Love the skin you're in: tips and products to complement Indian skin tones

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.58.12 PM
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.58.12 PM

As a young girl, I grew up with a constant fascination for all things beauty and fashion. I remember experimenting with my mom’s makeup products as a child, or obliterating my dolls with obscene amounts of blue eye shadow and red lipstick that I perceived as glamorous. But as I grew older and my tastes refined (thank goodness), so did my sources of inspiration. I went from ogling Bratz dolls and Barbies to researching the art of makeup through all available means online — especially beauty tutorials on YouTube. I loved the ease of learning makeup through videos, mimicking the movements of the beauty “gurus” visually and easily. But, as I often sat down to recreate my favorite looks, I would realize that a lot of what looked good on women of one skin tone, looked completely different on me.

I was born in India with golden tan skin characteristic of many Indians, but darker than a lot of the women that were teaching me how to do my makeup. There are over a billion Indians on this earth, yet I had trouble finding someone who could help me with makeup that fit my skin tone and type. Throughout the years, I messed around with makeup products and methods, and found what worked really well for mid-range skin tones.

Makeup preferences are completely arbitrary, and this is just a slew of suggestions based off my personal tastes. Also, there is really no single Indian skin tone. India is a diverse place in most aspects, and skin tone is no exception. There are a wide spectrum of shades that can be defined as “Indian,” and these are all tips that I believe encompass a wide range of them, if not all.

Highlight & Contouring

Highlighting and contouring your face can enhance and add definition to your bone structure. But, on darker skin, frostier whites can look harsh and orangey glows might not show. For the best dewy highlight that looks completely natural, I prefer champagne and gold colors that seamlessly blend into the natural color of your face. As for contouring, bronzers that might work for lighter skin tones don’t even show up, much less make a difference on darker ones. For contouring, I prefer to use a darker taupe/brown shade and blend furiously. If you top that off with a darker bronzer it is the perfect combination of glowing and defined. I’ve listed my favorite products below!

Highlighter: Benefit High Beam Liquid Highlighter

Contour: Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Faint (yes it’s an eyeshadow, but it’s the perfect face contour for darker skin tones)

Bronzer: NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Powder in Sunny

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Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.58.39 PM


I personally have not yet found the perfect nude for my skin tone, so if you have a suggestion please let me know! Until then, I either love bolder lips or a stained, natural look. For bolder lips I just tend to choose a darker formula for what my goal is. For example, if I want a bright pink look, I will choose a darker magenta rather than an actual hot pink. Similarly, for a classic red, I choose a shade that is one shade darker than a true red. Finding the perfect red is a major key for any bold makeup look. There is nothing that makes a smile pop more than the perfect shade of red lipstick, especially on tan skin. Reds are very multifunctional, too. For a natural stain that looks like I just devoured a bowl of berries, I apply the aforementioned red to the center of my lips and blend it outwards. All of the options listed below do their job, without looking completely out of the ordinary.

My Favorite Reds:

Sephora Rouge Cream Lipstick in Courtisane 02

NYX Matte Lipstick in Alabama

Pop of Pink:

MAC Lipstick in Rebel

Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten

Vampy Lip + Liner Duo:

MAC Lip Pencil in Nightmoth

MAC Lipstick in Cyber


If there is one thing that people can agree on, it is that Indian women have some fantastic brows, or at least a lot to work with. I prefer getting mine threaded rather than waxed, as I feel it preserves the arch better. I swear by one product for my brows, though. There is a high chance you have heard of it already, but that’s because it actually works really well. For natural looking brow definition, the Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencilis my go to. My shade of choice is Dark Brown.

No matter what look you choose to go with, there is one other thing to keep in mind: embrace all of the differences that make you who you are, whether it be the thickness of your hair or the hue of your skin. Don’t shy away from your beauty — enjoy it, experiment with it and love it.

Praj is a Bay Area raised Cali girl who has an obsession with inspirational quotes, big words, long novels, and strange facts. She loves to eat just as much as she loves documenting her food on social media, and fully accepts her role in today's ecosystem as a basic- but an intellectual basic (is what she tells herself). Praj can be found at parties and outings trying to entertain people with jokes and anecdotes that she thinks are funny, or at home, under her covers watching The Office with a cold, spicy cup of chai.

Photo credit: Praj Sirasao