Bollywood actress and entrepreneur Sunny Leone knows a thing or two about what men want … in make-up.
So, naturally the founder of beauty brand ‘Star Struck By Sunny Leone’ is keen to cater to the growing demand by challenging stereotypical gender norms. Her knowledge and interest in expanding her beauty empire is not skin-deep or so it seems.
“A men’s make-up line is definitely in the works and I want to create something that is male-friendly … I think that men’s grooming is definitely the next step for me,” said Leone in an interview with Gulf News.
The actress was in the UAE last week to launch her new line of beauty products from her existing collection for women at the on-going CBBC sale at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
“I want to create the perfect go-to pouch for men in our collection where it all comes together for a man ... Men, just like us women, like to see things packaged in a certain way,” said Leone.
Her adoration for her own three-year-old beauty line was evident when she plucked her own product in rose pink packaging and gazed it like a proud mother of a newborn.
“These are my lockdown babies … During our COVID-19 lockdown period, we settled down on what exactly we wanted to release in and post-lockdown. So all the things that are brand new that you are looking at were formulated before and during lockdown. We had a lot of time to look into the details,” said Leone.
When it comes to marketing and branding, nobody does it better than Leone. She’s the kind of star who can sell sand in a desert and look striking while doing so.
During this interview, organised by Parellellines Media Network, there was a make-shift makeup counter displaying her new range of products and she was quick to talk them up. Dressed in a short printed silk dress with green hoops, her face done up with her own beauty products — a point that she drove home at several points. She’s her biggest cheerleader and we believe her.
“They are absolutely amazing. And Daniel [Weber] my husband, my team, and I have all worked really, really, hard to create a lot of new things for people to use,” said Leone.
The mother of three young children, who grew up in Canada and sanctioned her own on-screen story with ‘Karenjit Kaur — The Untold Story of Sunny Leone’, is the queen of re-inventing the wheel.
Her journey took her to being a participant on Indian reality show ‘Bigg Boss’ and then to a Bollywood actress. She claims that’s personally invested in her beauty line to the extent that she tries everything on and knows about every ingredient that goes into her formula.
“I am not just talking about trying it on. I am involved in the entire process of how a formula is created, what it smells like, what it feels like, what the texture is going to be. I even know how much pigment is inside the lipsticks, the eyeshadow, and the mascara. In fact, I am so particular about the brushes of the mascara wand even. It took me some time to decide what I wanted with the brush itself,” said Leone, adding that every ‘tiny detail’ is whetted by her.
And her life philosophy? She doesn’t care about what other celebrity make-brands do with their resources.
“I only know what I do and it’s OK not to focus on what they are doing because then your judgment gets clouded, right? Because you feel like you should be like somebody else then,” said Leone. She lives by that principle too.
Leone, who was famously discovered by director-producer-actress Pooja Bhatt and launched in Bollywood with the thriller ‘Jism 2’ in 2012, has endeared herself to Hindi movie fans with her amiable and glamorous persona. But acting and dancing in musicals isn’t her only love. Just like any celebrity worth their salt, she’s all about diversifying her brand.
“I think all people who work in entertainment should definitely branch out in different fields stemming from their passions or interests. My interest has always been beauty and make-up and I love make-up and products. So it was easy for me to decide what was good and what was not,” said Leone. And she believes that she knows and understand women and how shifting brand loyalties can be a tough task. She seems to have a pulse on what women want too.
“And as a woman I know how difficult it is sometimes to make the switch over to that new beautiful red lipstick because we all have our favorites. So the least I can do is try on all my products on me before they try it out and just hope they like it and make that switch because it’s a great formula,” said Leone. The last two years of the global pandemic have also taught her a lot. Her family shuttled between Mumbai and Los Angeles where they own homes. But despite their wealth and privilege, COVID-19 proved to be the biggest leveller.
A lot of the factories that manufactured her make-up products shut down during COVID-19, says Leone, and that forced her to narrow down what she wanted exactly when it came to her new line of products. She’s also her own proverbial lab rat, she points out.
“I don’t remember the last time I went shopping for a different brand. I just use my make-up every day and I feel really good about it.”
Quick take with Sunny Leone on make-up and beauty:
Do you use primer for your eyes?
I sometimes do and I sometimes don’t. It just depends on the time I have in hand.
Do you use concealer first or use it after foundation?
I always use foundation after concealer.
Do you go for manicures or do you do it yourself?
I work a lot and sometimes you are in the middle of nowhere with no salon, so a girl has got to do what she has to do. But if there’s a salon, I head there for a manicure.
How long does it take for you to do your own make up?
A maximum of 30 minutes and no more.
Do you wear make-up every day and everywhere?
I don’t wear make-up everywhere, but I do wear make-up every day.
What’s a beauty product that you are obsessed with this season?
There’s this beautiful blue eyeliner from my line which will look good on anyone. It’s one of my favourites and I wish to see everyone give it a shot.
“When you think of the best of the best, Dubai comes to your mind. It’s the ultimate place where you see beauty all around you,” said Leone, about this City.