I’m South Asian and These Are Hands Down the Best Beauty Products for Brown Skin

If you read POPSUGAR Australia on the daily then you’ve most likely read a few stories written by me. My name is Basmah, I’m 26 years old and I’m an Australian-born Pakistani. Why the intro, you ask? Well, firstly, it’s important to provide some context. I love beauty. I’ve loved it ever since I raided my mum’s makeup drawer when I was five. The passion extended into adulthood and ever since I can remember, I’ve been researching and attempting to find the best beauty products that work for melanated skin such as mine. 

You see, growing up (and even now), there hasn’t been much representation for South Asian women in the beauty world. I still struggle to find foundations that match my olive skin tone, and brown skin comes with its own set of skincare problems. Sure, we don’t age as quickly as those with fair skin but hyperpigmentation will forever be the bane of my existence.

When I was studying at university, I was a makeup artist for MECCA and it was then that I realised the struggles I faced and the alienation I felt in the beauty industry was actually quite normal. I had women of colour coming to me every day desperate for advice, saying people can never seem to shade match them correctly, or they’ve been recommended products that just don’t work for them. 

Makeup and skincare is not one size fits all, and while the industry is getting much better at recognising the diversity of its customers, it can still be intimidating for women of colour to walk into a beauty store as a beginner. 

This is why I wanted to share my tried and true beauty products. From skin care to makeup, these are the items I’ve either been using for years or those that have made a huge difference to my routine. 

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup ($62)

The Estee Lauder Doublewear Foundation is one I’ve been using for over a decade now and for good reason. I’ve tried hundreds of foundations over the years, but nothing quite compares to this one. The extensive shade range (over 60 colours!) means there’s something for everyone, and the lasting power is unlike anything I’ve ever come across. This full-coverage foundation not only comes in a wide variety of shades but the colours are split into different categories depending on your undertone. Anyone who’s ever asked me for makeup product recommendations in the past would know this foundation is always at the top of my list.

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter ($65)

This liquid illuminator is a new addition to my routine, but it’s made an enormous difference. Ever since MECCA announced that it would be selling Charlotte Tilbury in store, this was the product that I knew I had to get my hands on. Melanated skin can sometimes appear dull and ashy, but a few dots of this blended out underneath your foundation provides a boost of radiance. The Flawless Filter can either be worn alone, underneath or mixed in with your favourite base. It’s available in eight shades, and I would suggest running to your nearest MECCA store to get your hands on it. 

Bobbi Brown Corrector ($51)

If you’re South Asian, then chances are you deal with hereditary dark under-eye circles or discolouration around your skin. First of all, I’m here to reassure you that it’s completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve had dark circles under my eyes since I was in kindergarten, and I remember looking around the girls my age and wondering why my skin doesn’t look like theirs.

Now that I’m older, I embrace them but on the days I do want to cover them up, I use the Bobbi Brown Corrector to cancel out the darkness. I’ve tried quite a few colour correctors and they’re either far too orange or the consistency doesn’t sit well underneath the rest of my makeup, but the Bobbi Brown Corrector is the perfect medium. It’s creamy enough to blend seamlessly into the skin, but the shade is more of a peach than a bright orange, so it covers the blue tones under my eyes and around my mouth without making it look like I applied red lipstick all over my face.

Ultra Violette Queen Screen ($47)

Repeat after me: Just because I have dark skin does not mean I can skip sunscreen. Now that we’ve established that fact, let’s move on to the best sunscreen I have ever tried. Growing up, my mum would buy me Banana Boat and any other brand that was readily available at our local Woolworths, and nine times out of 10, I would be left an oily, ashy mess. The white cast was intense and my acne-prone skin would get clogged and irritated. The Ultra Violette Queen Screen not only leaves me with a hydrated glow, but it’s completely sheer, so my skin tone remains exactly the same. This miracle product contains SPF 50+ and acts as the perfect base for makeup, and feels more like a lightweight serum than a heavy moisturiser. 

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($28)

After years and years of chapstick use, my poor lips became dependent on it. All hell used to break loose if I didn’t have a tube of Carmex in my handbag, and the last time it happened, I had decided enough is enough. That’s where the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask comes in. This tiny little pot has changed my life. My lips are now hydrated, plump and aren’t left a dry, flaking mess whenever I leave the house. Oh, and while it’s considered a “sleeping mask”, you can pretty much use it at any time of the day. 

Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow ($120)

As your beauty godmother, I’m here to let you know that you need to start incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine. The Sunday Riley C.E.O. Glow is the best one I’ve tried so far, and leaves my skin looking radiant, even and plump. This lightweight facial oil delivers cold-pressed, nutrient-rich extracts into your skin, which in turn leaves the complexion looking brighter. If you deal with acne scarring or any form of hyperpigmentation then this is going to become your best friend. 

CeraVe Moisturising Cream ($15.99)

Not every beauty product has to have a hefty price tag attached to it for it to work and the CeraVe Moisturising Cream is proof. This giant tub of moisturiser is going to last you forever and can be used all over the face and body. Containing ceramides, this rich, non-greasy cream provides hydration and helps strengthen the skin’s protective barrier. And don’t be fooled by its simplicity, because this moisturiser is seriously effective. After I completely destroyed my skin by using one acid after another, I decided to give CeraVe a try and let me just say, I’m never going back.

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