The Indian culture has long been a fascination of mine. Everything from the bright colors, intricate saris, wonderful spices (I may or may not have a strong addiction to curry), Bollywood and dance to the Indian people’s love of cows (they are viewed as a symbol of non-violence) and elephants (a symbol of luck, prosperity and joy). Beauty is seen as both outward and inward in the Indian culture, meaning one can be beautiful on the outside, but if he or she does not practice goodness on the inside, the outer beauty is thwarted. I love that beauty is seen as more of a spiritual quality than a physical one, but of course makeup can play a big role in expressing inner beauty.
I’ve had the privilege of working with a handful of Indian brides and each time I do, I am so excited not only to see how the bride wants her makeup done, but also to witness the tradition that comes along with it. The saying the “eyes are the window to the soul” holds such truth with Indian culture. The weddings I have worked always focus on the eye makeup. The actual shadow colors tend to be in neutral golds, and shimmery bronzes but the drama comes from the liner. Kajal (Kohl) liner is an ancient tradition in Indian beauty. It is applied around the edges of the eyes. Kajal cools the eyes and it is believed that it protects the eyes from the sun. Some women also add a dot of kajal on the left side of the foreheads or on the waterline of the eye to protect them from 'buri nazar.’ 'Buri nazar' literally means 'bad glance' and is comparable to the evil eye. I love bringing emphasis to the eyes using kohl liner. I add it to the upper and lower lash lines, and the water line (tight-lining) which gives a great sharp and sultry effect. I also love playing up the cheek color. The rich caramel undertone of many Indian women’s skin is the perfect palette for bright colors. I love using guava and plumeria Cream Blushes on my Indian brides. The brightness and pop of color added to the complexion is jaw dropping-ly gorgeous.
The other part of Indian tradition that I love is the jewelry starting with the bindi. Traditionally, the area between the eyebrows (where the bindi is placed) is said to be the sixth chakra, ajna, the seat of "concealed wisdom." The bindi is said to retain energy and strengthen concentration. It is also said to protect against demons or bad luck. The bindi also represents the third eye. Followed by the maang teeka (a hair accessory worn down the center part of the head) the nath (nose ring), bajuband (armlets), choodiyan (bangles), bichiya (toe rings) karmarband (waste band), and haar (necklace) all sitting on top of a red sari shows such a decadent form of beauty and tradition.
The world of bridal beauty in Indian culture is just the beginning! Bollywood and dance are also huge when it comes to beauty trends rooted in tradition. I think one of my favorite movies from Bollywood is from the ’70s. It is called Sholay (if you are in an adventurous movie watching mood, I recommend it!) In it, the Holi festival is highlighted. Holi is a spring festival which traditionally celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The main day of this Hindu celebration is celebrated by both the rich and poor as a time to come together and exchange goodwill toward one another. The way this is done is the best part! Days before the celebration, the markets are flooded with a vast array of differently-colored powders. These powders are mixed with water, put in spray bottles, water balloons or are left as is and smeared onto participants’ faces, clothes and hair. If ever I need some inspiration as an artist, I check out pictures from the festival. The colors are so bright and vibrant they always get me excited to go do make up!
I hope you enjoyed your first beauty passport. Incorporate this into your everyday beauty routine by focusing on your eyes. Make them inviting by lining the inner rim with black liner. Use as much color as you want while keeping it balanced and draw inspiration from Holi by looking for bright purples (Cream Blush in plumeria) and rich teals (Eye Shadow in mermaid ) to channel a fun, colorful look that welcomes goodwill!
- Kate McCarthy