The author gets up and close to leading beauticians to gather makeup tips to show off dusky skin to perfection

The bridal season is in full swing in Kerala and if there is one thing that stresses brides out the most, it’s looking good on their wedding day. And, until recently, many beauticians understood looking good as looking as ‘fair’ and lovely as possible. Tanishq may have celebrated the dusky skin in their ads; Nina Davuluri might have been crowned Ms. America but Kerala still tries to dust on layers of compact or foundation to cover up that glowing complexion that ranges from brown to deep chocolate.

No longer. As most of us are more like the dusky-skinned Bipasha Basus and Frieda Pintos of the world than the fair faced Aiswarya Rais and Kareena Kapoors, finding the right make-up to dazzle in the limelight can be a bit of an issue. Here’s how dusky-skinned brides can put their best face forward on the day of their wedding…

Solid Foundation

One of the biggest faux pas with regards to make-up, irrespective of skin complexion, is applying the wrong foundation. “As a rule, if the foundation is off colour the complexion will look chalky – or worse – patchy. People with dusky skin should take extra care when selecting foundation, especially if you are a bride and going under the arc lights,” says celebrity make-up artiste Shobha Kunjan, who runs Live N Style Beauty Parlour in Kochi. Shobha recommends using a foundation that is as close to the natural skin colour as possible. “The natural look is in,” she explains. Before the big day, brides should test the shade on their foreheads and underneath the eyes. “Ideally, the shade should blend into the skin colour. If in doubt, go for a slightly darker shade because it would cover flaws better than a lighter shade. Use a lighter shade for the cheeks and nose,” says beautician Jolly Jacob of Jolly’s Hollywood Salon, Kottayam. Dusky beauty Malavika Anderson, who just celebrated her first wedding anniversary, says: “Choosing the right foundation had always been a difficult one for me - the lighter shades are inevitably too light and the dark ones too dark, until I found one that works well with a touch of bronzer added to it. That way it’s also a combination of a liquid base and a powdery matte finish, which looks more natural.”

Once you’ve identified the foundation, prep the face by cleansing, toning, and moisturising. Then cover the face with primer. “A primer gives you a sort of a blank canvas to work upon. It helps the foundation glide on smoothly and also helps the make-up to stay on longer,” explains city-based Usha Koshy of Eves Beauty Parlour. For bridal make-up most beauticians still recommended using a pan stick on top of the primer. “For dusky skin choose a pan stick with yellow tints. Although it is a bit heavy on the face, it keeps the make-up intact for hours on end,” she adds.

Next up is dabbing the foundation. “Always apply the foundation with downward strokes of the brush,” says Usha. Then comes the process correcting “problem areas” such as the eyes and the chin and blemishes with a concealer (also in the same shade as the foundation). “Contour with a darker shade of concealer,” says Jolly.

Finally, dust compact or translucent powder to set the foundation.

Key aspect: Finish off with a blush. “Choose a complementary colour for the blush. Coral or deep orange is great on dusky skin,” says Shobha.

The Eyes have it

The eyes, the say, are one of the best features for people with dusky complexion. “It’s on the eyes that brides can play around with colour the most. Two-tone eye shadow works the best in such cases,” says Jolly. First off, even out the eye lids with a cream concealer. While warm eye shadow shades such as reds, burgundys, browns and bronzes are preferred for the base of the eye lid, make-up artistes recommend highlights of forest greens, deep purples, navy blues, tawny pinks, taupes and so on. “Take cues from the colour of the bridal saris or even jewellery. However, the colours should not be too contrasting,” says Usha. Blending the edges is also important as colours tend to stand out on dusky skin. “The current trend is for dramatic colours, either with winged tips or smoky edges. After the eye shadow has been applied, outline the upper lash line with jet-black gel eyeliner – jet-black because only it will stand up beneath the lights and gel because it lasts the longest. Add a thin layer of khol on the lower lash line. This will make the eyes stand out. Avoid oil-based kajal as it inevitably tends to spread. One of my tricks is to dust the edges of the eye and the brow bone with metallic gold or bronze shimmer. It instantly makes the eyes appear more luminescent, apart from adding a touch of elegance,” says Shobha. Curl the eyelashes with an eyelash curler and finish off the look with black mascara.

Key aspect: Don’t go overboard with the eye shadow.

Lucious Lips

Lips are the standout feature of when it comes to bridal make-up. “It’s thus important to match the colour to the outfit,” says Shobha. It’s also the first thing that fades as the hours drag by and so it’s important to use a product that is long-lasting, she says. Before applying lipstick, take the time to prime the lips with a lip primer, especially if you have dark lips. Otherwise, dab the lips with the same foundation that went on the face. “Outline the lips with a lip pencil as approximate to the chosen lip colour as possible and fill in with the same pencil. Apply a coat of the lipstick and pat it dry with a tissue and then apply one or two more coats. Invest in a lipstick of the long lasting variety such as those that models use for photo shoots,” says Jolly. Again, make-up artistes recommend avoiding pale colours such as light pinks, oranges and beiges as they will make dusky skin look unnaturally pale. Go in for plums, burgundys, browns, instead. Some dusky skin tones can carry off bright red as well.

Key aspect: Apply lip gloss to give the lips an extra oomph.