The highland settlement of Laya in northwest Bhutan, 4,000m above sea-level, was once known for its sturdy mountain inhabitants. Their physical strength and unsurpassed stamina were topics of talk.
But of late, the beauty of the Layap women is turning into news as well. Apart from the fact, that they have a special garb which only accentuates their quaint elegance, Layap women are increasingly turning to modern beautification and styling techniques and they have never looked better.
Endowed with naturally good skin and rosy cheeks, Layap women now use cosmetics to enhance their features. The most popular brands of facial cream are Nivea and Fair & Lovely among others. They have also started using hair color to tint their long locks and lipstick to add extra color to their already glowing, ruddy faces.
Cracked lips, messy hair, dirty nails and dull skin now belong to the past because they now maintain good hygiene with the use of soap and shampoo. Additionally, to screen themselves from the harsh rays of the sun, goggles have become a necessity for these women.
Pema Yangden, a 20-year-old said that she started using shampoo at the age of eight, the secret behind her gorgeous, long tresses.
“I was also introduced to lipstick and hair color by my friends. Today, looking beautiful matters to us. In the past women were least bothered about their appearance, leave alone using cosmetics.”
Forty year old Damchoe from Neyla village said that unlike the past, today young girls are into cosmetics and styling.
Sonam Choden, another 20-year-old was influenced by her friends applying lipstick and hair color.
“I also learnt the art of make-up,” she said.
Laya can be reached after a six-hour long trek from Gasa. Most women in Laya have been introduced to the world of beauty and make up by friends who travelled to places like Thimphu, Phuentsholing and across the border during business trips. Though many of them still do not have access to television to copy beauty trends across the world, they are making steady progress in beautifying themselves by modern standards because of easy accessibility to cosmetic products in the shops.
Chencho Dema from Laya