Ethnic beauty tips from Stylist's Anita Bhagwandas

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Stylist Team
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After writing The Changing Face of Beauty, a piece on ethnic beauty and why the industry needs to change, Stylist's Beauty Assistant, Anita Bhagwandas was overwhelmed by the response from Stylist readers, with countless tweets, comments and emails about how her writing struck a chord. As well as being Stylist's Beauty Assistant, Anita also writes a monthly beauty column on darker skin for the Guardian, and has written for other national titles.

Recently, Anita joined us for a live web chat to answer your questions on product recommendations, trends, application tips, and all things beauty.

Make-up tips and beauty products

Hi, I have brown skin similar to yours and I love that pink lipstick you're wearing in your pic - what is it?! Plus - I want a really bright pink blusher, but all the pink ones don't look that bright on my skin, can you recommend one? Thanks! Nadine

The pink I'm wearing is NARS in Schiap with a clear gloss on the top. Looks incredible on darker fact, most skin tones! Bobbi Brown Pale Pink blush is my favourite pink blush, looks deceptively light, but is really fresh when applied.

What about the orange lipstick you're wearing in the other pic, that's great too! What is it? Nadine

That peach shade is a mix of a few different lipsticks, but, L'Oreal do a few similar shades that might work for you!

If you could recommend a nice dark but bright purple lipstick and an electric blue that would be great, I've been really discouraged by the wishy-washy pinks and browns for sale. Anita

Illamasqua do some brilliant bright and unusual shades. They have a purple called Kontrol that you might like, and a very dark blue called Disciple which is showstopping. For a bright blue try a brand called Morgana Cryptoria.

Which tone of red lipstick would you recommend for brunette hair with olive skin? I can't seem to find the right shade without it being too overpowering? Thanks. Erin

Try MAC's Russian Red - I think it might be a winner!

Hon, share your tips on getting perfect lashes - yours always look sensational and it's a product MINEFIELD, one that costs a fortune in bad choices. Lisa H

My favourite mascara is Diorshow Black Out. I always seem to come back to it! My lashes are really long naturally (I know how annoying that is to read), but to make yours seem thicker make sure your eyeliner is really blended into the lash line. Also, always use eyelash curlers - I use the Suqqu ones.

Please advise the best colour/tint for eyelashes for Asian skin tones, and also colours of eye shadows to dramatise the effect and create a glamorous look. Hena

I'm a big fan of petrol blues and dark greens on darker skins - also molten bronze shades that can be used to add drama without piling on tonnes of black shadow. As for eyelash tinting, I'd strongly recommend you have them done somewhere professional - it's risky business and they'll advise on colours!

I was just wondering if you could suggest any luxury brands that work well with darker skins and also the best cheaper brands? Mary

There are tonnes and like I said in my feature, so many of the big luxury brands cater to darker skins these days. It very much depends on what products you're after, but I love Bobbi Brown for, well, everything! And really rate Estee Lauder, Armani, Dior and YSL for lovely eye shadow shades. Sleek are one of my favourite brands for darker skins. Actually, one of my favourite brands in general. Bourjois eyeshadows are brilliant for darker skins too. Unfortunately apart from Sleek it's tough to buy foundations/powders for darker skins on the high-street. But it's great for well-priced colour cosmetics.

What do you think is missing in the beauty industry for women with darker skins? I'm always complaining about foundation, but there are probably other things too. Mary

Foundation is the big problem, because realistically, we can buy colour cosmetics anywhere. I think the biggest problem is the way that darker skins are represented, in terms of only being able to wear a bronze shade or a plum lipstick. Those ideas are totally outdated and the industry is finally waking up!

I think Iman cosmetics cater for black skin tones. Face powder is amazing! Chloe

DIY beauty

Hi Anita, do you have any tips on how to achieve a perfect smokey eye look for Asian skin tones? Thanks :) Amar B

Blending is key with smokey eyes, so make sure you've got a set of brilliant brushes. I use a mixture of MAC, Ruby & Millie and Illamasqua ones. Also, experiment with colours like greens and browns for variation on the usual black/grey shades.

Hi Anita, the one thing I struggle with is application of eyeliner. Can you recommend eyeliners (top and bottom) that create the perfect sleek line and any tips/advice on how to apply it! Many thanks x Sheillee

My ultimate tip for eyeliner is to rest your elbow on a table whilst you apply it - it keeps your hand really steady. I use L'Oreal Paris Super Liner, it's really easy to use. For a more dramatic effect it'll run over the liner with a small brush with black shadow to add intensity and use a little of that shadow underneath the bottom lashes too. Chanel's Kohl is my favourite black eyeliner, it's really dark, really soft and really smudgy.

Do you have any tips for creating the perfect arched eyebrow? What are your favourite products for brows? Rebecca Marchant

For the perfect arched brow, I'd advise having them threaded then maintaining/filling in the shape yourself. I use a small angled brush and a dark matte brown shadow. But be wary of creating too high an arch, it can look a little dated if it's too high.

Hi Anita, I'm aiming for a 60s look in a sari for a wedding next weekend. Can you recommend a good nude lipstick, I tried a Bobbi Brown one but it's a bit chalky and not quite the right colour. Any other 60s-inspired make-up tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Lini

For a nude lipstick (and bearing in mind that everyone has an individual 'nude' shade depending on their skin/lip tone) I'd go for something a little sheer rather than a block, matte colour. Try Edward Bess or Burberry - they're the best nudes I've found and look so elegant. For 60s make-up, check out YouTube tutorials - they're such an invaluable resource. I bet the Pixiwoo sisters have one! But go heavy on the liner, and lighter on the lips and you should be set!

I'm getting married in July and I haven't found an artist who doesn't make me look pale instead of Asian. I'm thinking of doing it myself. Any recommendations? Rima

Have you tried MAC or Bobbi Brown? Daniel Sandler's team are brilliant too! If you're going it alone, get on YouTube, watch the tutorials and practice as much as you can. And don't forget the waterproof mascara!

Skincare advice

I'm 24 but I'm convinced I need either Botox or an extreme chemical peel. My skin is so boring and dull and dry and make-up (from powder to BB creams) just sits on top and looks awful. I need a skin saviour that isn't going to turn me into an oil factory - HELP. Tiare

Hold off the Botox and peels for now, but do invest in a good exfoliator like Alpha-H. Go and visit a few really good skincare counters. I've struggled with my skin for years, but finding that skincare brand that works for you can make ALL the difference. Have a day of going around them all, asking for advice and getting lots of samples and I'm SURE you'll find something you'll love.

Also, facialists are a brilliant source of information - so book in for one and quiz them on what would work best for your skin.

For someone in their late 20s with combination/problem skin, what would you recommend as the ULTIMATE skin-saving facial? And who is your go-to facialist? Iona

Most of the big beauty brands like Elemis and Clarins etc do incredible facials and I'd have them regularly! But my favourite facials have been with facialist Rani Mirza and also Aromatherapy Associates.

Hi Anita :) Can you recommend a good mid-price anti-ageing range? I'm 26 going on 27 and I think it's time to admit I need a more grown-up skin care routine than my usual facewipes + moisturiser. Thanks! :) Stacey

There are so many great mid-priced brands! Olay, La Roche Posay, Vichy and Avene are brilliant ranges and have intensive research behind them. I really rate them.

Hi there, Which goes first? The primer or the pore minimizer? June

Pore Minimizer first I'd say. Then primer. But NARS do a Pore Refining Primer which might solve your problem!

Could you recommend a face powder for me? Any powder/bronzer I try seems to go patchy straight away. Is it my application method? Vonfluffy

Sounds like your powder could be the wrong colour or it's too heavy and is oxidising with the oils in your skin. I'd strongly recommend that all women with darker skins head to MAC and grab their blot powder. It's the ultimate powder for darker skins as it's invisible and doesn't cake at all. That's why it's always used on shoots...GREAT STUFF! (I'm passionate about it, can you tell?)

Is it worth wearing primer? Or is it best going for a really good foundation? Lexie

The right primer can make a huge difference to the professional result of your make-up - it's like magic wand! I use a selection from Make Up Forever, MAC, Estee Lauder and Hourglass. But, if you're unsure, then a brilliant moisturiser applied a little while before your foundation will definitely suffice.

Being a beauty journalist

Your job sounds like a dream come true! Are there any aspects of it you don't enjoy? Lily

My job is brilliant. Before I worked on Stylist I was obsessed with the magazine, and would be borderline distraught if I couldn't find a copy that week, so I''m really lucky to now be working on it. Our beauty team at Stylist is brilliant, because we're all so different and each bring something unique to the magazine. There honestly isn't a worst part, and I'm lucky to be able to say that. But a few more hours in the day would be nice... ;)

Hi, have you worked unpaid/completed internships? How many/for how long? Do you think they are a) necessary to get into the industry and b) fair? Jennifer

I did intern, for quite a while in fact. It's the best way in because not only do you make great contacts that help you to nail that first job, but you learn so much and that experience is invaluable. You learn how different teams work and you can take all the best parts of those experiences and apply them to your career for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, money is a huge problem when you're interning. Many are unpaid or don't offer travel costs, and I did that for months, managing with the odd bit of freelance work. Keep at it, and something will come up. It's a little corny, but I always think that if you have a dream, then there is no reason that it shouldn't become a reality!

I read your article when it came out and thought it was great! In my opinion most of these companies do not have many people with dark skin tones working at the top to champion this cause. Even companies like MAC may cater for some brown skin tones but they don't really cover a wide spectrum. In my opinion it is more difficult for a dark skin black woman (like those in the documentary you mentioned, Dark Girls) than it is for an Asian or light skin black woman like Rihanna etc. What do you think Anita? Andrea

You're right, it is harder for very very dark skins, but I'd say that MAC/Bobbi Brown are one of the best at catering for them. Lancome and Illamasqua's foundations go pretty dark too and Iman and Fashion Fair are good too (now they've been modernised!) Unfortunately, it's a case of trial and error when you have darker skin. You do have to put more effort in trying colours and textures. What I think is vital, though, is not to focus on this and rather empowering yourself by doing a little digging into great niche brands for darker skins, or going on YouTube and looking at make-up tutorials for darker skins or brushing up on your make-up skills.