What Color Skin did you Want When you Grew Up?

Did you know what color you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you even think about it? Did you ever think about what a brown skin tone can lead to once you’re an adult? Not many of us did.

Teenagers in the United States brag about their tans but don’t have to answer to why they do tan. Instead, a tan is a trademark of sunny days, lounging, vacation, and ultimately, luxury.

In contrast, when I was a kid, I was told to always wear sunscreen, cover up, and always told to have “less brown skin”—a brown skin tone was a big no-no, you see. Asian culture practically dictates skin lightening as a must. No matter what color you started out, lighter=better.

[Read Related: Busted! 5 of the Biggest South Asian Skincare Myths we all Believe]

So, I felt weird about having brown skin. I didn’t look like the people around me, so people could say things like: “Your skin is the color of poop.” (Yes, that happens to people, not just comedians who can use it in a joke later.)

Sure, in recent times, TV has made some gains. But, it’s not enough for people to see others who look like me on screen. Even if characters are in new shows, they’re usually in the same stereotypical roles—over and over again. Listen up, media world: Not all Indians are scientists or doctors. We believe in following our dreams, and it’s not always about what you see in mainstream media.

Wikipedia shared a list titled “American Television Series with Asian Leads.” Can you guess how many series were headlined by Asians in the 2000s?


Now, how can we know what makeup to buy, clothes to wear, and what things to say if we have nobody to model? (I’m only half-kidding. Growing up, I was always glued to “Lucky” and “Self,” hoping one day they’d catch on that we’re not all size 0, blond-haired, blue-eyed angels who can wear whatever we want and still get compliments. “Self” finally caught on this year and is featuring women of different shades and ethnicities, but “Lucky” is now defunct.)

Hearing that Priyanka Chopra was passed over for roles because her skin is not blanched white is not even surprising. Despite being known internationally, she’s still held to that same unfair double standard that brown people in this country are faced with every single day.

[Read Related: Sun Tans and Dark Skin: Unpacking White Privilege]

Oh and, before you say it—yes! There are some roles built for Asians, but there still aren’t enough for young kids to see and feel like they’re part of something bigger. There aren’t enough to dispel stereotypes. And there certainly aren’t enough to make a change in people’s perceptions of a given religion.

American culture loves “exotic” looks and seeks out characters that are beautiful according to American beauty standards, but also says you can’t be “too” exotic. So, how are you possibly supposed to mold yourself to get that “perfect” brown skin tone? Furthermore, those standards of stick-thin, big-chested, small features, light and long hair, and tanned skin are not the norm for many American women and are patently unfair to those of us who don’t fit that mold.

So, which color wins?

By Tara Ashraf

Tara Ashraf is an international communications and media professional. She has a master’s degree in International Media from American University … 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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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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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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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 ›