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October 31, 2019

Bollywood vs. Hallyu: How Beauty in Popular Indian Cinema Compares to K-Dramas

Move over dewy and doll-like. We’re here for the over-the-top, super glam looks of Bollywood beauty.


Bollywood. The very name conjures up images of sumptuous sets, sultry actresses, and extravagant song and dance picturizations. As an Asian cultural export, Bollywood rivals the international Hallyu wave, with Bollywood movies finding their way in countries as diverse as Eastern Congo and Russia.


Disclaimer: Bollywood movies should never be simplified as Indian movies. “Bollywood” refers to specifically Hindi-language movies emerging from the Bombay film industry. In addition to Bollywood movies, Indian films are also produced in various regional languages, with the Bengali, Tamil, and Kannada film industries intranational rivals of Bollywood.




However, unlike regional cinema, Bollywood films tend to be subtitled and exported, and offer a gateway into mainstream Indian pop culture. Bollywood actresses set both fashion and beauty trends in India, with many of them walking runways for influential Indian designers.


Unlike Korean beauty, which generally emphasizes dewy skin and an innocent-doll like look (see here, here, and here), Bollywood beauty tends to favor bolder, more glamorous looks. Smoky eyes, blown-out curls, striking lip colors — these are the hallmarks of the Bollywood diva.


bollywood beauty
Deepika Padukone in Bajirao Mastani


Makeup in Bollywood is almost like a painting — no one bats an eye at emerald eyeshadows paired with ruby-red lips. The makeup usually has to fit the glamorous outfits, especially for song sequences that feature shimmering outfits and reams of jewelry. “Go big or go home” could be a suitable Bollywood mantra, and often it’s fun to imitate actress looks in certain movies for special events such as weddings and parties.


bollywood beauty
Aishwarya Rai in Devdas




Bollywood actresses have been quite forthcoming over the work they sink into looking good. Unlike in Korean entertainment, Bollywood actresses are often required to dance as well, which means their body as much as their face has to pass muster. Almost every actress goes through rigorous gym sessions, as well as strict diets, avoiding both salt and sugar during shoots. A popular tip bequeathed to us by Bollywood actresses is using muslin or fabric-wrapped ice cubes to tighten the pores on the face before applying makeup and to de-puff the face after hectic shoots or parties.


Alia Bhatt in Kalank


In keeping with Indian beauty traditions, many actresses have professed using yogurt face masks or rubbing coconut oil into their hair and skin to keep their tresses and skin supple and smooth. This is what makes Bollywood beauty traditions accessible, since you don’t necessarily have to spend tons of money to obtain what’s literally in your kitchen pantry. Bollywood beauties such as Madhuri Dixit have admitted to using homemade face packs combining cucumber and yogurt, and Anushka Sharma apparently relies on neem from the neem tree to keep her skin soft and supple.


Anushka Sharma


A favorite homemade mask of mine combines plain natural yogurt with Mamonde Rose Water, turmeric, and chickpea flour for a quick glow when I’ve run out of sheet masks.


My personal dream would be to one day see a Bollywood-Korean crossover. A Korean aesthetic with Bollywood’s joie-de-vivre — now wouldn’t that be an exciting ripple in the Hallyu wave?


bollywood beauty
Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika


Have you watched any Bollywood films? How do they compare to Korean dramas in your opinion? Let’s talk about it!



When not traveling and pestering people of varying ages and histories with impertinent questions for research purposes (yes, it’s legit), Becky indulges her passion for narrative by watching Korean dramas (she’s a certified sageuk addict). Her obsession with all things Asian began at the tender age of 5 when her parents moved to Taiwan for a year. Since then she’s travelled and lived in China, India, and South Korea, and spends her face-masking moments planning the next great Asian exploration.




Great article! Glad that people are taking the focus off of only Western beauty ideals. Global beauty is where it's at.


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I love me some Bollywood makeup and fashion!! I need to start watching it just for that! The clothes and makeup are always so stunning!! The ice wrapped in muslin before makeup application is brilliant! Not sure if I could do it but it sounds awesome! 🙂