Beauty Centre. The low-frills, high-discount wholesale store chain is where to go to see how India really shops for beauty.
Have you ever been to Beauty Centre? You must go. Because every one of their million products is sold much cheaper than elsewhere. Because their mad-crazy variety awakens the comparison shopper inside every Indian. But mostly because to shop at Beauty Centre is to laugh in the perfectly made-up face of the beauty industry.
(Photo: Kalpak Pathak)
The stores – they have monster multi-floor outlets in Crawford Market and Khar – are all out pandemonium at any time of the day or week. Squeeze in, leave your Mister waiting outside, hold your purse close, and keep your eyes open. This is where...
...Million dollar ad campaigns featuring Rihanna for Mac mean nothing at all.
Me: Yeh RiRi Woo lipstick ka tester hai?
Saleslady: Nahi. Lekin ekdum Ruby Woo jaisa ha. Laal aur matte finish. Revlon ka test karke dekho.
...All those magazine tips about foundation testing fly out the window
Me: Loreal ka Matte Morphose foundation dikhana.
Sales lady grabs the inside of my arm, which is six shades lighter than my face, and spreads a colour that is too light.
Saleslady: Dekho perfect match!
Me: Bahut light hai!
Saleslady: Thoda light hona chahiye. Nahi to kaise pata chalega ki foundation lagaya hai?
...Men will surprise you
Me, to female staffer: Yeh mascara waterproof hai?
Female staffer: Salim, eh Salim! Aa idhar. Dekh toh, yeh water proof hai?
*Salim, a 20ish Salman-type, shuffles by, squints at the packaging*
Salim: Hai toh waterproof! Saath mein oily make-up remover be le lo.
...And the fellow shoppers are crazy
Staffer to the woman ahead of me at billing: Madam, total is Rs 8,932. Cash ya card?
Staffer: Two percent tax lagega. Kuch 178...
Woman: Baap re! Phir cash!
Pulls out wad of notes to save Rs 200
...No one calls a fake a fake
Me, eyeing a neutral eyeshadow set that looks suspicious: Yeh Bobbi Brown palette asli hai?
Them: Asli hai, lekin China se.
Me: Toh nakli hai?
Them: Nahi. Nahi. Asli hi hai, same shades. China ki factory se.
...But you can trust an old friend
Me: Maybelline Collosal eyeliner achcha hai?
Longtime staffer: Aapke favourite Chambor Dazzle se behtar toh kuch nahi hai! Mat lo.
...And there’s always fun to be had listening to the talk
- May-Be-Lyin’ (Maybelline)
Beauty junkies, you can be seduced by the soft-glow of a Chanel boutique, dock at the island of hope in Shoppers Stop, or drool over sleek black Mac.
You can even shop at the bright-lit, shady dealing Beautiful (Khar) or Kunchal’s (GK-II) and pretend you get your goods from abroad. But the delights of Beauty Centre are where the real story is playing out.
Rachel Lopez knows there are too many food and beauty blogs out there, and yet, here she is with one of her own, 'Palate/Palette.'
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From HT Brunch, March 13
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