How Neem is Making a Comeback with All-Natural, Cruelty-Free Skincare Products


The following post is brought to you by JustNeema North Carolina-based company, inspired by nature and ancient Indian roots to infuse science with the medicinal secrets of the Neem tree. JustNeem has funded a Neem Tree orchard that is growing Neem trees in the Sahara Desert region of Mauritania, West Africa. Grown in their sustainable Neem Tree orchard, the West African Neem has shown to have one of the highest concentrations of active natural compounds. This high-potency Neem is in every product they make. JustNeem gives back to the community in West Africa by planting trees, offering well-paying jobs, supporting families and teaching new skills in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the world. | All photos in this post are courtesy of Kamini Ramdeen

Feeling beautiful from the inside-out is one of the hardest challenges for almost anyone — no matter your gender identity, background, culture or genetics. Not to mention external-unspoken pressures put on us by society dictating what is and isn’t beautiful is one of the biggest reasons many of us grow up insecure with low confidence or poor self-esteem. When we take the time to put ourselves first and make time daily to care for our skin, we automatically feel better about ourselves. Partnering with skincare brands like JustNeem, that believe in producing only fair trade, all natural, cruelty-free products that are not only good for our skin but are also good for the planet, helps us care for ourselves and others in a more holistic way.

[Read Related: JustNeem: The Bridge Between Indian Roots and Modern Skincare is Finally Here]

We collaborated with four self-identifying South Asian women — Maesha, Sneha, Ashni and Trisha — who shared thoughts on what it takes to feel beautiful, how often they leave the house with a full face of makeup on, their personal skincare journeys, how much is skincare a priority in their lives, and which JustNeem product from the Facial Care Set ($34.99) do they resonate with the most.


Maesha  / @mvesha

Outside of being a lifestyle blogger and dancer on Instagram, Maesha is an entrepreneur and education advocate attending Barnard College of Columbia University. She resonates with JustNeem’s soap bar the most because growing up she heard a lot about her parents using neem soap to restore irritated skin.


What does feeling beautiful mean to you?

The definition of beauty has been obscured and misunderstood over time to fit the standards set by society, by colonial-influenced agendas (colorism), and oftentimes by media. For me, feeling beautiful is redefining what beauty is. It means feeling good about my choices, feeling empowered, and feeling happy.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

I do not wear makeup on the go when I am busy or running to classes, I am usually bare-face or have just some mascara and concealer, however when it comes to social gatherings or attending anything outside of school, I do find myself wearing more makeup. It becomes normalized and engrained to look ‘put together’ (very subjectively defined), which makes it difficult to cut slack on a full face sometimes.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

Photoshopping and the prevalent beauty standards plastered on magazines are often unrealistic. They perpetuate a cycle of self-loathing and a depletion of self-confidence as people trying to go to extremes in order to fit into these standards (hint hint, let’s not forget fair and lovely marketing and photoshopped images of women’s complexion being lightened 5x their shade). Focusing on natural regimes/holistic treatments to tackle prevalent beauty problems face by many South Asian women — whether it’s hyperpigmentation, dark circles, or acne — is a better and healthier approach to helping women/men feel more comfortable, beautiful, and empowered.

Does making skin care a priority help with your overall confidence?

Absolutely, you can wear a smile but a nice glow on your face says it all! I feel more confident when I wake up with better skin. Every day is a work-in-progress and every now and then, there are problematic breakouts. When my skin finally restores itself, it is always a moment to celebrate and feel proud of!

Why is using all natural products important to you?

Using natural/organic products not only have a plethora of health and beauty benefits, but it is also just so much better for the environment. Being able to do your skin justice while also refraining from harmful chemicals makes the beauty-process that much more rewarding! Plus, fragrances and harsh chemicals are always a tricky route and in the long run, are not as rewarding for our pores/skin. That’s why I love JustNeem’s Fragrance-Free Neem Soap. It has all the great natural ingredients without a strong fragrance and leaves my face super clean.

Sneha Goud  / @sneha_goud

A public policy advocate living and working in New York City, Sneha had an affinity for the face mask, which Sneha says has a fresh, natural scent unlike the overwhelming artificial fragrance of other brands. 


What does feeling beautiful mean to you?

Feeling confident in myself makes me feel beautiful. When I am happy with my work, my relationships, and my health, I feel beautiful. Often when I have a lot of makeup and fancy clothes on, I actually feel more self-conscious than beautiful.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

Hardly ever! Maybe if I just have to run to the store on my block, I won’t put on makeup. Otherwise, I almost always have some foundation and powder on. Even if I know I won’t see anyone I know, I feel incomplete. It’s like leaving the house without my purse, I feel like I forgot something.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

I look at Instagram and ads online and see girls with perfect skin and bodies. I’m self-conscious about the dark spots and dryness on my skin and would much rather use natural products that make my skin and body feel healthy than cover up imperfections.

Tell us about your skincare journey from childhood to now?

I always had the darkest skin in my peer group — both among South Asians and others. Despite this, skincare wasn’t something I thought about much until I hit middle school. Then I started noticing how my dark skin made dry spots more obvious and the lack of makeup options for me. I grew extremely self-conscious in pictures, especially around lighter-skinned friends.

In college and young adulthood, I became more confident in myself and this maturity extended to my skin. I figured out what skincare products worked for me (and what didn’t). Though I found products I liked, I still feel like I don’t have the same options other girls do.


Does making skin care a priority help with your overall confidence?

Being healthy and using products that promote a healthy body is a huge priority for me. The healthier my skin looks and feels makes me more comfortable in my looks and choices.

Why is using all natural products important to you?

Our bodies are exposed to so many toxins every day. The foods we eat and the products we use often have hidden chemicals that are harming our health. Using natural products as much as possible makes me feel like I am reversing some of the ill effects caused by the environment, and that’s why I love JustNeem’s Clay Mask even more because firstly it removes all the toxins in my skin and secondly, it’s all natural.

Ashni Mehta  / @ashnii

A blogger, dancer and digital strategist at the Brennan Center for Justice, Ashni said she’s never experienced such visible results so quickly! The Cure Oil replenished months of dry skin from the winter in just a few short days, she went on to say about the Facial Care Set.

justneemWhat does feeling beautiful mean to you?

To me, feeling beautiful has always meant being unapologetically and fearlessly myself. It’s about feeling confident in my own skin, not just despite my flaws but because of them. Most importantly, it means being happy in my skin — with or without makeup.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

Actually, pretty often! I try to let my skin breathe as often as possible and only wear makeup a few times a week. It took quite a while for me to get comfortable being in public with no makeup on, but it is truly liberating being able to embrace and appreciate my flaws as part of my journey.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

For as long as I can remember, society has been feeding us images that conflate beauty with being lighter — in both skin tone and weight. We’re constantly being told to aspire to ideals of beauty that are nowhere near realistic or representative of a majority of women. I think it’s time for all brands to ditch photoshop and take on a more natural and holistic approach. We, as a society, need to eliminate the pressure to look a certain way and encourage women to embrace their natural beauty.


Tell us about your skincare journey from childhood to now?

Skincare honestly wasn’t something I thought much about until pretty recently. The stress from balancing my full-time job, dance and my blog caused me to break out more and more often — something that I had never really experienced growing up. It forced me to slow down and prioritize my health. I knew I wanted a long-term solution without having to rely on medications or chemical-based products, so I experimented with homemade face masks and other natural skincare products. Now, I know the types of products that work for my skin type and will lead to healthier skin.

Why is using all natural products important to you?

There are so many proven benefits to using natural skincare products, the reasons are endless! I’ve also found that natural products work better for me over a long period of time, and more importantly, they are more sustainable for the environment, which is why JustNeem’s Facial Care Set is a win-win, it has all the elements I need to keep my face hydrated and healthy, and the environment a better place. 

No matter what tone, shade or condition your skin is in, we all feel better and have more confidence with healthy skin. We should all be able to feel beautiful without make-up or photo filters. Being mindful of making yourself a priority and celebrating your individuality is a step toward self-assurance. Not to mention, we feel a sense of accomplishment when we choose products that are good for the environment and lift those less fortunate along the way. Self-care and doing good for planet Earth is not a fad, it’s here to stay, so that’s why ordering JustNeem’s all-natural Facial Care Kit has been a priority for us to continuously share in the hopes you’ll give them a try and put your best face forward.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

South Asian Creators Claim Their Space at the Cannes Film Festival

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.

[Read Related: Cannes Film Festival 2022: Red Carpet Representation at its Finest]

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.

Diipa Buller-Khosla

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.


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A post shared by Diipa Bu?ller-Khosla (@diipakhosla)


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.


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A post shared by Kaushal ? (@kaushal)

Dolly Singh

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.


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A post shared by Dolly Singh (@dollysingh)

Shivani Bafna

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?’


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A post shared by Shivani Bafna (@shivani_bafna)

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.

By Sandeep Panesar

Sandeep Panesar is an editor, and freelance writer, based out of Toronto. She enjoys everything from the holiday season to … Read more ›

Ankush Bahuguna: “My Favorite Makeup Hack is to Underpaint”

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.

[Read Related: The Art of Cleaning Your Makeup Brushes]


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A post shared by Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna)

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.


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A post shared by Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna)

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?


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A post shared by Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna)

Absolutely 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.

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By Shezda Afrin

Shezda Afrin is an aspiring physician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of four, it was quite normal of her … Read more ›

17 Ayurvedic Beauty Brands on our Radar Right Now

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.

[Read Related: The Budget-Friendly Beauty Guide you Need This Spring Season]

Ayurvedic beauty brands focus on using herbs and natural ingredients to create their skincare range and consumers around the world are attracted to these natural products.

Scroll down to see some Ayurvedic beauty brands founded by South Asians.

Soma Ayurvedic

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.


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Sama Tea

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.


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A post shared by Sama Tea (@samatea)

Sahajan Skincare

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.


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A post shared by Sahajan (@sahajanskincare)

Shaz and Kiks

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!


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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.


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A post shared by RANAVAT (@ranavat)

UMM Skincare

UMM Skincare is known for its brown sugar body scrub, made with natural ingredients, and Bakuchi oil known to improve signs of aging and hyperpigmentation. Try it for yourself by shopping here!


Give your skin the best by adding ZAILA to your daily skincare routine! Click here and start shopping!


This brand is all plant-powered, and we’re here for it — you should be too! Check out their full range of products here.

Inde Wild

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.


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Mango People

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!

Kama Ayurveda

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!


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Forest Essentials

According to Forest Essentials, night time is the best time for hydration. Check out their night cream, filled with nutrients to enrich your skin. You can shop their wide variety of products here.


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Koppen Ayurveda

A brand made for modern living, their essentials are all worth a shot! Start shopping here!


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Looking for a new face mask to try? AAVRANI has a variety of face masks and explains in detail when you should apply the mask during the week depending on your skin type. Take a look here!


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Plant-based skincare, anyone? Delhicious has got everyone covered, so click here and fill your baskets!


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Pratima Skincare

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!


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Fable & Mane

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.


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[Read Related: 10 Clean Beauty Products That’ll Have you Winning on Earth Day]

In a world that’s becoming more conscious of holistic living, embracing Ayurvedic beauty in your day-to-day is a step in the right direction, and these brands are here to help you get started.

By Hrishika Muthukrishnan

Raised in North Carolina, Hrishika Muthukrishnan spent 18 years thinking there wasn’t much to the suburbs before she discovered how … Read more ›