The moment Pallavi Arora saw actor Kiara Advani’s wedding photographs on Instagram last week, she knew the lipstick shade she would wear on her big day in September. “Nude! I know my mom will not be happy to hear this but I am going to keep the whole thing (her make-up) as natural as possible,” says the 38-year-old Lucknow resident, who’s still deciding between a baby pink lehnga and a beige sari for her wedding. If you notice, she says in a WhatsApp video call, most celebrity weddings now have everyone in subtle colours.
“Those days of wearing heavy, bright colours are so over, especially with make-up. And if Bollywood stars are now comfortable showing their skin, why not us? It’s bold and chic,” she says.
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Arora’s observation is based largely on what she sees on Instagram and the people she meets through her profession, marketing in the luxury sector. The desire for the no make-up make-up—a glam look that’s so minimal that it lets the natural skin shine—is very 2021 but its entry into the Indian bridal room is more recent.
Indian weddings are known for their grandeur, from decoration to food and clothes. But when Alia Bhatt shared her wedding pictures last year wearing lit-from-within make-up, something Katrina Kaif also opted for on her big day, it sent the message that glass skin was not just for the catwalk or sidewalk. Celebrities Athiya Shetty and Advani have added their stamp of approval with their recent weddings.
“The bare make-up look was always more popular on the international runway. And then you would see bare-faced actors on the streets, running errands. Make-up was never such a thing internationally; it was restricted to certain occasions,” says Ami Patel, the stylist for actors such as Bhatt, Kaif and Ranveer Singh. “In India, however, the change has happened very recently. And now with more Bollywood brides going almost nude on their face on the wedding day…it shows that minimalism is not just a passing trend.” She shares something make-up artist Mickey Contractor told her recently: “He said to me, ‘Ami, five years ago people used to demand more make-up on their faces for their weddings. Today, they want kam se kam (as little as possible) make-up.”
Since the pandemic started, there has been a slight shift in the way people look at beauty. Slight because social media continues to be filled with people offering tutorials on how to use layers and layers of make-up to get flawless yet natural-looking skin. Beauty brands still sell “fairness” creams . And a musician in her 60s is still being trolled in a society that doesn’t allow women to age.
But more people are becoming comfortable with the idea of flaunting their skin without too much make-up, a belief rooted in skinmalism, which maintains you don’t have to go overboard to look stunning.
The film industry, of course, has a big role to play in making glass skin a trend for brides. If you search for #kiaraadvanilooks on Instagram right now, you will get over 1,000 Reels recreating her wedding look. “Social media has a role to play in creating any trend but when you have a big personality following a trend, it becomes even bigger,” says Asha Hariharan, education director at Enrich Salon. “That’s why we have more clients coming to us for skin-enhancing treatments.”
Beauty brands, too, are noticing the shift and offering products that blur the line between skincare and make-up. Last year, Hermès launched the Plein Air line of complexion enhancers that claim to nourish and illuminate the natural skin. Merit has a lip tint-lip oil hybrid. Maybelline New York has skin tints that come infused with SPF 50.
“Two things are happening simultaneously: People are focusing more on keeping their skin healthy so that it doesn’t need more make-up, and it gives them the confidence to show themselves as naturally as possible,” explains Hariharan.
While consumers are aware that a healthy way to achieve glowing, supple skin is a healthy lifestyle, some are ready to seek the help of fillers and injectables.
Arora, for instance, is considering some collagen-boosting injectables (collagen produced by the body maintains skin elasticity; its production reduces with age) and hydrating facials. “I want something that makes me look healthy,” she says. “And I will get some of that from a healthy diet and some from the doctor.”
The desire for flawless skin is not new. “The shift is that people want flawless skin naturally as well and there’s technology that can help you give that extra push, which wasn’t the case, say, five years ago,” says Kashish Kalra, head of dermatology at the Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi and owner of Dr Kalra’s Skin Clinic.
Over six months, Dr Kalra has seen a steady rise in the number of people at his clinic requesting more hydrated-looking skin. His clinic offers fillers and treatments, including hydra facials, that cost ₹5,000-30,000 a session. “People are more aware about treatments and have the spending power. So that’s another reason for the increase in demand,” he says.
Hariharan has also been noticing the trend across the 82 Enrich branches in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Surat and Indore. Of 10 clients in a day, eight request a treatment that gives them glassy skin.
“Glass skin has nothing to do with fairness,” says Hariharan. “It means removal of dead skin so that the top layer becomes almost transparent, like glass.” Some of the brightening treatments at Enrich include Skin Rebuild ( ₹5,400), Glow Getter ( ₹5,800) and MNRF Skin Smoothening ( ₹18,000).
“Many of them are pre-bridal clients. Then you have people who want it for better pictures for social media,” explains Hariharan, adding that clients are aged 20-40. “The younger ones are also looking for slight brow lifts or some work around the lips. In the past year, people are moving towards subtle changes instead of, say, those bee-stung lips.”
Geetika Mittal Gupta, aesthetic physician and founder of the Isaac Luxe skin clinic, which has a presence in Delhi and Mumbai, adds that people are no longer waiting for special occasions to get skin-enhancing treatments. “A well-hydrated skin doesn’t need too much make-up to begin with,” she says. In the past six months, she has seen a 20% rise in demand for such treatments.
“People are not going over the top with Botox or fillers. They want a small lift here and there because they don’t want to tell the world that they got something done to their face,” Dr Kalra says. “Everything is now about enhancing your natural features.”
That’s why Arora has decided to get two sessions of a skin-hydrating treatment for ₹20,000. “If it means getting a glowing skin without too much make-up, it’s not a bad deal,” she says. “The idea is to look barefaced but flawless. So what if it means using some chemicals?”
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