I am, but for me beauty has been an ally instead of an enemy. I stopped wearing makeup during the worst times in my previous job when I was stressed and bullied. But thankfully, I had angels around me. One of my dearest colleagues took me aside (you know who you are) and told me to snap out of it. He asked me to put on some lipstick and walk like I owned the room. And you know what? That changed everything. The next day onwards I wore lipstick like a weapon and things soon went my way. 

Beauty for me is not just about the results, it's a meditative act, a matter of self care. When I sweep on a peel pad in the evening, I don’t think of anything else during those moments. When I shoot my makeup videos I forget about all the stress and worries. When I apply eyeliner, I feel like I’m creating art. It satisfies me in every which way, and the amazing results are just a side effect. Perhaps that’s the reason why the beauty industry has some of the nicest people in the world - because we are an ultimately satisfied bunch.