Padma Lakshmi’s beauty journey

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Model, TV show host, author… Padma Lakshmi has donned many roles over the years. Her latest venture is a collaboration with MAC Cosmetics, for a capsule collection that pays homage to her Indian roots.

“We had danced around the idea of a collaboration for many years and it never materialised. We finally got around to it a couple of years back, and this collection is the result,” she says, on the phone from Mumbai. She is here to launch the line in India.

Learning the ropes

She took her time, learning the science behind creating different looks. “It was a longer process for me because I wanted to make sure that the colours looked good on medium and darker skin tones. I also took the opportunity to create my own makeup wishlist,” she says, with a conspiratorial laugh. The packaging was also an important part of the process for her, as she wanted her products to have a luxurious feel, and a “treat yourself” quality, at an affordable price (starting from ₹1,500).
As for the question of inclusivity, she says, “It makes good business sense to cater to brown people — there are more of us in the world than Caucasians! Especially in India, with a rising middle class and women professionals with disposable incomes, people are willing to splurge on quality products.” She adds that to make it happen in the right way, the products should be tested on a variety of skin types and tones.

Get the look

“This makeup line is influenced by my experiences as a model in the 90s, and not being able to find the right colours for my skin tone,” says Padma Lakshmi. Her personal favourites:

Mittai pink: While the name of this lipstick typically means garish or tacky, it’s a fun fuschia shade that suits a wide range of skin tones.

Moon & Shine: This versatile, two-toned blush duo has both peachy and pink shades. The idea is to use them separately or blended, depending on your undertones, to give a more natural look.

70s Sunset: I realised how good purple looks on brown eyes, and wanted to include it in this eyeshadow quad. The pearlescent shade is called Mumtaz, while the light green is called Cardamom.

Famous faces

Padma Lakshmi says she has met many people who have inspired her and helped improve her relationship with makeup and fashion:

Tyra Banks

When I was very young and first started modelling, Tyra taught me how to do my makeup and contour my nose. We are still friends, and talk about how young we were and how long we have known each other!

Antonio Gazzola

He was an Italian hair and makeup artist I worked with on many shoots. Rather than trying to make my skin look fairer, he encouraged me to use products that were made for my skin colour, and to really appreciate my own skin tone. He was a big influence.

Alice Temperley

We were neighbours, living in London’s mews. Although we were friends for a long time, I knew nothing about her work as a designer. I love her eclectic style and her great attitude.

Charlotte Tilbury

This UK-based makeup artist has done really well for herself with her own makeup line. I enjoy what she has created, and even though she is very fair, and has red hair, she has really understood how to deal with different skin tones and people.

Pat McGrath

We worked together on my jewellery campaign and she taught me a lot, including how to highlight my lips and make them look bigger with highlighter powder!

Kabuki

He is a vanguard of makeup, always trying new and wild things. He does my makeup a lot, including the latest one, with my MAC collection, for a magazine spread.