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Karishma Gulyani

Karishma is an engineer turned fashion stylist and writer who loves talking about trends as much as eating desserts. Gucci, Ranveer Singh, salted caramel ice-cream and lipsticks make up four chambers of her heart. Like Karishma's story? Drop her a line in the comments section below.

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Four Indian Men On The Changing Ideals Of Beauty

Beauty is personal, but also universal.

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Image Courtesy: WeTransfer

For generations, beauty has been seen as a ‘women-only’ endeavour, so we have forgotten that wasn’t the case always. From ancient Egyptian men using black pigment to create elaborate cat-eye designs, green malachite eye shadow to ward off harmful illness, and lip and cheek stain made from red ochre to ancient Roman men applying red pigment to their cheeks and painting their nails with an elixir of pig fat and blood, from men in Elizabethan England covering their face with white powder which often was made of the deadly lead to 18th-century French Aristocrats painting their face, apply beauty spots, and indulging in wigs – men and beauty had a steady association for millennia, stretching from 4000 BCE to mid-1800s, until the society led beauty to pivot to one end of the gender spectrum. Later, the absolute rock n rollers David Bowie and Prince revived the ideals of ‘Men In Beauty’ (MIB) in the ‘80s. And then, with a slow and steady approach, the concept of metrosexuality re-entered the cultural consciousness in the early 2000s and well, never left, courtesy the emergence of many social media channels. Instead, we found modern-day beauty gurus that consider grooming and makeup as a natural extension of self-expression rather than a gender and have broken down many centuries-old stereotypes. Think James Charles, Manny Gutierrez, and Jonathan Van Ness.

As the conventions of gender presentation become more and more adaptive, so do the ideals of beauty. Today, it’s more inclusive, empowering, and accessible than ever. And in a bid to explore this notion, we decided to reach out to some of our favourite ‘Men In Beauty’ to understand their approach to beauty and its ever-evolving ideals and even, have them reveal some genuinely great hacks for us all.

Siddharth Batra, Fashion & Grooming Content Creator

siddharth batra guy beauty

How has your beauty ritual evolved over the years and how do you feel about the changes?
Quite frankly, I’ve been a just-a-moisturizer-and-face-wash guy for the most part of my life. Until four years back, when my acne breakout brought a whirlpool of change in my skincare routine. I started to study my skin a lot more to understand it’s nuances and likes/dislikes – I was on a learning curve. And I haven’t looked back since. I’m now a 10-step night-time skin routine kind of guy. More so, because I now also create content on beauty and grooming, so it’s important for me to try out as much as I can, before recommending it. My videos are a reflection of my personal routine. Right from a moisturizer to a tinted moisturizer, lip mask to a lip conditioner, vitamin C to hyaluronic acid serums, anti-oxidant to retinol products, concealers to brow mascaras, I use it all. I celebrate my products like I bought them off a Black Friday sale! The biggest change, however, is in the fact that I now know where my money is going and what the product is actually doing. Skincare hoarding can be a taxing process on your bank account, your skin, and your organizational skills. Studying my skin more, with the help of my dermatologist, has made me a conscious user/buyer/creator now. And the result is my Instagram beauty video series, #GuyBeauty!

Also, do you think that brands have started to cater their products and/or campaigns to men?
To talk of skin types, there are multiple brands doing male-centric and focussed products already; in India and internationally. Even across the luxury sector, we have Tom Ford and Armani. But there’s a long way to go; beauty is a gender-neutral activity and this knowledge exists in rarity currently. Evolving people’s minds is important, in fact, as important as self-evolution – we’re our best teachers. And when it comes to brands, including an extra shade or two in the product range, having “cool” people as ambassadors, or being inclusive isn’t going to help. To evolve people’s minds completely, we need to address the root problems that surround the bigger problem i.e. basic education. That will bring real change.

And how do people around you react when they discover that you take care of your skin or don’t shy away from using makeup? 
Across my core crew, I have never seen brows being raised over my interest in skincare or even make-up, for that matter. My social media account, however, has seen various kinds of comments – expletives and even assumptions on my sexuality. But truth be told, I get 90% of positive comments. Beauty is a personal choice and doesn’t make you THIS or THAT. And breaking people out of their conditioning is difficult and time-consuming, but I’m hoping to change it a little with my Guy Beauty series. Well, change makes me happy; I’m a Libran!

Lastly, which are the products and/or hacks that have been in steady rotation in your routine?
I could list quite a few here, but I’d stick to my current top five products: The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser, Drunk Elephant’s Glycolic Night Serum, Phy Super Light Moisturiser (it’s a new Indian brand and I’m obsessed with this particular product for my combination skin type), Milk Makeup’s overnight lip mask and Becca’s Highlighter Drops (highlighters are my new beauty obsession). As for hacks, I may be using my Aesop anti-oxidant under eye serum on my lips sometimes and a VERY faint layer of a white liner on my waterline to look more awake!

Akshay Tyagi, Celebrity Stylist & Creative Consultant

akshay tyagi

How have your beauty rituals evolved over the years and how do you feel about the changes?
Well, I have adopted a more regimented routine as I’ve aged and learned about the products. Taking care of my skin used to involve just a simple moisturizer and now, I have some basic serums and creams that help tackle the wear and tear from over the years.

Do you think that brands have started to cater their products and/or campaigns to men?
Yes, totally! Especially since beauty is now no longer seen as only a feminine activity for the average straight male. And I feel with men’s grooming evolving into a much more vanity-focused routine and promotion of the idea of self-care, it’s become important that brands do cater to us. Or even better if they cater to one and all since the spectrum of humans is no longer tied to any gender norms. 

And how do people around you react when they discover that you take care of your skin or don’t shy away from using makeup?
The beauty vocabulary is growing! It’s now absolutely normal for a man to speak of under-eye patches, face masks, scrubs, and exfoliants. Even, pedicures are no longer a taboo. Plus, everyone loves sheet masks. Well, I surely do, especially from Laneige recently.

Lastly, which are the beauty products and/or hacks that have been in steady rotation in your routine?
I swear by the under-eye moisturizing treatments (from patches to serums), a basic non-greasy moisturizer for my face (from Clinique and Truefitt & Hill), and a gentle face wash (from Cetaphil). And the best hand creams happen to be from L’Occitane and Jo Malone. For my hair, I have been a true Aveda user for years.

Kunal Walia, Business Head – Louis Vuitton (DLF Emporio, New Delhi)

Kunal Walia

How have your beauty rituals evolved over the years and how do you feel about the changes?
I think beauty, in general, has gone through a huge transformation over the years. Of course, I have been conscious since early years about what I use, the brands I use, what works for me, and what doesn’t work for me. But I think over the years you also kind of relate it with just not the “product” aspect of it, but also connect it to your lifestyle, after all, it’s also what you eat, how much you sleep, mental peace, your exercise regime, and work-life ratio. And in regards to the changes, I obviously feel good because for me, feeling good not just from the outside but also from the inside is the super key.

Do you think that brands have started to cater their products and/or campaigns to men?
Of course, now we see many brands that have started to cater to their ranges according to men’s skin types or have products that are more viable for Indian skin and have become a bit more masculine in their packaging and presentation. I feel it works as a lot of men now are super conscious of beauty and about what they use and want to maintain a regime when it comes to grooming in general.

And how do people around you react when they discover that you take care of your skin or don’t shy away from using makeup?
I think the perception towards beauty and makeup is a lot more different now than a few years ago. And I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone if as a guy I have a conversation on beauty and makeup. I guess that’s also because of the circle or the people I associate with for whom it’s supernormal. I love my skin and I love taking care and feeling good about it, so there is no harm in that. In regards to makeup, you’d be surprised, but I never touch makeup on an everyday basis. For me, it’s usually something I do to hide some scars and imperfections in certain areas, before maybe a social gathering and that’s it. I am very comfortable in how I look and don’t feel the need to glam myself up unnecessarily. But then, it’s actually each to their own and I respect that.

Lastly, which are the beauty products and/or hacks that have been in steady rotation in your routine?
Well, I love trying out different brands/products and beauty hacks. I just am a very curious person in general, so sometimes I go the natural way for a while, and then, sometimes I also want to try the new products being launched around. But I keep in mind to always stick to the basics. i.e. cleanse, tone, serum, eyes, moisturize, and sunscreen.
I have been quite hooked to cleansing skin with different methods. Like, sometimes I like to use a natural scrub from Paro, and sometimes it’s a nice smelling facial oil with a light brush which cleans out impurities deep down. The ones that I am using currently are from Innisfree and a brand that I picked up in London by the name of “Skin Laundry”.
I definitely do use a serum, which is something I started much later in life. I feel they are super cool as they really go deep down and are always packed with the right kind of ingredients to plump your skin up. I am currently switching between one from Aesop and a new brand I discovered through a friend Dot and key. They have the best Vitamin C serum which is super amazing on the skin and gives it an instant boost and hydration. In general, Vitamin C works really well for my skin always and is one of my easy and safe bets.
And, I never miss out on using sunscreen, before I head out. The one I use currently is a basic Neutrogena, but with a higher SPF of 100+ than the usual ones. Its super lightweight and absorbs easily into the skin.

Tejeshwar Sandhoo, Men’s Lifestyle Blogger – Blueberry Blackout

Tejeshwar Sandhoo @blueberryblackout

How have your beauty rituals evolved over the years and how do you feel about the changes?
I think as Indian men most of our beauty regimes are non-existent, till the time we grow up and figure out that we need one. When growing up, it’s always limited to what the mother or the sister use. And now, obviously, everyone has become clearer about what they want and how they want to achieve that certain standard that they keep for themselves. I too have learned to formulate a beauty and grooming regime for myself which works really well and with age has to keep changing.

Do you think that brands have started to cater their products and/or campaigns to men?
They have to. They don’t have a choice anymore. With more and more studies proving how men and women have a huge difference in skin types, brands need to make that shift to cater to both.

And how do people around you react when they discover that you take care of your skin or don’t shy away from using makeup?
Honestly, I’ve heard people say things like “Omg, I need to do this too”. So, it’s never really been about any taboo rather it’s always been a pretty positive reaction.

Lastly, which are the beauty products and/or hacks that have been in steady rotation in your routine?
I always try and use a toner, for sure. My skin is a mess especially during season change and that’s the only thing that helps me dig deeper for that perfect cleanse.

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