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A note on the issue: The new beauty contours

In our latest issue, we decrypt the puzzle that is the booming beauty business in India

Putting on one’s make-up isn’t routine; it’s art. Image via Istockphoto

By Shalini Umachandran

LAST PUBLISHED 24.02.2024  |  07:29 AM IST

For years, most Indian women used a few lines of kajal and eyeliner and added a dash of lipstick before they went out. That was the extent of their make-up routine. Now, though, putting on one’s make-up isn’t routine; it’s art. It is an art I have never been able to master and—much like I did as a child when my great-grandmother did her hair—I watch fascinated as friends stare into a mirror and carefully contour, pat, brush and dab to look just as lovely as they did before. 

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I have to admit that, for me, make-up is very much like cricket—baffling despite the hours I spend trying to understand why people obsess over it. And that’s why this week’s cover story is a particularly interesting read.

We try to decrypt the puzzle that is the booming beauty business in India. Everyone from Deepika Padukone to Masaba have established beauty brands, not just lending their names or funds to them but actually getting their fingers sticky, working out formulations and textures. When did we become so image conscious? Is it being fed a stream of perfect images on social media? Is it about confidence, as brands make us believe? Or is it an artful cover-up of insecurity? Based on people-watching and our story, I’d say it can be joyful and relaxing, making people feel like they’re spending time on themselves.

Beyond beauty, there’s more art in this issue: We’ve reproduced a lovely collection of photographs by Raghu Rai, courtesy Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, where he is showing his work from 1965 to 2005. You’ll find an essay by Sujoy Das, recently back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing peak in the world. He’s also shared his stunning photographs of extraordinary, larger-than-life landscapes. Our monthly world cinema column revisits the gritty 1970s’ crime film, The Harder They Come, that brings Jamaica and reggae to life far more realistically than the recent Bob Marley biopic One Love. And, you could bookmark all the songs in the column to create a lovely playlist—to add to the rest of the suggestions we have for how to spend your weekend.

Write to the editor at shalini.umachandran@htlive.com


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