This year at one of the most prestigious film festivals and red carpets of the world, Cannes Film Festival, India was the “country of honour”, which meant more India presence from the arts industry. Along with regulars like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, many digital creators made their debut on the red carpet. One of them was Malvika Sitlani Aryan, among the few Indian beauty influencers to have walked the carpet as part of L’Oreal’s beauty brigade. Besides having a whopping 551,000 following on Instagram, she is also the CEO of her brand Masic Beauty.
In an interview with Lounge, Sitlani Aryan talks about what “real beauty” means in the age of Instagram filters, persisting gaps in the Indian beauty industry and her Cannes debut. Edited excerpts:
Cannes and every other major red-carpet event, including the Met Gala, is opening up its guest list more to content creators. What does this mean for the content creator industry?
Cannes was definitely a step ahead for India as a country and the content creator industry. It really gives hope to the upcoming content creators that this career can allow people to showcase their talent to the world. There are so many unique creators that the world is yet to see and these are the kinds of exposure that are needed for artists to grow.
As more marketing shifts to Instagram, brands are actively using the power of content creators to lead their promotions as opposed to Bollywood celebrities earlier. What is the reason behind the shift?
Social media creators are much more accessible on their platforms. We engage and communicate with our audience on a daily basis, by doing a Q&A or responding to comments directly. The brands now understand that we also bring value and authenticity to the table. It’s not just a “massive following” but it’s also high engagement.
Instagram is inundated with 'beauty' filters. What do you think is the definition of 'real beauty' now?
Beauty goes far beyond flawless skin, great hair or any other preconceived notions of what looking beautiful entails. I am extremely candid on my social media about my blemishes, textured hair or weight gain. Real beauty to me is authenticity. Be true to yourself and share your unique, wonderful self with the world. That's what is and should be appreciated.
What is your advice for people just getting acquainted with makeup? What’s a good place to start?
If you’ve never used makeup before, it can be quite intimidating given the number of products out there in the market, but I think creating an "essential makeup kit" is a good start. You don’t need heaps of makeup, you just need the basics: base, liner, blush and a few lipsticks. You must understand your face shape and watch a tonne of YouTube videos, and yes, keep practising, because that’s what I did.
Your job requires you to wear makeup most of the time. When you're not working, how do you take care of your skin?
I’ve had past experiences of skin fatigue or my skin reacting to new products, but that is a part of my job. So, I just let my skin breathe free every few days. I follow a simple skincare regime and keep my skin hydrated. I use a lot of moisturizers and face oils that have my favourite ingredient, squalane.
There's an overload of information on skincare and makeup on the internet. How do you suggest people can go about finding what's right for them?
Follow creators you can relate with and can eventually trust with product recommendations. Also, finding someone who has a similar skin type and tone to yours helps a lot. Having said that, skincare and makeup are super subjective; what works for one, might not work for you. So, always do a patch test before trying a new product.
The Indian beauty industry has come a long way but do you still see any gaps in the space?
As the founder of a brand, I can say that we need more inclusivity in shades, we need more vegan, cruelty free and, most importantly, “clean” products in the market. But we don’t have easy access to them. A lot of new brands typically struggle with creating unique products, whether it has to do with formulation or packaging because of shortage of ingredients and variety. It’s also very capital intensive to import packaging all the way from China or Taiwan. India is one of the top leading countries in the beauty space, and we need help with accessibility to create a memorable brand for the audience.
What do you like to do on your down days?
I like creating a cosy environment in my home by lighting candles, changing into comfortable clothes and watching movies or reading a book. I also love hanging out with my family and my friends.