Natasha Janardan is a photographer who lives with her twin sister in Brooklyn. She is also a serious beauty enthusiast who posts her own (incredible) Instagram makeup tutorials. Here, she shares the best drugstore makeup, how to get clump-free mascara, and the foolproof way to remove glitter…
When did you first get into makeup?
Growing up, my mom would say, ‘Put a little kajal on,’ because it’s customary for Indian women to wear eyeliner. But I always resisted! I didn’t start wearing makeup until college, when I got into a black hole of beauty tutorial videos on YouTube. They were fascinating to me. So, on a rec, one day I went to Sephora and bought myself NARS Sheer Glow foundation which is what I wear to this day! I’ve tried other brands, but NARS foundation is amazing for golden undertones and one bottle lasts me a year.
Why did you start posting your own makeup tutorials?
In college, my twin sister Meghal (left) and I both loved following makeup artists, and we would talk about how there wasn’t really anyone doing full-face editorial looks on darker skin tones. In 2015, we started posting two or three videos a week, to a small Tumblr community that was mostly other women of color who were interested in makeup. At first, we didn’t tell anyone we were doing it! Only in the last year did I start posting about makeup on Instagram. But it’s very much a part of who I am.
What’s it like being a twin?
We’ve always gotten along and we naturally have similar ideas and interests. Growing up, our parents tried to make us separate, so we wouldn’t be dependent on each other, but oh well. Now, we live together and share makeup — we have a Muji case where we stack all our products. We don’t share clothing, but we do consult one another about our styles. If we’re not together, we’ll send photos asking, ‘Is this cute?’
Typically, I’d ask about your everyday makeup. But you don’t really do that, do you?
No. [Laughs] For me, there’s no such thing as everyday makeup! It changes every single day. I’ve worn over a hundred different looks, and I don’t like repeating things! Each morning, I’ll think: What’s a color I haven’t used in a while? What’s a shape I haven’t done before? Am I in the mood for glitter or metallic or bright? Then I’ll figure out which products can make it work. If I don’t know what to do, I’ll look at saved photos on Instagram. For inspiration, my all-time favorite is Lisa Eldridge. Her voice is so calming. I also love Salwa Rahman, Celine Bernaerts and Kicki Yang Zhang, who all do really fun makeup.
You’re great about featuring affordable products. What are the heroes of the drugstore makeup aisle?
Physicians Formula waterproof liquid eyeliner is the best. It comes out like a marker, so using it feels familiar. I recommend it to anyone who is afraid of eyeliner! It doesn’t budge, and lasts all day. For bolder looks, Wet n’ Wild MegaLiner makes amazing colored eyeliners. Milani Stay Put Eyeliner is a soft pencil that goes on smoothly and doesn’t tug. I also like Milani mascaras.
While we’re on the subject, what are your tips for applying eyeliner?
The number one rule is to practice it when you have nowhere to go. If you’re on a deadline, you’ll panic and wind up looking like a raccoon. I practiced and practiced until my hand got steadier. Also, experiment using different methods, like using tape as a guideline.
How do you care for and style your hair?
I wash it twice a week and have been wearing it curly to avoid heat styling. I’ll straighten it only if there’s an occasion. I always use sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners; otherwise curly hair can get dried out. While I’m still in the shower, I comb in conditioner, using a wide-toothed comb. The SECOND I get out of the shower, I squeeze out a little water, then put curl cream through it, using my fingers. I like AG Haircare curl activator. I scrunch it with my fingers, then flip my head over and scrunch it again. Then I don’t touch it at all, otherwise it ruins the curl pattern.
Natasha with her two sisters
Let’s talk about eyebrows. How do you groom yours?
I pluck them myself. My trick is to fill them in with a pencil first and THEN pluck them. It helps me see the overall shape and prevents over plucking. For styling, I like the Anastasia brow pencil; and for a drugstore option, the NYX micro brow pencil is great, too. I set my brows with Anastasia clear brow gel, which is amazing and lasts FOREVER.
Have you picked up any tips from working with makeup artists?
I love how they re-think the possibilities of products that have been marketed to you in a very specific way. They’ll use lipstick as blush, or put eyeshadow on lips. Using bronzer as eyeshadow is common, too. I’ve actually used liquid lip color on my eyes, applied with a tiny angled brush (like above). It’s very similar in formula to eyeliner, but lipsticks tend to be more pigmented and easier to draw with.
Do you have any tricks when it comes to mascara?
When I apply it, I’ll blink my eyes and roll the wand into my eyelashes as I’m blinking. That way, the bristles get into my lashes, which helps comb them and curl them up. Try to concentrate the mascara at the roots, which is more impactful and helps prevent clumping. Then make short little strokes on the tips. When you get too much on the tip, that’s when you get spidery lashes.
What’s your daily skincare routine?
I only use plain, unscented Aveeno body lotion — on my body and face. Any time I’ve tried anything else, my skin breaks out. To remove makeup before bed, I use First Aid Beauty makeup remover, which is my favorite. And then the Aveeno.
What about in the shower?
Since childhood, I’ve only used Lever 2000 bar soap, which I buy in bulk at Costco. When I moved to New York I brought 40 bars of soap with me!
Since you’ve tried everything, I must ask, what is your number one stand-out product?
Bodyography glitter pigments are amazing, because they’re super easy to use. The pigment is already suspended in a primer, so you can use your finger to swipe it on, and then you can make it sheer or build it up to be more intense. My favorite shade is Caviar, which has a shiny iridescence to it, almost like oil.
The million-dollar question: How does one remove glitter?
The best way to remove glitter is with regular painter’s tape. It’s not abrasive, you simply press it on your eye (or wherever the glitter is) and it takes it right off. When I travel, I’ll take a tiny roll of painter’s tape with me. It’s a game changer.
Last but never least, what’s your personal beauty philosophy?
People always ask, ‘How are you comfortable walking around with such wild makeup?’ I’m lucky because I live in Brooklyn, where anything seems normal. But I also think everyone should wear makeup for themselves — no matter how little or how much. Wear whatever feels good to you. If you’re not sure, try red lipstick when you’re at home by yourself to get comfortable with it. As long as you feel at ease with what you’re wearing, that’s all that matters.
Thank you so much, Natasha!
P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, including an activist and a hair stylist.
(Photos courtesy of Natasha Janardan.)