Natasha Ali Lakhani weaves magic with her fingers. An artist who is in love with her craft, Natasha revels in the process of creating a new look, a new hue, a new blend of shades, a new exquisiteness. With her colours and strokes, she conjures up a world in which her subject is the central character of their own epic. That’s what I thought when I saw, last year, a YouTube session of Natasha’s masterclass of her Beyond Beauty Natasha brand. As someone who doesn’t know the ABC of make-up and beautification, fascinated, I watched her hands do so much and so effortlessly with her branded brushes, foundations, concealers, eyeshades, liners, and other beauty products to create a novel wholeness—a beauty unique to the young woman sitting in front of Natasha.
Immaculate looks, strong and sensual in chiffon, chamois and silk saris in dazzling colours, radiant faces enhanced with make-up, glamour that is larger than life yet very real, Natasha’s world has always been resplendent with stunning women who are proud homemakers, mothers, high achievers, strongly individualistic, and very, very feminine. Natasha’s grandmother, Pakistan’s legendary Madam Noor Jehan, was not merely a music institution in herself, her glamorous, one-of-a-kind aesthetic remains unparalleled.
Interestingly, Madam Noor Jehan’s female progeny not just inherited her artistic side, in one form or the other, they were also gifted with her beauty and glam genes: oldest daughter late Zil-e-Huma, the renowned, much loved singer; younger daughters Hina Durrani, jewellery and interior designer; Mina Hassan, fashion designer; and Nazia Ejaz, one of Pakistan’s most prominent artists; and granddaughters Sonya Jehan, film and TV artist; Sabrina Khalid, stylist; and Natasha, one of Pakistan’s leading make-up and style artists and beauty influencers. Strong, lovely women who live by their own rules, and use their art to make the world a more inclusive, a more openhearted, a more positive place.
Working with her mother Hina Durrani, and sister, Sabrina Khalid, Natasha, a multi-award nominated creative visionary, has turned their love for what they do into a solid corporate entity. Their commitment to mainstreaming style and glamour is a thriving business, a labour of love meticulously developed over years. In the age of technology when national, regional, and international audience is a click away, Natasha’s company utilizes the importance of social media to reach, engage, inform, and market their knowledge and products.
Hina, Natasha and Sabrina’s Beyond Beauty Natasha is also a powerful statement that flaws do not make you imperfect; it is societal conditioning that miscreates the idea of “perfect” beauty. Self-empowerment, in myriad forms, prepares you to push that idea into a corner perpetually in shadows. Knowing who you are constructs your personal style with a self-assuredness that tackles your secret fears, that nagging self-doubt, that subliminal insecurity. Style despite being an individual statement is a collective celebration of the idea of looking and feeling good and being secure in one’s colour, facial features, body type, mental abilities, emotional intelligence—skin deep and beyond. Beyond Beauty Natasha is doing that and much more.
Celebrity and bridal makeup, beauty and fashion editorials, and online masterclasses, Beyond Beauty Natasha goes “beyond all myths that define beauty, and include, accept, and normalize ‘all kinds of beautiful’”, the company’s tagline. In 2021, Beyond Beauty Natasha launched Noor, focusing initially on creating contemporary saris that have a classic feel. In “Real Talk” on Natasha’s YouTube channel, regular conversations range on subjects important to women’s mental and professional wellbeing. With her 1.1 million followers on Instagram, everything Natasha posts on her social media instantly becomes a style statement.
For Gulf News, I asked Natasha Ali Lakhani a few questions:
Mehr Tarar: Your bridal make-up, instead of being the traditional too much of everything, is artistry with colours and brushes that paints loveliness on any face. What is the idea behind your signature make-up for a look that is not a cosmetic but a personal enhancement of every individual’s unique beauty?
Natasha Ali Lakhani: You said it in your question. For me makeup is art, and the makeup look that I create on an individual is always to highlight and enhance their best features but by blending, structuring, and creating in a subtle way. For me, what is most important is that the woman who I am doing makeup on should be the central part of the look, not the makeup itself, which Is what happens when too much of cosmetics is piled onto an individual’s face. I want the woman I do makeup on to be told, once she is ready, that she is the most beautiful woman in the room. Some of the biggest makeup artists shall always transform a face using subtle elegant strokes. That is what I do when I create on a face: celebrate the woman herself, not overpower her with makeup.
What is the philosophy of your brand Beyond Beauty Natasha, the family enterprise you run with your mother, the ageless beauty Hina Durrani, and your sister Sabrina Khalid?
We rebranded in 2020 right around the time I gave birth to my daughter Shahnoor. I feel that her birth really made me think of the legacy that I want to leave for her and all the females who follow us on our social media platforms. My mother Hina and sister Sabrina also felt that we had to evolve the brand and use our platform to say so much more than just displaying our makeup talent. From Natasha Salon, we became Beyond Beauty Natasha, with the tag line “All Kinds of Beautiful.” Our ethos is that beauty has no boundaries, there is no one kind of beautiful, and that every individual has a unique beauty that must be celebrated.
As South Asians, we have always had our culture and media push a particular kind of beauty. We wanted to challenge that by displaying on our social media platforms a variety of South Asian beauty that is not celebrated enough. All kinds of skin tones, all skin colours, all hair textures, all body shapes, all heights, and all features are celebrated on our social media platforms, and we intend to diversify further in that direction as we evolve. The content we post has much thought behind it, and perhaps that has made us connect with our audience in a more authentic and a real way. Every day, we get so many women identifying with a picture, a video, or a quote we post because they feel represented. And that to me is our biggest achievement.
What are the major components of your brand, Beyond Beauty Natasha, which is not merely bridal and celebrity makeup, and glamformations?
Beyond Beauty Natasha has a variety of components today as we have evolved from a studio and salon that focused on bridal and celebrity makeup and glamformations to include a lot more. Our fashion editorials, where we have always pushed the envelope, have been one of the reasons we gained a huge following as editorial makeup is still a very niche market in Pakistan. For me, editorial makeup is where we display our creative muscle, and I always encourage those wanting to join the business of beauty to focus on that as much as they do on makeup. We have created the first online beauty platform out of Pakistan called Beyond Beauty Natasha School where we have a variety of video tutorials that go into the depths of makeup artistry.
We also run our Beauty Masterclass, which is a one-of-a-kind beauty course focused on tools needed to become a makeup artist to reckon with. We also run our 100-Watt Skin Masterclass, which dives deep into all things skincare. Our Transformation Class is focused on how health, diet and lifestyle are the true secrets to being beautiful in an organic way, from the inside out. Last year, we also launched our YouTube channel, Beyond Beauty Natasha, which has a huge library of high-definition makeup tutorials for makeup enthusiasts and for all those who can’t afford to pay for classes but want to enhance their makeup skills.
There is also a variety of videos on skincare and my DIYs that our audience love. Under the moniker “Real Talk” I also make videos on important social topics related to South Asian women, as well as videos on mental health issues. Instagram and Facebook are also platforms that we constantly develop content for, allowing us to stay true to our ethos.
Noor by Natasha is the fashion brand that we launched last year, with our first collection of saris that were an homage to my most beautiful and talented grandmother Noor Jehan.
There is still so much that we are planning on doing, but, as always, we want to stay true to our ethos and create on our own timeline and pace.
The idea of beautification is as old as humanity. The business of beauty seems to have undergone an almost complete restructuring in the last two decades. How do you transition the old ethos of glamour and looking beautiful into 2022’s digital world in which beauty is a rapidly changing dynamic?
Whilst the rise of the digital world has given huge platforms to artists and creators, such as myself, and have opened a world audience to everyone with fingertips, I feel it has also given rise to insecurities and a disconnect from what is real and most important. I feel classic glamour and beauty is timeless and shall stand the test of time. We live in a world of things going viral, rising and crashing in a matter of days. It’s all disposable and transient, which is why it’s so important for me to create and not be influenced by what is going to go most viral or get the most views and likes, but something that shall resonate with a human being—an idea, a thought that will comfort and lift people and inspire them.
In today’s digital world that is to me an illusion, it’s more important than ever for us as a brand to be rooted in what is classic and shall always remain so. Also because of the toxic culture of perfection that our current media pushes, creating legions of insecure women, we also want to keep lifting that veil and posting on our social media platforms all that is real. I always say that whilst I love creating illusions with makeup as well, I always remind women that follow me that it is an illusion. Perfection does not exist, and what a boring world it would be if we were all perfect. The irregularities, the imperfections, the heartbreaks, and the ups and downs are what make life worth living and are necessary for our evolution as individuals and as a species. So, embrace all your flaws, and celebrate all kinds of beauty. That is what I intend to always do on my digital media platforms.