Beauty products for desi skin

Disclaimer: You will not see anything in this post related to skin lightening. If that is what you seek, this post is not for you.

Hey hey brown skinned beauties! I'm writing this post from my own perspective as a brown skinned, Indian woman. Take what you want from it. I personally feel like there is a huge dearth of skincare and beauty tips for Indian women so I thought I'd share what I've learned from sheer experimentation. 

My skin type is mixed, oily but dry in some places. I am most certainly prone to acne. I have tried a whole bunch of products for my skin and can share my current skincare regimen along with my favorite products. 

First of all, I swear by jojoba oil. When in doubt, douse your face in it (but use sunscreen because sun + oil = a fried face). In the mornings I wash my face with the Murad vitamic C cleanser followed by Dr. Bronner's rinse. Pat dry, follow up with about three drops of jojoba oil. Three drops is my magic number, as in it moisturizes my face without making it too greasy. I follow up with a pretty basic Neutrogena oil free sunscreen, but I am on the lookout for a better one. This one feels too creamy and greasy, and I definitely don't need the added moisture after the jojoba. 

After that comes the make-up. I keep my daily make-up to a super minimal routine. I recently discovered the Urban Decay pore perfecting primer and OH MY GOD it has changed my life. I've gone from dabbing my face around noon to remove excess oil to marveling at my oil free face at 6pm. And the best thing is that you only need a tiny amount, it makes your face feel smooth and soft, you can wear it on its own with no make-up on top, it doesn't make your skin dry, it doesn't make me break out, and it has no scent. Okay, maybe that was more than "the best thing", but you surely should purchase a product with so many best things. 

Okay, done gushing. 

Following the primer I dab on some Tarte concealer (in Deep) where ever needed. The concealer is light and actually helps improve acne, win-win.

I do my eyes differently everyday. Sometimes I don't do anything. But usually I use an eyeliner (Maybelline Stiletto is a personal fave) and some mascara. Okay now I have to gush about a mascara.

Better than Sex mascara is seriously the best mascara ever. Even the name is enticing! I have tried a bunch of different mascaras and this one just knocks it out of the ballpark. Buy it, use it, love it. Sometimes I'll play around with eyeshadows. FYI I only use talc-free eyeshadows as I break out with any kind of talc usage on my face. Bare Minerals and Tarte both make talc-free eyeshadows. 

Top off with something on the lips if needed (balm, gloss, lipstick) and boom, done! With shower, the routine takes about 35 minutes end to end. With about 20 minutes spent relaxing in the shower.  

In the evenings I cleanse again with the Murad and then exfoliate with Clean and Clear. I follow that up with a jojoba oil dousing and some eye cream. I think any eye cream works, but I've had good experiences with Clinique and Korres. Apparently eye cream is a must to prevent and remedy wrinkles and bags. The eyes are probably the first to show the signs of aging, and it's an easy enough eye cream dab to do it every night, why not, right? 

I can't say my skin is perfect, but I'm thrilled with the speed and ease of my regimen and my satisfaction levels with my skin are pretty darn high too. Most of all, I'm quite pleased that I've found a solid set of skincare products that please me, my wallet, and my skin. So give them a shot, and I'd love to hear from you about any products you love! I'm especially on the lookout for good weekly facial or mask options. 


Nine West's 'Husband Hunting' campaign

I was walking through the Westfield mall in downtown San Francisco when I saw a marketing campaign in the Nine West window that showed a woman's foot clad in a leopard print high heel with the caption "Starter Husband Hunting". First of all, I don't know what "Starter Husband Hunting" means ... Starter? Finisher? What? If the reason for the word "Starter" in there is clear to anyone, please enlighten me. After getting over the confusion of what that meant, my range of emotions sped through disbelief, amusement, disappointment, anger, and conviction. 

Women all over the globe are louder than ever in empowering themselves. Beyonce blazes "Feminist" on the backdrop of her shows. Yet a multi million dollar shoe retailer seems painfully stuck in the past, glued to archaic gender norms. 

Here's a letter to the female CEO, Kathy Nedorostek-Kaswell. I hope she reads it. 

Dear Kathy,

My name is Anarghya Vardhana. I'm a 25 year old professional living in San Francisco. I've worked in the tech sector for the past 4 years, after graduating from Stanford University with honors. I met my husband at Stanford, but hardly "hunted" for him. We met each other in physics class, and found our relationship flourishing through common interests such as football, technology, travel, and a strong affinity for problem solving. 

I'm writing to you with regards to the "husband hunting" product campaign. You might have had nothing to do with it. Heck, the campaign might have launched without you even hearing about it. Here's my attempt at helping you hear so that you may take it down and such that you may avoid such demoralizing approaches to product marketing in the future. 

I was the only girl in all my honors math and science classes for a very long time. Once a boy told me that the only reason I got into Stanford was because of my gender ... let's just ignore the fact that I was minor celebrity in the international science fair scene and had a published math theorem by the time I was 16. 

I grew up with a large extended Indian family, and was told by many that I should spend a lot more time learning how to cook so that I could be a good wife someday. I've even had people tell me that I'm not "good wife material" because I'm too focused on my career. 

Women and girls are finally learning that it is OK to deviate from expected social norms. It is OK to focus on your career. You can still be a good wife, a good mother, a good female if you have interests that are different from what has been historically expected and in some cases, demanded. When we are making so much progress, it pains me to see Nine West take us 10 steps back in the fight towards professional and personal equality. 

This is my humble cease and desist request. It is too risky and too damaging to put something like this in front of millions of women across the country and world who will see this. Some of us will be appalled, but many more will glaze over it and suffer from its subliminal effects. 



Breaking the glass without breaking the soul

Breaking the glass ceiling involves so much more than a large bonus or VP title. I demand a retrospective look into what sacrifices and lifestyle changes a woman  makes in order to secure the promotion. Can we achieve the same level of eminence, if not more, without compromising that which makes us female? At the same time, can we still achieve success if we choose not to sell that which makes us female? As Mulan chopped off her hair and donned a manly costume, so we too face similar circumstances where we adjust, balance, and altercate who we are to climb up the ladder that eventually pushes us past the glass ceiling. Can we instead, shift our own lens as we view ourselves and the women around us, and encourage each other to break the ceiling as is -- flaws, heels, dresses, pants, whatever it may be -- unequivocally female, but just as unarguably capable of greatness.