As children and even as teenagers, we possess this idea that things will get better as we get older. When I was younger, I was never appeased by my appearance, and as a result, I spent the energy I could’ve used to love myself to instead, tell myself that all those things would change as soon as I got older. Looking back, I realize that it was foolish: I truly believed that as soon as I hit 20, my nose would get thinner, my jawline would automatically sharpen, my personality would improve by 34%, and my hair would go from a bird’s nest to Pantene-perfect, like in the commercials.
Perhaps that’s why when I hit 19 and suddenly had a constellation of zits across my cheeks, chin, and forehead… I was shook.
The first time I noticed my breakouts, I refused to accept them. I didn’t know what to do because as a result of my prior beliefs, I wasn’t supposed to break out anymore as a “real” adult. Now was my time to have clear skin, flip my hair in boys’ faces, and take good selfies. So why was this happening to me?!
Although I frequently noticed acne on other college students’ faces, I never thought much of it. To me, it was a fact of life and wasn’t a big deal…until it happened to me, and suddenly, acne was the most undesirable thing in the world. This led me to become unreasonably insecure; I went from being loud and outspoken to a little less loud and outspoken because I told myself stupid things like, “If you’re cute and loud, then you’re fun, but if you’re ‘ugly’ and loud, you’re annoying.” I used this kind of negative self-talk to hurt myself, and consequently became less confident in my appearance, and thus, myself.
Perhaps the worst part of it all was that I started comparing myself to others and started labeling my worth according to how “good” I looked (how clear my skin was). For example, depending on how my skin looked, I could have a good day or a bad day. I felt so self-conscious when I talked to others because I was afraid that they were staring at my acne when they were not. I always felt ugly and lesser of a person, and it showed in the way I talked about myself and how I felt. It even showed in the way I behaved with others, and sometimes I even let it prevent me from leaving my house. To a common person, this seems outrageous, but those with acne truly understand the pain and the control adult acne can take over.
Social media never helped either. In a world where skin correcting apps like Facetune and filters are the norm, it can be especially hard to love the skin you’re in. Every time I logged on to Instagram, I found myself digging myself into a deeper hole of self-pity and insecurity. It wasn’t until I saw a Youtube tutorial of an Instagram influencer showing viewers how to edit their photos to rectify their skin to perfection did I have a moment of realization that Hannah Montana was always right: Nobody’s perfect.
Another frustrating thing about acne was that even though it affects everyone, no one ever accepted it as a fact of life. Instead, it is treated as something absolutely disgusting. Have you ever noticed that the only time we discuss acne in society is when we want to find ways to get rid of it? The hardest thing about acne is that you always feel like you’re the only one when the opposite is true. Even though acne is the most common skin condition in the world and according to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 54 percent of women older than age 25 have some facial acne, it’s still seen as something obsolete and irregular.
So if you’re dealing with adult acne, I promise you’re not the only one. Almost everyone has or has had acne in some shape or form, but the trick is that you need to stop living in fear and not worry about it too much. Obviously, if it’s painful or unwanted you should consult a dermatologist and try the creams, ointments, pills, facials, home remedies, and washes — but know that what works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s totally okay. Everyone heals at their own pace.
Some may misconstrue my message and argue that sometimes acne can be your body’s indicator of a deeper problem, so one shouldn’t disregard it by “accepting it.” Obviously, you should take care of yourself and eat right, drink water, and wash your makeup off before bed every night, but don’t make acne the reason why you do that. Do it anyway and know that despite it, acne may still be a possibility.
We all are insecure and struggling with something, somewhere, but we won’t be able to normalize it if we don’t talk about it and hide behind the Snapchat dog filter. So I’m going to say it out loud: I have acne. And not just on my face. I have acne and acne scars on my neck. On my back. On my shoulder blades. And anyone who’s ever had acne there or anywhere will tell you that it sucks and hurts physically and emotionally, and it makes you feel ugly and undesirable. And I want to be able to say that out loud without someone offering me a face mask recipe or feeling bad for me because acne is normal and stressing about it will cause more pain since stress, anxiety, and hormone imbalance can all lead to acne.
It’s normal to want to have smooth and clear skin, but know that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. As someone who has very recently tried to accept adult acne and still struggles to do so, I can assure you that the path to acceptance is riddled with highs and lows. Some days I accept my skin and can flaunt it bare, and other days I cry and cuddle my cat because everyone and their mom have clear skin except me. The journey to self-acceptance is not easy or smooth, so it’s a good thing you’re not used to smooth things, right?!
If I DM my friends a bunch of videos on any given day, one of them is almost always an Ankush Bahuguna reel. When I first stumbled upon his content, I saw him as an actor and a comedian, lifting our mood up during the lockdown one video at a time. However, his day-to-day content is more than just that — Bahuguna is changing the landscape of the beauty industry by making (and holding) space for men who aspire to be makeup artists and who have a passion for all things beauty.
Content creator, makeup enthusiast, actor: Which title do you resonate with the most? And, why?
A creator is the word I’d resonate with the most — that’s what got me here — creating comedy, creating beauty content. Even as an actor, I’m very collaborative. I tend to weave nuances around a character and make it my own. I believe, no matter what you do, your work should be unique to you and that can only happen when you build it up yourself.
How did “Wing it with Ankush” come about?
Till three years ago, I used to work for a media house that had a whole team of stylists and MUAs working on every shoot. So when the world went into lockdown, I realized I would have to don all those hats myself. I used to [regularly] shoot videos with my mother and she didn’t know anything about makeup either. So I had to try my hand at it — I would do her makeup and we’d shoot videos together. Soon I realized how much I enjoyed learning a new skill from scratch. I used to paint as a kid, so makeup just somehow made sense. It felt like even though I had a whole lot to learn, it came naturally to me. I decided I would journal these experiments [on] a ‘secret’ page called Wing it With Ankush so that I can look back at it five years from now and see what I was up to [during] lockdown. I didn’t tell anyone about it. But people eventually discovered it and there was no looking back!
One word for gender stereotypes?
One word: Ingrained. It’s so deeply ingrained in us that we find it hard to just accept people the way they are.
How is (or isn’t) India evolving in terms of stereotypes?
We are definitely evolving. It’s a slow process but there’s hope. There’s a long way to go and for starters, I wish people could give non-cis people as much respect, appreciation, and credit, as they give to cis people like me, especially in the beauty space.
Must-have makeup products for men?
Makeup ‘must-haves’ are very subjective across all genders. Some people can’t do without a full face of makeup, while others could care less. I feel nothing is a must-have. [D]on’t wear makeup because you feel you need to, wear it only if it makes you feel good. My must-haves would be a color corrector, concealer, and powder.
Favorite makeup hack ever:
My favorite makeup hack is to underpaint. Apply bronzer and blush before your foundation. It’s so much more natural looking.
Let’s talk about your career in entertainment. What does comedy mean to you?
Comedy is a defense mechanism for me. It’s also self-expression, to be honest. That’s how I go about my day — finding humor in mundane things. Comedy is how I see life.
Beauty Influencer Of The Year Male (Popular Choice) — Ankush Bahuguna! Congratulations! You left your audience with these words in your Instagram post: “There’s always been too much self-doubt and too little self-worth.” How does one overcome that feeling of self-doubt?
As someone who has grown up constantly feeling inadequate, it’s difficult for me to not give in to self-doubt, literally every day. But I guess the idea is to be as kind and forgiving to yourself as you are to others. If you’ve come this far, you must’ve done something right. Right?
We can’t deny that Ankush Bahuguna is going out of his way to put a smile on our faces with his day-to-day content — reels, photos, Insta stories, and more! All while paving a new path for himself and, like we mentioned before, holding space for those who aspire to be them one day. Ankush continues to push the envelope one makeup tutorial at a time, showing the modern world that it’s time to take men in makeup seriously because they’re here to stay!
The featured image is courtesy of Dream N Hustle Media.
Holistic beauty trends are more prevalent than ever — that makes ayurvedic beauty brands incredibly sought-after, as well. Do you find yourself asking what your beauty products are actually made of? A lot of us even resort to food products for a skincare routine such as honey for face wash.
The term “Ayurvedic Beauty” is getting more recognition outside the South Asian world as well.
Ayurvedic beauty is coined upon the term “Ayurveda,” which originated in Hindu culture as the basis of utilizing the five life forms — air, water, ether, fire, and earth — to heal the human body.
Is your skin feeling a little dry this winter? Nourishing your skin with body oil will lend it the right amount of moisture — Soma Ayurvedic’s jasmine body oil can do that trick! Shop the oil, and their full line of products, here.
If you’re familiar with author and podcast Host, Jay Shetty, then you may have heard of his tea line, Sama Tea. Herbal teas provide many natural benefits. Has it been a stressful week? Try their lavender rose chamomile tea for some TLC. Check them out here.
Know the Netflix show “Ginny & Georgia?” Loved the actress’ fresh-looking skin? Sahajan Skincare is behind that glow! They’re a must-try, featured in both Vogue and Elle India. See their full range of products here.
This unique company showcases its brand with an emphasis on ‘holistic.’ Whether it’s bad hair days or excessive shedding, not only do Shaz and Kiks provide the products to help but also break down the science behind the problem. Go on your very own shopping spree by clicking here!
Looking for accessible ayurvedic beauty products? Look no further! Ranavat is now in Sephora. With a beauty line that covers both hair and skin, there’s something here for everyone. See for yourself here.
Are you looking for brown skin-friendly sunscreen filled with nutrients? Look no further. Inde Wild has its very own SPF 50, with natural substances such as liquorice extract and cica, and it’s a mineral SPF suitable for all skin types. See what the brand is all about and shop it here.
I’m always in the market for brown girl-friendly lipsticks, and ones that are made of natural ingredients are a huge plus. Mango People does just this with their unique lipstick colors that suit all brown skin tones. Try them out here!
Need to swap out your shampoo for something better? Try Kama Ayurveda’s Ayurvedic Hair cleaner, infused with a variety of herbs and pulses with key ingredients like vetiver, tulsi, rose, moong beans, and shikakai. They have a variety of products to choose from so start with your hair and keep shopping for more here!
Just getting into skincare and don’t know where to start? PRATIMA skincare has starter sets, with basics, that every woman can use such as vitamin C serum, essential oils, and collagen creams. Grab yours now by shopping here!
Struggling with hair care recently? Fable & Mane includes various hair oils in their collection that help grow and nourish your hair. Not only that, they have a scalp detox line as well — definitely worth checking out. See their full range of products here.
Ever since we can recall, the Cannes Film Festival has been a merger of movies and glamour. On one side, there are hand-picked films — ready to premiere and make their mark in the world of entertainment — and on the other, audiences and paparazzi alike are served epic moments in fashion.
The festival, aimed to preview upcoming films from all over the world, invites a wide variety of guests that span the film fraternity, of course, but more recently, has opened its doors to many digital content creators, including renowned South Asian creatives.
With a more vast guest list comes a more recent debate: Cannes is a film festival and not a fashion showcase. Kickstarting the debate this year was none other than ace Bollywood director, Nandita Das, who in an Instagram post shared:
Sometimes people seem to forget that it is a festival of films and not of clothes!
In short, Das wants Cannes’ narrative to continue to focus on films.
But of course, there’s been a paradigm shift in the guest list over the last few years; this shift has allowed talents from various industries — including lifestyle content creators, entrepreneurs, etc., who showcase their work in fashion and beauty like fine masterstrokes — to walk the carpet and represent their craft, making space for others in their industry.
Influential names like Dolly Singh, Kaushal, Diipa Buller-Khosla, and Shivani Bafna — all of whom made a raging impact on the red carpet this year — weigh in on the significance of representing South Asian artists/influencers on the red carpet, and how they feel they’ve been part of this paradigm shift at Cannes Film Festival.
I believe that each step we take at events like Cannes sends a powerful message of diversity, cultural richness, and artistic excellence. Representation matters, and the presence of South Asian creators on the red carpet at Cannes helps broaden the narrative of beauty, talent, and creativity. It allows us to showcase our unique perspectives, narratives, and contributions, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive industry. By actively participating and making our presence felt, we help create more opportunities and spaces for South Asian creators, encouraging others to share their stories with the world.
Since 2015, the first time I walked the red carpet, till this year I have always been invited by L’Oreal Paris, one of the main sponsors of the event. It has always been such an honor to be invited to the festival through the makeup brand that I have been using for almost two decades, and, before my social media career began. Personally, I feel a sense of acknowledgment from such a prestigious brand, and its head office teams that sponsor Cannes Film Festival, and value the work I have done and continue to do as a South Asian content creator within the beauty space. Makeup, hair, and beauty will always play a big role within the film industry and it’s something I have always created my content around which is why I am proud to attend.
This is a proud moment not just for me but also [for] my peers and the entire content creator ecosystem given that we have reached such new global stages and presence. Of course, as you said, such film festivals, once considered as an exclusive hub for a congregation of the finest acting talents have, in the last few years, opened their arms to more people from the entertainment industry.
This is not just a sudden phenomenon with a burst of Indian creators at the festival this year but there is increased participation from non-film and non-South Asian celebrities across various spectrums from different sides of the world. Along with the many filmmakers, actors, producers, etc I also met some amazing influencers and entrepreneurs from other sides of the world. It’s amazing to represent India and celebrate and champion the advent of the digital ecosphere on such a prominent platform.
The confluence of actors and creators signified the amalgamation of traditional cinema and new-age digital influence, highlighting the transformative power of creative expression and how festivals like Cannes have become more forthcoming and progressive in their approach.
Cannes, like any other prominent festival, boasts of a red carpet that is synonymous with fashion and glitz, and I wanted to use this opportunity to represent all the amazing Indian fashion designers on the carpet besides, of course, attending the screenings. As someone who is just not an influencer but also an actress, I thoroughly enjoyed all the red-carpet screenings and meeting like-minded film talent from around the world at the event. At some point in the future, I would like to be attending Cannes for a film I’ve featured in.
Creators are often placed into boxes of where they belong and the rooms they can be a part of. Being on the red carpet dismantles the ideology that there’s a cap on how far we, as creators and as a South Asian community, can go and what we can achieve.
The Cannes Film Festival has always been viewed as the epitome of a glamorous event — everyone who attends looks like they’re living their best lives. I used the platform to share an authentic message of what the experience felt like for me. To represent all of us who doubt our potential, experience imposter syndrome, and are nervous to find their place, yet continue to push through to achieve their dreams!
As the first Indian American influencer to walk at Cannes, I hope I can inspire young women to confidently ask, ‘Why not me?’
There’s no doubt that the Cannes Film Festival is centered around films, and continues to be a unique space for the global film fraternity to bring their art and showcase their aptitude. But, creators like Bafna, Singh, Buller-Khosla, and Kaushal — a special shoutout to Raja Kumari for being instrumental in paving the way as well — have their own set of responsibilities to fulfill upon their invitation to the prestigious event. Their will to represent their South Asian identities, celebrate their industries, and continue to hold space for their peers makes their presence at Cannes more than just clothes.
All images in the featured photo are from the influencers’ Instagram feeds.