Shame on Lakmé

Hi, my loves!

Before I begin, please note that the topic I’m about to share my thoughts on is extremely personal and important to me. I’ve written about it on my blog a few times, but this time, the actions that this particular brand has taken are absolutely appaling and I felt like I needed to speak up and make my voice, our voices, heard.

Now, onto the topic of today’s post, which is about the Indian beauty brand, Lakmé.

So basically, as we all know, the brand has never really been inclusive, alright. If you go onto their website, you can see that all of their base products (foundations, compact powders, etc.) have an extremely limited shade range, the lowest being 3 and the highest being 6 (!). Yup, you read that right. That’s really about it.

Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 7.41.17 PM
Image obtained from
Screen Shot 2018-06-22 at 7.41.53 PM
Image obtained from

Oh, and I’m not trying to single Lakmé out here, alright. I know brands like Maybelline and L’Oreal have limited shade ranges available in India, both for their True Match and Fit Me! lines, but (not to defend them, because there is no excuse for a limited shade range/availability) they’re international brands. (cough~Pond’s BB cream~cough)

Lakmé, on the other hand, is a homegrown, Indian brand. And it is truly appaling that they don’t have an extensive shade range because from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, there exist a multitude of different skin-tones in India.

But, their recent releases are really what pushed me over the edge and made me completely boycott this brand.

They had recently launched a CC cream for which they only had two shades at the time of release. They introduced two deeper shades months later. Wow Lakmé, here’s a cookie for you for barely catering to your consumer base. Oh, and I couldn’t even buy the first and only two shades they’d released, because I’m medium-tan (for reference, NC 30 in MAC).

This clearly demonstrates how darker skin-tones for them are an afterthought. Fairer consumers get to enjoy a potentially wonderful product but not dusky/deep/dark consumers. Why? Are we second-class citizens to you? Do we not deserve to walk into a store and not feel lost looking for something to match us? Are we not important? This is a stupid move not just from an ethics perspective, but from a business perspective too. More shades mean more people who’d buy the product, which would also help expand your consumer base and increase sales.

And now, their most recent release, which is what really got to me. It is disgusting. And when I say disgusting, I mean they’re now doing worse than Physician’s Formula or Tarte.

They released a compact powder with sunscreen in it, SPF 40. In theory, a wonderful product. An amazing innovation for the Indian market. Execution-wise, I wouldn’t really know, I haven’t bought it.

Why you ask?

Well, it only comes in one shade. Yup.

One. Shade. Which they have the audacity to call universal.

And that shade, my friends, looks a lot like the colour of my whitewashed walls to me.

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As you can see, there is no shade selection available. There is only one shade / Image obtained from
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“Available in a universal shade that is suitable for all skin tones” / Image obtained from

I’m so done and fed up with brands (that too homegrown Indian ones) perpetuating the idea of colourism and that “fair equals better”. Lakmé is such a repeat offender and by the way, they have the audacity to call themselves “an expert on Indian beauty for over 50 years”, on their official website. An “expert in Indian beauty” would know that there are humans here that exist with varying skin tones. Just a heads up, in case these supposed “experts” didn’t notice.

It’s sad that they feel that anyone who is duskier does not deserve their products. Is it not enough that colourism is already so deeply rooted and ingrained in our society and minds? Is it not enough that women and men all across our country are bombarded with fairness products and told they’re lesser, or they wouldn’t get their dream jobs, or no one would ever like them because they’re dark? No, of course, they wouldn’t do the right thing and be inclusive. Of course, like most Indian beauty brands, they send out their representatives to beauty counters across India telling them to convince us to buy foundations lighter than our skin tone, for a “bright, fair look”. (Don’t believe me? See my experience here) And of course, they decide to make money off it.

While colourism is still very much rampant in India, discrimination based off skin-colour was actually the most visible in British-ruled India, where fair individuals were thought to be of a higher status. The Britishers very much backed this idea up, and fairer people were subsequently given many more opportunities in terms of education and employment than their duskier counterparts. Moreover, this skin colour bias has long been deeply rooted in our caste system as well, which very much exists to date. This is because since upper castes weren’t involved in tedious, outdoor labour like the lower castes, they tended to stay indoors and had light brown skin. And this brand, this mentality, this caste system, my friends, is the result of an expertly executed social experiment by the British, which plagues Indian society to date.

The reason I’m giving a mini-history lesson on colourism?

Because what is truly saddening is that an Indian brand like Lakmé has decided to further perpetuate this. And we’re letting them. My question is, what about the rest of us who run deeper than “light-medium”? Do we not deserve the same things that fair people do? Are you just not going to cater to us, or worse, will we continue to be just an afterthought to you all?

For the record, you can log on and see reviews of this product all over YouTube and on various blogs. It actually does have coverage, it is NOT transparent, and leaves a white cast. Hence my issue with the brand.

If any of you are going to come for me saying that “it’s harder and expensive to make deeper shades”, no it isn’t. Just have a look at brands like Colourpop and Wet N Wild. Their products are literally dirt cheap! I believe their foundations retail for $12 and $6, respectively. I mean, come on, if they can do that why can’t we? Oh, and I’m just talking about shades right now. If I start talking about undertones, this post will never end. What about those of us who are fair with warm undertones, or deeper with cool undertones?

Shame on you, Lakmé, and a long overdue FUCK YOU from my side.

Any of my dusky/deep/dark people reading this, I would like to just go ahead and state that you are important. Just because you have a deeper skin-tone, it does not mean that you’re a second-class citizen. It does not mean that you are not being looked out for, it does not mean that you are any less than anyone who is fairer. I know, living in India, everyone keeps attempting to use fairness cream after fairness cream and attain a fairer skin-tone, and it can be hard not to get caught up in that.

Please share this post on whichever platforms you can/wish, with the hashtags #darkisbeautiful and #shameonlakme. I want our voices to be heard and hopefully, together we can spark a change.

As always, please let me know what you think in the comments below x

Oh, and by the way, I managed to be super productive (or did I…?) and finally started a public Instagram for my blog! I’d love it if you’d follow me here and keep up with me in real time.



Posted by

Makeup geek, writer, and musician from New Delhi, India. Pretty much in a constant mood of casual existential despair, but hey, I’m trying to make the best of it x

11 thoughts on “Shame on Lakmé

  1. What a shame that they had a chance to be different and rise to the occasion and instead did the complete opposite. 😦 It seems many brands only offer a small variety of shades and many are left out. Thankfully a few brands seem to be taking note and doing something about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In India despite having such a varied skin tones as you travel the length of the country, Fromm Kashmir to Kanyakumari – it’s sad that Indian brands do not take cognisance of the fact that you need to cater all types of customers! Hope Lakmé wakes up

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree it is awful that some companies only carry lighter skin tone shades. It is especially awful that an Indian company would follow in that path instead of catering to everyone.


  4. Sis, go through their foundation swatches on Instagram and you will see complaints under the pictures. LiveTinted has also called them out for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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