The following post is brought to you by JustNeema North Carolina-based company, inspired by nature and ancient Indian roots to infuse science with the medicinal secrets of the Neem tree. JustNeem has funded a Neem Tree orchard that is growing Neem trees in the Sahara Desert region of Mauritania, West Africa. Grown in their sustainable Neem Tree orchard, the West African Neem has shown to have one of the highest concentrations of active natural compounds. This high-potency Neem is in every product they make. JustNeem gives back to the community in West Africa by planting trees, offering well-paying jobs, supporting families and teaching new skills in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of the world. | All photos in this post are courtesy of Kamini Ramdeen

Feeling beautiful from the inside-out is one of the hardest challenges for almost anyone — no matter your gender identity, background, culture or genetics. Not to mention external-unspoken pressures put on us by society dictating what is and isn’t beautiful is one of the biggest reasons many of us grow up insecure with low confidence or poor self-esteem. When we take the time to put ourselves first and make time daily to care for our skin, we automatically feel better about ourselves. Partnering with skincare brands like JustNeem, that believe in producing only fair trade, all natural, cruelty-free products that are not only good for our skin but are also good for the planet, helps us care for ourselves and others in a more holistic way.

[Read Related: JustNeem: The Bridge Between Indian Roots and Modern Skincare is Finally Here]

We collaborated with four self-identifying South Asian women — Maesha, Sneha, Ashni and Trisha — who shared thoughts on what it takes to feel beautiful, how often they leave the house with a full face of makeup on, their personal skincare journeys, how much is skincare a priority in their lives, and which JustNeem product from the Facial Care Set ($34.99) do they resonate with the most.

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Maesha  / @mvesha

Outside of being a lifestyle blogger and dancer on Instagram, Maesha is an entrepreneur and education advocate attending Barnard College of Columbia University. She resonates with JustNeem’s soap bar the most because growing up she heard a lot about her parents using neem soap to restore irritated skin.

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What does feeling beautiful mean to you?

The definition of beauty has been obscured and misunderstood over time to fit the standards set by society, by colonial-influenced agendas (colorism), and oftentimes by media. For me, feeling beautiful is redefining what beauty is. It means feeling good about my choices, feeling empowered, and feeling happy.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

I do not wear makeup on the go when I am busy or running to classes, I am usually bare-face or have just some mascara and concealer, however when it comes to social gatherings or attending anything outside of school, I do find myself wearing more makeup. It becomes normalized and engrained to look ‘put together’ (very subjectively defined), which makes it difficult to cut slack on a full face sometimes.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

Photoshopping and the prevalent beauty standards plastered on magazines are often unrealistic. They perpetuate a cycle of self-loathing and a depletion of self-confidence as people trying to go to extremes in order to fit into these standards (hint hint, let’s not forget fair and lovely marketing and photoshopped images of women’s complexion being lightened 5x their shade). Focusing on natural regimes/holistic treatments to tackle prevalent beauty problems face by many South Asian women — whether it’s hyperpigmentation, dark circles, or acne — is a better and healthier approach to helping women/men feel more comfortable, beautiful, and empowered.

Does making skin care a priority help with your overall confidence?

Absolutely, you can wear a smile but a nice glow on your face says it all! I feel more confident when I wake up with better skin. Every day is a work-in-progress and every now and then, there are problematic breakouts. When my skin finally restores itself, it is always a moment to celebrate and feel proud of!

Why is using all natural products important to you?

Using natural/organic products not only have a plethora of health and beauty benefits, but it is also just so much better for the environment. Being able to do your skin justice while also refraining from harmful chemicals makes the beauty-process that much more rewarding! Plus, fragrances and harsh chemicals are always a tricky route and in the long run, are not as rewarding for our pores/skin. That’s why I love JustNeem’s Fragrance-Free Neem Soap. It has all the great natural ingredients without a strong fragrance and leaves my face super clean.

Sneha Goud  / @sneha_goud

A public policy advocate living and working in New York City, Sneha had an affinity for the face mask, which Sneha says has a fresh, natural scent unlike the overwhelming artificial fragrance of other brands. 

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What does feeling beautiful mean to you?

Feeling confident in myself makes me feel beautiful. When I am happy with my work, my relationships, and my health, I feel beautiful. Often when I have a lot of makeup and fancy clothes on, I actually feel more self-conscious than beautiful.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

Hardly ever! Maybe if I just have to run to the store on my block, I won’t put on makeup. Otherwise, I almost always have some foundation and powder on. Even if I know I won’t see anyone I know, I feel incomplete. It’s like leaving the house without my purse, I feel like I forgot something.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

I look at Instagram and ads online and see girls with perfect skin and bodies. I’m self-conscious about the dark spots and dryness on my skin and would much rather use natural products that make my skin and body feel healthy than cover up imperfections.

Tell us about your skincare journey from childhood to now?

I always had the darkest skin in my peer group — both among South Asians and others. Despite this, skincare wasn’t something I thought about much until I hit middle school. Then I started noticing how my dark skin made dry spots more obvious and the lack of makeup options for me. I grew extremely self-conscious in pictures, especially around lighter-skinned friends.

In college and young adulthood, I became more confident in myself and this maturity extended to my skin. I figured out what skincare products worked for me (and what didn’t). Though I found products I liked, I still feel like I don’t have the same options other girls do.

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Does making skin care a priority help with your overall confidence?

Being healthy and using products that promote a healthy body is a huge priority for me. The healthier my skin looks and feels makes me more comfortable in my looks and choices.

Why is using all natural products important to you?

Our bodies are exposed to so many toxins every day. The foods we eat and the products we use often have hidden chemicals that are harming our health. Using natural products as much as possible makes me feel like I am reversing some of the ill effects caused by the environment, and that’s why I love JustNeem’s Clay Mask even more because firstly it removes all the toxins in my skin and secondly, it’s all natural.

Ashni Mehta  / @ashnii

A blogger, dancer and digital strategist at the Brennan Center for Justice, Ashni said she’s never experienced such visible results so quickly! The Cure Oil replenished months of dry skin from the winter in just a few short days, she went on to say about the Facial Care Set.

justneemWhat does feeling beautiful mean to you?

To me, feeling beautiful has always meant being unapologetically and fearlessly myself. It’s about feeling confident in my own skin, not just despite my flaws but because of them. Most importantly, it means being happy in my skin — with or without makeup.

How often do you leave the house without a full face? How hard is it to do so?

Actually, pretty often! I try to let my skin breathe as often as possible and only wear makeup a few times a week. It took quite a while for me to get comfortable being in public with no makeup on, but it is truly liberating being able to embrace and appreciate my flaws as part of my journey.

What if more brands and companies focused on making women/men feel beautiful with skincare and holistic treatments as opposed to photoshopping?

For as long as I can remember, society has been feeding us images that conflate beauty with being lighter — in both skin tone and weight. We’re constantly being told to aspire to ideals of beauty that are nowhere near realistic or representative of a majority of women. I think it’s time for all brands to ditch photoshop and take on a more natural and holistic approach. We, as a society, need to eliminate the pressure to look a certain way and encourage women to embrace their natural beauty.

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Tell us about your skincare journey from childhood to now?

Skincare honestly wasn’t something I thought much about until pretty recently. The stress from balancing my full-time job, dance and my blog caused me to break out more and more often — something that I had never really experienced growing up. It forced me to slow down and prioritize my health. I knew I wanted a long-term solution without having to rely on medications or chemical-based products, so I experimented with homemade face masks and other natural skincare products. Now, I know the types of products that work for my skin type and will lead to healthier skin.

Why is using all natural products important to you?

There are so many proven benefits to using natural skincare products, the reasons are endless! I’ve also found that natural products work better for me over a long period of time, and more importantly, they are more sustainable for the environment, which is why JustNeem’s Facial Care Set is a win-win, it has all the elements I need to keep my face hydrated and healthy, and the environment a better place. 

No matter what tone, shade or condition your skin is in, we all feel better and have more confidence with healthy skin. We should all be able to feel beautiful without make-up or photo filters. Being mindful of making yourself a priority and celebrating your individuality is a step toward self-assurance. Not to mention, we feel a sense of accomplishment when we choose products that are good for the environment and lift those less fortunate along the way. Self-care and doing good for planet Earth is not a fad, it’s here to stay, so that’s why ordering JustNeem’s all-natural Facial Care Kit has been a priority for us to continuously share in the hopes you’ll give them a try and put your best face forward.

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