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Indian make-up maven Debasree Banerjee finds fans across the world with a simple philosophy: brown is beautiful

Debasree Banerjee, a makeup influencer from Mumbai, has gained a global following with her simple message that ‘brown is beautiful.’ Through her makeup videos on Instagram and YouTube, Banerjee has connected with women from around the world, including those from the Middle East and the United States, who share her deeper complexion and have historically been overlooked by the cosmetics industry.

Banerjee, who started experimenting with makeup videos a decade ago after graduating from university and moving to Mumbai, is now a full-time beauty and lifestyle influencer with over half a million followers. She was inspired by British beauty content creators, but realized there were no role models who looked like her. She credits Rihanna’s makeup line, Fenty Beauty, which offered 40 shades of foundation, for bringing greater inclusiveness to the cosmetics industry and changing the game.

India’s beauty and personal care market has exploded in recent years, fueled by cheap internet data, rising income levels, and a large population of young people. The industry is now worth $15 billion annually, with projections to double by 2030. Homegrown e-commerce platform Nykaa has made global cosmetic brands easily accessible to Indians and was one of the most-anticipated IPOs in India in 2021.

Other Indian influencers like Faby, a cosmetic stylist with nearly 900,000 Instagram followers, have also gained popularity by promoting self-love and inclusiveness in beauty. Faby has transformed her apartment into a studio with professional lights and camera equipment to create online tutorials. Despite the taxing nature of the work, the money earned from brand collaborations allows her to support herself and her mother.

India’s government has recognized the growth of online content creation and recently introduced a 10 percent tax on promotional gifts worth over 20,000 rupees ($244), which affects a part of the country’s $120 million influencer market. This move targets influencers who advertise products that are beyond the purchasing power of most Indians, as luxury beauty products can be expensive, sometimes costing more than what many households pay for groceries in a week.

In response to the cost barrier, other Indian influencers like Kavita Jadon have gained popularity by showing their audience how to achieve beauty on a budget. Jadon, a housewife and mother-of-two, creates videos on Facebook showing how to make DIY beauty products using local and affordable ingredients, such as moisturizer and coffee grinds, and has gained over 169,000 followers. Her homemade product ideas are the result of trial and error, and she encourages the use of local products to create beauty products at home.


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