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Each season I try loads of  new beauty products, some of them I hate, some of them I like enough to finish that one purchase, and others I love and would be willing to purchase all over again!  Vasanti  Cosmetics is one of those brands that has become a personal favourite.  Contrary to popular belief, Vasanti Cosmetics is a brand aimed at women of all ethnicities in every skin tone.  The brand is popular with South Asian  women because its founders are of South Asian descent, however their foundations, lipsticks, shadows and the like come in a range of shades and formulas for ALL SKIN TONES!  With affordable prices and great quality Vasanti should become  a part of your beauty bag too.

Here are my faves:

1. Face Base in V4

Vasanti Face Base in V4

The Face Base Oil-Free Powder Foundation in V4, $25.00, is a part of my daily beauty regimen, the colour matches my skin and feels light on my face despite its even coverage. The powder is available in 10 shades, so no matter what you’ll find your perfect match.

2. Sweden Ultra-Luxe Lipstick with Peptide Technology

Lipstick in "Sweden"

This ultra rich lipstick is a nude pink that is great to wear every day because the shade goes great with so many things! I fell in love with Sweden, $15.00, when makeup artist Kavita Suri used it on me on my wedding reception this past September. From then on it has stayed in my purse!  The lipstick’s main ingredient is Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, which helps  increase lip volume, reduce the appearance of fines lines and smooths the lips surface so you’ll be doing your pout some service when wearing it!

3. Lip Liner in Thames

Lipliner in "Thames"

Thames Ultra Creamy Pencil is a lip liner that  doesn’t feel dry when applied. Again, this is a nude pink with a hint of brown so it is a daily favourite as well.  For only $13.00 you can’t go wrong.


My Bridal Makeup Trial and a Short Q&A with Award Winning Makeup Artist Kavita Suri

Photo courtesy Kavita Suri Spa

How long have you been working as a professional makeup artist and where did you receive your training?

Gosh, I feel like I am aging when I think about “how loooong” I have been working as a professional. At the same time, I will let you know how long I have been working professionally.  I have come a long way, I have been a professional for 13 years. There I said it!
As a make-up artist the word artist is really what it is for me. I was self taught and love the field that I am a part of  because I am constantly creating, whether it be with my bridal clients, teaching and educating others, or marketing my business.

When creating a look for a bride, what do you take into account?

Bridal make-up is my forte, especially makeup for Indian brides. The colours and outfits I get to work with are  inspiring and  so much fun.  I can play up colors with the eye make-up and lips…it’s allowed.

The top three things I take into account are:

1) What the bride WANTS,
2) Her Outfit, and
3) Her personality.

What made you pursue a career in the beauty industry?

Nothing really “made” me pursue my career in the beauty industry. Honestly, it was a journey with trials and successes. It is true, when you love what you do nothing else matters. I just kept on going and I’ve been very blessed with all that I currently have in my life and all the people that show their love and support. I couldn’t be more THANKFUL. ( I sound like I am giving a speech at the Grammy’s, smile).

Name one of your achievements that you are the most proud of or currently excited about?

2010 has been a whirlwind and we are half way through the year, I wonder what God is planning next for me. If it has to be one achievement: I have dreamed of being a role model for girls that always wanted to be a make-up artist! You can do it, it really is possible. You just have to believe in yourself and have the right people around you to support you through it.

Tell me a little about the Kavita Suri Beauty Academy:

It was time for me to share my experience artistically as a Make-up Artist, therefore I started Kavita Suri Beauty Academy in 2008 which allows me to professionally train and certify individuals to enter into the field with confidence. The training is scheduled within 2 weeks with a photo shoot. The best part: it’s  one -on- one, so the student really gets the special attention they need to mprove their skill.

I was approached by the owner of Toronto Aesthetics & Hair Academy this June to provide my professional training with their academy. I was very honored and excited, so of course I accepted with a BIG SMILE. From this Fall onwards, I will be training at both their Scarborough location and their new Brampton location. Of course, my one-on-one training is still available at the Yorkville location.

So ladies sign yourself up if you know you have a make-up artist in you!

How does Kavita Suri define beauty?

To me beauty is what you have inside, your personality and the way you live on a daily basis. It’s not how light your skin is, or how full your lips are, it’s about your beautiful personality.

What is your must-have beauty product that you carry with you all the time?

My must-have is Tahiti Tinted Lip Balm by Vasanti Cosmetics. The perfect trendy chap stick with a hint of color.

As a young and successful entrepeneur, what advice would you give to other young women and girls trying to make it out in the beauty industry?

The first piece of advice that came to my mind when I read this question is “keep your head up.” This industry can be very challenging if you don’t have the right direction. If you know where you want to be in 5 years then keep at it and eventually you will get there.

Anything special you’d like to share with readers of SAS?

I wanted to thank you SAS for doing this piece on me and I wish your blogging adventure to be a continual success.

Thank you Kavita for being the amazing woman you are and taking the time to do this for SAS! Your work and success continues to inspire and motivate other South Asian women to follow their dreams. Make sure you check out her website Kavita Suri Spa and interested brides book her now for your big day! You won’t be disappointed.

If you are a bride who needs some convincing, here’s the beautiful job Kavita did for my makeup trial for my upcoming wedding reception:

Here is the look that I was inspired by from a bridal magazine and here is the jewellery and blouse I'll be wearing at the reception!

Kavita applying air brush makeup

The End Result: Kavita and I were ecstatic, I love it! Be sure to check out my blog after the wedding at the end of September!

As a magazine, beauty and fashion  junkie, one of the biggest criticisms I have of mainstream magazines is the lack of representation of diversity. As a teen I read a lot of  Seventeen, YM and a few other magazines but I had difficulty relating to the women and girls featured on the covers and within the ads. They just didn’t look like me. Our skin colour was different and frankly, I felt excluded. I remember thinking when looking at the covers each month, “I wonder what it would be like if a brown girl was on the cover…that would never happen though!”

To make it clear though, magazine editors and creative directors aren’t trying to portray only one type of woman, or interpreting beauty intentionally in a narrow way. In fact Editor-in-Chief of Anokhi, Hina Ansari, said it best  in the current Entertainment Issue of Anokhi:

“Unfortunately, there is a dearth of actual South Asian models in this industry…the “East Indian” (South Asian)look you refer to  does vary from country to country and region to region in the wonderful mosaic of complexions and features,” (page 8 Anokhi Hears You! ANOKHI July/August 2008 Entertainment Issue).

Hina Ansari raises a valid point, there just aren’t enough South Asian models out there to go around! Plus, most people expect a certain kind of South Asian woman to be portrayed. Yet the label “South Asian” covers a big part of the world including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the list goes on.  So we cannot expect every South Asian model to sport  a saree, or have that stereotypical Bollywood, East Indian appearance in features. Rather, I think the true diversity of the South Asian woman needs to be brought out better in both South Asian publications and within mainstream media. The complexities of our heritage will only be understood if an effort is made to show that South Asian does not equal India!

One amazing South Asian  model who has hit it BIG, who doesn’t fall in that preconceived East Indian look and broke the boundaries for many future South Asian models, is LAKSHMI MENON. Lakshmi Menon is a 27 year-old Bengali bombshell, who was first seen on the runway shows of Jean Paul Gautier and Hermes in 2006. Since then she has been the face of Swatch watches, H&M and Givenchy and appeared in the pages of prestigious magazine brands including Elle India, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Allure.

She’s hot STUFF, see for yourself! Here’s Lakshmi on the cover of Elle India April 2010:

Plus, she’s a role model for all aspiring South Asian models as Menon’s increasing presence in the mainstream fashion industry reaffirms that the world of fashion has room for women of all race and colour.

Check out Lakshmi Menon’s thoughts on her career in this article from New York Magazine from last year.

Now go ahead and suggest my girl crush post to the dudes in your life,  BUT not before you check out my  Annabelle and Marcelle Beauty Giveaway Contest!

For those of you who haven’t already heard, Mani Amar, activist and film maker from B.C. reached a breakthrough in raising awareness about gang violence in the South Asian community in Vancouver and across Canada this week!

His award-winning documentary (2009 International Sikh Film Festival in New York), Warrior’s Religion, is now officially out on DVD and available for purchase  on the official website. 

By spending only $15 on the DVD you will support a noble cause, Amar’s fight to create a safer community for future South Asians and youth of other ethnicities living in the Vancouver mainland.

On the other hand if you are an educator or a leader among social justice organizations for young people, a double disc version with discussion materials for only $25 is also available.

Although A Warrior’s Religion has received criticism from Sikh community leaders because of their misconception of the title, since the young men depicted in the film mostly belong to the Sikh faith group, the film’s name is a metaphor for the lifestyle of these gangsters who see their lives in street gangs as their way of life, salvation and thus therefore “religion.”

Since the problem of gang warfare runs deep among young men whose families are of Sikh faith, Amar’s film raises awareness for this community in hopes of preventing future generations’ deaths. The unbiased documentary includes heartbreaking interviews of parents grieving for the tragic deaths of their young sons, to tense conversations between Amar and former gangster Bal Bhuttar.

The documentary took a total of three years to research and produce for the young Amar, which he funded by working three jobs. A dedicated activist, Amar was determined to see through his goal of producing his film to bring this issue into discussion among community leaders, youth members, educators and like-minded social justice seekers.

I already bought my copy of the documentary, it’s on its way in the mail as I type, stay tuned for my review of the documentary. In the mean time watch the official trailer A Warrior’s religion at Mani’s official website now and make your purchase.

Meanwhile, what’s Mani Amar doing now: currently he is working on his first official feature film, which he envisioned while putting together the research for his documentary. Topics covered include gang violence and sexual violence against women.

Good luck in all of your future endeavours Mani and thank you for serving our community with your hard work and efforts.

Traumatology: A Poetry Anthology

I am sure you all remember Priscila Uppal from my last post on her. Well, this month she is launching a new anthology of poetry in Toronto. Published by Exile Editions the book is available for purchase online.

What: Toronto Book launch for Uppal’s Traumatology and Meaghan Strimas’ A Good Time Had By All

When: Wednesday March 24th, 2010

Time: 8pm

Where: Monarch Tavern in Toronto

Come out for a wonderful evening, I am planning to attend so maybe I will see you there!

Check out my previous post on Priscila for more information about this wonderful author.

For Bollywood fans and Hollywood movie buffs alike, the latest Bollywood movie, My Name is Khan is a must see! Although I love watching Bollywood films, often I find it difficult to justify watching all of them since the industry produces over 600 a year. Choosing the right ones to watch can be difficult. After watching My Name is Khan in the theatre I wanted to make sure to sell, sell, sell the movie to my readers!

So here are my  5 Reasons to Watch My Name is Khan:

1. Bollywood’s Duo Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol Return Together to the Big Screen!

For dedicated Bollywood fans My Name is Khan is a big treat. Do you remember  Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenghe? How about Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? Was Khabhi Kushi Kabhe Ghum one of your favourites?

What do all of these beautifully Bollywood blockbusters have in common?

Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol! And after  9 years the two stars return on screen to steal audiences’ hearts again. Fall in love with the two of them all over again in this captivating and unique romance.

2. The Director, Karan Johar

Karan Johar’s production company Dharma Productions reached international acclaim with movie titles including Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kal Ho Na Hoo, and Kabhi Alvi Da Na Kehna. Known for compelling stories, touching on issues, including adultery and terminal illnesses, Johar built a following of fans, even those who may not watch other Hindi films.

My Name is Khan is no different than any of Johar’s other films as it evokes deep emotions and speaks directly to its viewers about controversial issues other Bollywood directors fear to address. Through his dedication to producing meaningful art, Johar created new archetypes for the Bollywood genre.

3. Disability Advocacy: Autism and Asberger’s Syndrome

The main character Rizwan Khan, played by Shah Rukh Khan has a rare case of autism called Asperger’s Disorder, a pervasive developmental disorder. People with the disability have a good command of language, but lower functioning social skills. For example, people with the syndrome experience trouble in having meaningful personal relationships, difficulty showing emotions, and making eye contact with others.

Rizwan Khan grows up in India facing stigmatism in school from other children, and even from his own brother. Yet, through the support of his mother and later on Kajol’s character, Mandira, and his sister in law, he is able to recieve treatment in order to lead a successful life. Johar’s film sends a message to audiences to accept people with disabilities and to make the effort to educate others about disabilities in order to limit discrimination under these grounds.

4. MNIK Fights Against Islamophobia and Racism

Set in a post-911 political climate, in My Name is Khan Rizwan Khan and his family- Mandira and her son Sam, are faced with discrimination because of Rizwan’s Islamic background (Mandira is of Hindu faith) and the misconceptions people associate with the religion due to media conceptions and the general ignorance of the people living in their neighbourhood.

After facing a terrible loss, Rizwan and Mandira’s inter-religious relationship is tested. To gain back his life and an attempt to find justice for his family, Rizwan makes a proclamation to the world, “My name is Rizwan Khan and I am not a terrorist,” in response to this Islamophobic political context.

Anyone who has either experienced racism because of their ethnicity, skin colour, or religion should watch My Name is Khan. In addition, if you have ever participated in a racist act, or held antagonistic views against a person of a different background watch Johar’s film. The positive message, to value diversity and to love humankind despite our differences, makes this film not only a must see, but a lifelong lesson for generations to come.

5. Media Think!

The buzz leading up to the movie’s release was and remains intense. Everyone is talking about My Name is Khan from Bollywood buffs online, the media- whether its the media in India discussing the controversial topics of the film, or stations here in North America. Plus, Anokhi magazine’s Editor Hina Ansari landed an official interview with Khan himself, so you can read about his reasons for choosing to work on this film at Anokhi onine.

When I first went to watch the movie the shows were all sold out, so I had to return to the theatre the next day for the latest show – the only show left with tickets.

When there is this much BUZZ the best thing to do is just see for yourself what the hype is about!

So don’t just take my word for it, visit the official My name is Khan website to see official trailers, read about the phenomenal director and casting, download free ringtones from the soundtrack, and become a fan even before you head out to your local theatre!

Priscila Uppal: Olympic Poet-in-Residence!

So the Olympics ended tonight!  These Olympics will go down in history as Canada’s athletes made us all feel proud with the 14 gold medals we won, a new Olympic world record for the Winter games!  And for all the crazy hockey fans- BOTH the MEN and WOMEN made us proud with their victories – EH OH CANADA GO!

But these Olympics were special for other reasons too. South Asian literature enthusiasts experienced a treat with poet, academic and novelist Priscila Uppal, who has been writing poems and blog posts in celebration of the athletes and games each day from Vancouver.

Who is Priscila Uppal?

Of mixed Brazilian and South Asian descent, Priscila Uppal is a critically acclaimed poet and novelist, who is also an academic at York University in Toronto. Novels written by Uppal include “To Whom it May Concern “ (2009), a modern retelling of King Lear; and “The Divine Economy of Salvation” (2003).

Uppal also wrote and edited several anthologies of poetry: “Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Women Poets,” co-edited with Rishma Dunlop, features captivating poets, such as Sharanpal Ruprai, Sonnet L’Abbe, and Proma Tagore to name a few. She is also a very active community member: each year Uppal is involved The Scream Literary Festival, a festival celebrating poetry and the spoken word, which culminates in a beautiful mainstage event in Toronto’s High Park each July.

Uppal shows her community involvement again this year as poet-in-residence for the Canadian Athletes Now Fund. The fund supports athletes dreams to compete and train in world competitions including the Olympics and Paralympics. With just $10 a Canadian Athlete’s olympic dreams can be achieved. Donators were given the names of who their donation  supported so they could cheer the athlete on through their events!

Olympic Poems Dedicated to the Athletes

Priscila has been posting poems both on the Literary Review of Canada Blog and the Canadian Athletes Now Fund webpage on the games, winter sports, and the athletes. Each time a Canadian won a gold medal Priscila read a poem aloud to the athletes, their families, and donators in Vancouver. As she shared on the LRC blog on February 12, Uppal feels a deep personal connection and similarity with athletes as an artist, as both athletes and artists work hard to perform and improve without the guarantee of reward or financial gain.

But just because the Olympics are now at an end, doesn’t mean your opportunity to read Priscila Uppal’s poetry is lost! In addition to reading her posts from the past 17 days, Priscila will also be writing for Canada and our athletes for the Paralympics taking place February 12 – 20, 2010. So keep visiting the Canadian Athletes Now Fun and Uppal’s LRC blog!

Thank you for your poetry and inspiring dispatches Priscila! Your another Canadian South Asian woman  making the nation proud!

Get into the Olympic spirit and in-style with Vasanti Cosmetics official Go Canada Palette.

Closing Ceremony Musings

With the Olympics in full swing after yesterday’s breathtaking opening ceremonies, Canadian beauty label Vasanti cosmetics unveiled an official GO CANADA palette that celebrates the Vancouver Olympic Games.

First off, before I gush about Vasanti’s patriotic new palette, sorry for being away from my blog for so long. I was terribly sick for almost two weeks and struggled to juggle classes, while getting rid of this horrible cough! But, I am back now and ready to share with you the endless ideas I thought up to write about as I fought off my cough and pored over beauty and fashion magazines, websites, and great books in bed.

The fiddlers, tap dancers, the flame lighting in the stadium, and KD Lang’s rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” were my favourite moments at the opening ceremonies.

Listen to Cohen’s Hallelujah here. Cohen’s beautiful single was also recorded by Jeff Buckley and Imogen Heap for the OC, it’s so beautiful how one musician’s creation can take on so many unique forms by different artists.
What performances, or memorable moments of the ceremonies did you enjoy? SHARE THEM WITH ME!

Vasanti Cosmetics

For those of you who don’t know Vasanti, here’s a quick rundown. Vasanti Cosmetics was established in 1999 by South Asian BEAUTY divas Pinki Gosal, Monal Patel, and Priti Patel. Vasanti’s entrepreneurs developed special formulas and colours specifically for the Southasian yellow skin tone often not considered in mainstream brands found in drugstores. So Vasanti Cosmetics are a hit with women of South Asian descent because for once the colours match our skin and remain bold all day long.

The palette made for you to sport during the Olympic games includes a white shimmer powder reminiscent of ice rinks and ski slopes; bronze, silver and gold shadows in honour of the Olympic medal colours; and a sexy red gloss in honour of our flag.

Use the eye and lip palette for a glowing day look, or transform the makeup into a makeover for a night on the town by using a black liner on the upper and lower lash lines, apply a coat of DiorShow mascara to your lashes – my  favourite mascara, and a bronzer to highlight your cheekbones. Try Physician Formula’s Bronzer palette. What would you pair with Vasanti’s patriotic palette for a night on the town?

Vasanti’s GO CANADA Palette is available at your local Shoppers, Rexall or directly on their website for a limited time. At the cost of $40.00 this makeover will last you the entire Winter season well into the Spring. I can’t wait to go get mine! Now go support our athletes while flaunting your Olympic inspired beauty!

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