Of makeovers and make up

For someone who drools unbecomingly when she turns to the beauty pages of any fashion magazine, my sense of make up is zilch. Yes, yes, despite the fact that the stash in the three drawers of my dressing table could suffice to do up the entire gaggle of models at a Fashion week, my sense of application is at best, geriatric, my tendency to experiment gone with my youth and wrinkle free skin, and my perfect face post make up is the stuff good memories are made off. Add to this the fact that I am really really blind as a bat without them lenses, and with the lenses in, close range application is at best hit and miss, you get the general drift of why make up is not my best skill. I like to think I make up in other departments, but the spouse might butt in here and disillusion me, so shall keep silent.

Anyway, in college days of fresh glowing skin and the insouciance to apply everything including colours from my water colour set onto my face and carry it off with panache, a lot of experimentation with colours happened. The most daring being painting my nails white and then living through a week of the right hand stained yellow with haldi. Yes, them chapattis need to be eaten by hand, right.

But yes, I was the sort of girl who never embodied fresh and natural. And putting my face on became de rigeur before I stepped out. Even had a friend who bitchily asked me if my then boyfriend and now husband had ever seen me without lipstick. Of course, I replied, the lipstick barely lasts ten minutes into us meeting up. Think that shut her up good.

But I digress, the point of this post being how addicted I am to make up and how absolutely hopeless at application. Inspired by a recent conversation with a peppy 19 year old who reminds me somewhat of how idealistic and happy I used to be before life happened.

I seized any opportunity that came my way to have them experts do the face. I figured I needed tips to get my act right. The first opportunity came during my stint with a news channel. I read the evening news, the 9 pm business slot. And was really bad big time. Give me a break, I was barely 21 at the time. The grizzled bear who applied the make up made me uniformly pink, and then slapped on some pink eyeshadow to match and gave me maroon lips. I should have been the hostess for business on The Sunset Boulevarde show, add some corset and wig, and a mini skirt.

I also remember needing to wash off the make up with a brillo pad before I dared step out of the studio to get home. These were ancient days when no home drops were made, you got home on your own steam, and I didnt want to confuse lustful folks into wondering whether I was open to business.

That channel packed up. And so did my short stint at anchoring. Got back to press. And meandered into soft features. The Saturday Times needed a willing victim for a make over by Mickey Contractor and guess who was selected for the job, yours truly, who landed at the venue shaking better than a St Vitus’s Dance patient. The man was damn good at his work, and he explained patiently what he was doing to my face. And he worked long and hard. And did wonderful things like contouring and shading and such like which I promptly forgot all about once the photographs were clicked and I emerged blinking dazedly in the bright light of day and a husband whose shocked expression was to die for.  Yup, I thought I rocked. But he walked into a chemist and got a pack of wet wipes to clean the muck from my face, so much for glamour.

Yes, I forget the wedding. The make up was finally done by the assistants of the beauty expert I’d hired and paid good money for, because she chose to have her baby the day before my wedding. Sort of set the tone for the rest of the marriage too. The bride of Frankenstein. The wedding photographs revealed the true extent of the horror. The child in recent times has been heard to ask of the wedding photograph laminated and kept lovingly on the mantelpiece, “Mamma, why you put white crayon on your face?” I rest my case.

Sometime later, another guinea pig was needed for another makeover to be done by Cory Walia who was then with Lakme, and yours truly was pushed to volunteer. Guess no one else wanted to make a right out fool of themselves and I was already one, and had nothing to lose. To Cory’s credit, he is a wonderful make up person, he finds individual features to compliment and makes you feel truly beautiful, which makes you feel beautiful once the make up is done. I emerged so swollen headed from that session that I needed my mother and her trite comments to bring me down to earth, which she did successfully the next she saw me. On an aside, why is a daughter never ever looking good enough for a mother to appreciate her? I guess, had I been a beauty queen, the mother would have told me I had my tiara on crooked, and why was I sitting with my back rounded, and didnt I brush my teeth before coming to the stage. Coming back to Cory, he gave me a look that withstood harsh daylight, was light and fresh and worked. I didnt look made up, I just looked fresher and different. The trick, he said, was concealer and the right shade of powder compact. Tips from the man, dont use a colour lighter than your skin tone, you’ll look like Krishna of the mythological serials. Since had been that route for the wedding, was in no hurry to go there again. And use sunblock. Carry an umbrella or wear a hat. Stay out of the sun. I follow that religiously, even to the point of paranoia. I slather on sunblock on a cloudy day.

The last time I ever got done up professionally was when Lippi Lal, then of Chambor, did me up for a demo. She gave me a party look, which looked glamourous and slinky feline and was all purples and lilacs, a colour route I had never been down before. It looked good, but the husband was all sceptical. Its too much and too in your face, he says. You look better a little toned down. Hmmppph. Me thinks it was just insecurity given that strange men were staring at me wonderingly.

The most recent episode at professional make up was during a recent television appearance. Barely there eyeliner, with slight highlighter on the eyes, natural blush on the apples of the cheeks and a hint of pinkish gloss. And I was done. And it actually worked. Have never dared try it again, makes me insecure to be so bare…

My everyday routine is Lacto Calamine (yes, yes, I am that ancient, but it is a habit I cant get rid of), a powder compact on top of said Calamine to blot the oil oozing out of every pore, a liquid liner on the upper eyelid, and if I am in party mode, some gold liner or shadow too, an indeterminate pink or nude lipstick or lipgloss and I am done. On a rushed day, no eyeliner, but deep lipstick to make up for the lack of drama on the eyes. Standard look. No surprises. No mascara. No blush. No bronzer. No highlighter. I have them all, piled in my dressing table, acting as breeding grounds for bacteria and fungus.  I think I have found my look and am sticking to it. Unless someone shows me a better look or some miracle product that works for me. Any recommendations? Any miracle product you girls swear by? Any colour you think I must buy now or live to regret for the rest of my life? Any application tricks that an old horse could try to hold the years off?

Whats your make up routine like?


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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25 Responses to Of makeovers and make up

  1. can’t survive without the lipstick
    which sunblock do u use?


  2. Kiran Manral says:

    Itchy: Neutrogena SPF 50.


  3. i have no routine.
    its moisturiser full stop. on a high make up day its moisturiser plus an eye pencil that i use like an eye liner(thats coz a- i use eye liners so rarely that my hand shakes when i apply the liquid liner giving me the jazzy zigzag effect thats sooo not in fashion!:P and b- if the eye pencil wears off, as it always does, it doesnt smudge or anything. it just fades away-black to dark grey to grey to all gone!

    i have had yellow nails too! if u use one of those silver bordering on white (or neutral or watever it is that they call it) and u eat aaloo ki sabzi, u get half ur nail yellow and half white.i cudnt stand the nails n removed the polish asap.


  4. Mona says:

    haha, routine?
    if i can get my contacts in the right eyes, and walk out the door every morning, i’m grateful.
    once i quit though, i will start using moisturizer. i really will. also, bought eye pencil and have my old fave lip gloss ready for next week onwards!


  5. sneha says:

    I am literally ROTFL! My makeup routine used to be lots of Ponds talcum powder till 12th class!! Generous relatives from Amrika used to send boxes and boxes of dark pink lipsticks, nail polishes and purple and silver eyeshadows. And the sister and I, used to try them at home, hoping to practice well and then wear it outside and showoff. But I always looked like Rohini Hattangadi when Sridevi does her up in Chaalbaaz. So I just stuck to the harmless Ponds talc.

    Till college happened, and a good friend showed me the smoky look with kajal. I don’t know how much I picked up from her, but I still I swear by it! Funny that in office ppl keep telling me – babes, you’re getting serious dark circles. I’m tired of having to explain to them for the 10000000th time – ITS THE SMOKY LOOK PEOPLE!!!

    Oh and my nails – I cut them Sunday to Sunday. I tried growing them, but I end up waking up looking like a ghayal Sainik with scratchy wounds in the morning.

    I hope you dont get a heart attack!



  6. kbpm says:

    St. Vitus Dance is a disease? Not a dance?


  7. 30in2005 says:

    Exfoliate once a week with besan and milk.

    Daily, wash with warm water, moisturise with Olay, apply kajal to the lower line of my eyes and a dab of lipgloss.

    If its an occasion, eyeliner on top and a bit of eye shadow and maybe a brighter lipstick.

    And always always a smile.


  8. Samantha says:

    OK, First off, if your picture is that at the top of the screen: YOUR BEAUTIFUL! So, what you are doing must be ok.

    Second of all, I am like you… I have no sense of what it is to be “in style” so to speak… So I go with very very natural look. I guess you just have to find what looks good on you, depending on your hair, eye, and skin colors.

    I have to agree with the other ladies here, ALWAYS us moisturizer and I exfoliate my skin with Burt’s Bee’s peach and willow bark deep pore scrub. It’s a little expensive but I let myself slurp on one thing!
    Good luck!


  9. Suki says:

    Too sleepy for a detailed reply, but I think that’s still quite a lot of knowledge about makeup 😛


  10. DotThoughts says:

    Lady K, you are so beautiful, are you really asking hags like me for a tip? really? But have you tried mineral based makeup? Its amazing at diminishing lines and imperfections. Goes on incredible light (even in the mumbai heat) and stays put. Lots of companies make that now. I use maybelline simly because its cheap and not less better than the pricey brands. Otherwise my daily routine is mineral foundation, lipstick/gloss depending on season. In colder months when the skin turns pale I do bronzer. Party time eyeshadow, liner and mascara. And evening primrose body shop face mask every week. I have to try lacto-calamine.


  11. Anamika says:

    Recently got a moisturiser from Mary Kay that’s 3-in-1…moisturiser, SPF 20 (or 25) and lightweight foundation. Just dot your face, gently rub it in and you are done. I love it. Bobbi Brown tinted moisturiser is something a friend swears by but I have yet to try that.
    For the lips, lipstick or gloss for evenings. During normal work days, its plain old Vaseline petroleum jelly 😀

    Eyes, I just started wearing eyeliner and have been asked twice if I was crying before I stepped out. So with you there…still learning to apply properly.


  12. i love lucy says:

    I swear by Bare Minerals too.Considering that I have terrible acne-ridden skin,minerals based foundation has proven to be quite the blessing.I use Clean & Clear moisturizer all the time and it totally works for me and my skin.
    I am really bad at the eye-liner thingy what with unsteady hands and inability to get a decent curve right.
    Lipstick/lipgloss is a must which is of course substituted quite often with chap stick thanks to the bad weather here.


  13. dipali says:

    Came by to say Hi, have read your post! As I have zilch to contribute!
    I sometimes use an eyepencil, lipper, and bronzer. But so sometimes that I still have stuff in the first ever compact hubby bought me, about 29 years ago, One lipper gets used, the rest lie around melting.
    But in college I’d even used felt pen as eye-liner, and wasn’t bad at stage make-up.


  14. booboosmamma says:

    I was never too big into makeup but during my collage days. I had a collegue in bangalore who had the skill of applying makeup perfectly and i picked up a few tips from her.
    Always moisturise your face and nothing can beat johnson’s baby moisturiser. let the moisturiser soak in and then apply compact or foundation which matches your skin tone. a good quality eyeline and eyeliner / kajal on lower eye lid. Always use a lip liner to define lips and the color should be the closest to the lipstick / lipliner to be used.


  15. Kiran Manral says:

    Mandira: Have perfected the eyeliner thing just recently. After like two decades of practice. Says a lot for my make up skills. And still some days get one eye thick and one eye thin, and then end up going the Amy Winehouse way to even things up.

    Mona: Thats the arrogance that comes from being naturally gorgeous. Us weedy types need to slather on the face paint.

    Sneha: I hear you sister. I once used an orange lipstick through college just because foreign returned uncle gifted it to me, and it was Mary Quant. I looked like a gibbon.

    kbpm: Unfortunately yes. A neurological disease characterised by uncontrollable muscle movements.

    30in2005: Oil Of Olay used to be a favourite, somehow moved onto other things, will go right back. Its really good. And yes, a smile is the best beauty aid one can use.

    Samantha: Thanks. I just photograph well. Am pretty regular. Yup. Once a week masks and exfoliation is a must here too.

    Suki: Darling, you inspired this post.

    Dotty: You flatter me. Am tres ordinary, just photograph well in this particular shot. Lacto Calamine is something thats like washing my hair everyday and brushing my teeth. Been using it everyday since I was in school. Have bath. Slather face with Lacto Calamine. Derms tell me its good for SPF and oil control.
    Must check out mineral based make up too. I seem to be stuck in the dark ages as far as make up is concerned. Everytime I go to the mall, the brat is surgically attached to me and can never stand peacably next to a make up counter.

    Anamika: Mary Kay, huh? Must figure out where I can get this in India. Sounds interesting. Have that problem with kohl pencil, makes black rivulets under my eyes.

    I Love Lucy: Must try this bare minerals. Clean and Clear is good. Tried it once when sudden outcrop of pimples happened…

    Dipali: Brill. Felt pen as eyeliner. Thats why I adore you!!!


  16. Priyanka says:

    Till about a month ago, compact, gloss and kajal and I was done. Till I visited Delhi.
    Everyone there seems to have great complexion and skin. What is it, some kind of food they eat or the cosmetics? Got a huge complex and started to experiment with foundation but am ending up looking like I am ready for a classical dance recital. Will definitely try this mineral makeup that people are mentioning here 🙂


  17. Ritu says:

    Well, ladies here seem to know a lot about make up …. I normally forget to use even a simple lipstick. Its just cold cream in the night – Ponds, and a moisturiser in the day, that is all. It helps that I am the indoors sort and never go out during the day if I can help it.


  18. NainaAshley says:

    I am terrible at this make up thing. Not that I haven’t tried but while I’m actually going for elegant I always end up with a wicked witch look. That’s the level of my make up skills. I have very unsteady hands so I’ve given up on the liner long ago. I could never find the right shade of foundation to go with my darker skin, so I always ended up looking like I forgot to wask the face pack. Recently I discovered a Mary Kay foundation that goes well with my skin. So I plan on sticking to that. That foundation lipstick and gloss is what I wear for parties. For everyday use, its just oil of olay moisturizer.


  19. sukanya says:

    You are funny and ofcourse you write beautifully. Have been reading your blog for a while now. Had to comment on this one.

    When it comes to make up- I am loser! Your wedding make up reminded me of my own, the most important day of my life and how screwed up I looked with all that make up! I really look liked Krishna, as you say. I dither when I look at those pictures!

    Garnier’s skin renewing (yeah, age is truly catching up!)lotion is wonderful. I started using it a few months ago and now I just cannot live without it. It is light, non-greasy and really makes your skin soft and fresh. You can use it before you use Lacto Calamine (good for you!). And I use mositurizers with SPF’s-dont need to worry about putting sun block seperately.


  20. dipali says:

    It helped that my brother was in firang-land!
    Anything crazy could be firang, no?


  21. Mea Culpa says:

    Doesn’t lacto calamine cause ones skin to become paper thin over a period of time? I thought the stuff was universally shunned since the 90s after some research reports.


  22. Kiran Manral says:

    Priyanka: Really Delhiites have skin apart dont there. I feel miserable when I go there too, they are all so gorgeous. Let me know where you get your hands on that Mineral makeup, and what the brand name is, checked the Maybelline counter they had nothing in minerals. Loreal did, and I’m wondering if thats what Dottie meant.

    Ritu: You have half the battle won, no sun. Here I am in the sun for almost the entire day. Albeit in the car, but still out.

    Naina: Oil of Olay seems to be a universal favourite. Unfortunately have no clue of where I can get my hands on Mary Kay products in India or else would try them out. I believe they have their direct marketing network here too, but no one I know.

    Sukanya: Must ry out Garnier’s lotion since you recommend it so highly and thanks for delurking.

    Dipali: True. Firangi influence.

    Mea Culpa: Dont know about that though. I have been using Lacto Calamine since I was barely 13 or 14 and the skin is a rhino’s hide. And every dermat I have spoken to has endorsed it, and believe you me I have met the best of them in my profession as a features writer. So, no fear yet.


  23. chandni says:

    good lord! I am the opposite….please to be reading the lastest post


  24. Sangeeta says:

    I swear on Oil of Olay Regenerist moisturiser. A light dusting of compact, liquid liner on upper lids all year long, except summer when it is a kajal stick and lipgloss … ready in less than 10 minutes 🙂


  25. trupti says:


    Came to say a hello….all your blogs make a good read! I love Lacto-calamine lotion when I have a couple of breakouts…its a good ol’ standby for me!
    Will be back to read more. Do drop by my neck of the woods sometime!

    Cheers, Trupti
    The Spice Who Loved Me


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