By HIBBA MAHMUD
March 22, 2018
“From a beauty perspective, having the wrong shade of foundation can be detrimental to your look. Having a visibly lighter foundation makes the person appear ashy and grey, whereas a darker foundation makes a person look blotchy and like an oompa-loompa.”
I was visiting Lahore this winter break and I had to do some makeup shopping for my cousin’s wedding. I was excited to go purchase makeup and take my family along to give them consultations.
We went to a well known super-store, Al-Fatha, which is like the Pakistani crossbreed between Macy’s and Walmart. They had a large makeup collection featuring luxury brands as well as drugstore brands all imported from the United States and Europe.
I was in my own Pakistani version of Sephora and of course, I was like a child in a candy store. Soon, my excitement turned into disbelief and frankly, disappointment as I began to notice the merchandise.
There was approximately only two to three shades offered of foundation in each brand and they were all the lightest shades.
Now, Pakistan is a nation of approximately 200 million people; there is no way possible that 3 shades can fit the complexion of the general (brown) public.
I was confused as I noticed the store associate recommend the shade named “PORCELAIN/IVORY” for my cousin who is considered “medium honey,” according to American standards.
When I asked the store associate why she recommended that, she said lighter shades look better on tan skin and the color is an exact match. I then asked a customer, who had the skin tone of Priyanka Chopra, as to why she was also selecting the lighter shade.
“I want to look light,” she said. “Light skin looks good”.
From a beauty perspective, having the wrong shade of foundation can be detrimental to your look. Having a visibly lighter foundation makes the person appear ashy and grey, whereas a darker foundation makes a person look blotchy and like an oompa-loompa.
There is no benefit to purchasing a foundation five shades lighter, as it will turn you gray as opposed to the ethereal glow one is trying to achieve. Frankly, it just looks bad and very noticeable.
It doesn’t make you look any lighter and it emphasizes the fact that your foundation is the wrong skin tone!
There is a deeper issue beyond the cosmetic error in choosing a lighter foundation. It is colorism and this idea that “White Skin is the Right Skin”.
South Asian beauty standards are notorious for promoting lighter skin and features as beautiful, all while scrutinizing darker skin and complexions.
The white standard of beauty is a million dollar industry where companies profit on the insecurities of women and the racist standards of beauty.
Fair and Lovely, a skin lightening cream (that doesn’t work) amongst other creams, is used by millions of girls trying to achieve the look of lighter and more “beautiful” skin.
Although there have been numerous movements and campaigns, such as “Unfair and Lovely” (http://www.self.com/story/the-unfair-and-lovely-campaign-is-embracing-darker-skin-tones) promoting the beauty in all skin tones, they still haven’t been able to erase the internalized mentality of white beauty that is ingrained amongst Pakistani youth.
What bothered me the most about this was that this was in what is considered an “elite” store with rich and supposedly educated clientele. You would assume that they would be opposed to this backwards rhetoric but it is still prevalent and promoted.
It made me realize that even in the film industry, the lighter skinned actresses are praised for their beauty and often play beautiful, angelic characters, whereas the tanner or deeper skinned actresses are rarely famous and rarely ever have a role beyond comedic purposes.
So what can we attribute to these standards? Colonization? Imperialism? Classism? Perhaps people want to look lighter to resemble the British who came into South Asia and massacred it? Or perhaps they want to look lighter because it shows that they are wealthier as they don’t need to work in the sun?
This is a nationwide epidemic which affects the lives of so many young girls feeling insecure and unattractive because they have tanner skin and often take dangerous methods to counter that which is rarely effective. This is internalized RACISM camouflaged in superficial beauty.
Whatever it is, it is stupid, dumb and it doesn’t make a person look more attractive.
Ladies, please. You are all beautiful in your own skin tones, so do me a favor and pick the right one. Don’t give in to these standards and appreciate your natural beauty.
Here are some tips for choosing your right foundation color:
1) Notice your undertones. Do you have pink or yellow undertones? Are you warm or cool?
2) Don’t test the foundation on your wrist! Test it on your lower cheek connecting to the jawbone as that is your truest and most accurate color.
3) Make sure you blend the product down to the neck as well, so your whole body is an even skin tone.
4) Try to see the foundation in natural lighting as that is the best lighting to see makeup in its clearest