DUBAI: It is fairly common knowledge that some of the best beauty secrets have been passed on through generations and never more so than in the Middle East.
From the region’s love affair with fragrance to beauty practices such as the wearing of eyeliner, that originated with Queen Cleopatra, the Middle East has long been a pioneer when it comes to beauty rituals.
Soraya Jouzy, owner and founder of Pearl Tree, a leading distributor of natural, lifestyle, and wellness beauty brands in the Middle East and the British Indian Ocean Territory, said: “I am originally from Lebanon and I grew up watching woman in my family use raw ingredients from the land, including olive oil, rose water, argan oil, jasmine, and dead sea salts, in their beauty rituals.”
During the hot summer months, it is important to take extra care to stick to health and wellness routines to combat the effects of heat.
Here are five brands that have incorporated influences from the region into their products, adding a touch of past lore into contemporary beauty rituals.
Shiffa Beauty Care
“Middle East beauty means taking good care of your skin, making sure it’s clear, glowing, and strong,” said Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of homegrown line Shiffa Beauty.
“My grandmother aged so beautifully, in part because they understood that respecting your skin, and not overdoing it with harsh chemicals, was key.”
Hamdan pointed out that it was important that suppliers of skincare products understood skin, how it formed and reacted, and what it needed.
“Some products give you quick results, but in the long term can be detrimental to your skin. That is not what Shiffa is about. I use ingredients that will make your skin look its best now, and in five years’ time.”
For the summer months, Hamdan said it was vital to keep skin pores clean. “Shiffa tri-acid peel, used twice a week, helps gently take away dead skin cells that make your skin look dull, and help lighten pigmentation (pigmentation tends to increase in skin during the summer months),” she added.
“I have used a combination of three fruit acids, each with its own function in the skin, and a calming blend of essential oils and marine extracts. I liken my products to food for your skin.”
There was also balancing facial toner, containing bio Sulphur, and Melissa hydrosol which acts as an oil blotter for skin.
“During the hotter months, your skin tends to produce more sebum (oil) and this toner gently helps reverse the overactivity of the oil glands,” said Hamdan. She noted that to tackle the summer sun, “sunscreen, unperfumed and broad spectrum is a first, and then a large hat to protect your face and neck.”
Montroi’s Arabian-inspired Perfumes
Homegrown Dubai-based brand Montroi, specializes in products that enhance a “nomadic lifestyle.”
Montroi’s products are made using the finest materials, most sourced locally in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The brand’s perfumes offer a journey throughout the Middle East and South East Asia, incorporating pure ingredients from across the region.
“We work with more than 20 workshops and artisans across the modern Silk Route,” said co-founder Enrique Hormigo. “In the preparation of our fragrances we source frankincense from Salalah in the south of Oman, rose water from Jebel Akhdar, and oud from the Arabian Peninsula, for example.
“It’s very much a research journey of going back to the essentials and discovering craftsmanship that has been kept alive in those places for many generations.”
Sodashi’s Arabian Oud Spray
For thousands of years, oud has been used in the Middle East and Asia in the form of body oils, wooden incense chips, and fragrance. It is perhaps the best-known scent synonymous with hospitality in the region, particularly the Gulf.
Known in English as agarwood, oud comes from the bark of trees that can only be found in parts of South East Asia.
Now, international brands such as Sodashi, are incorporating its delicious scent and benefits into their products.
Perfect for the summer, Sodashi’s Arabian oud spray offers a distinct blend of damask rose, oud, frankincense, and sandalwood in a 24-carat-gold-printed biophotonic glass.
The mist, which can be left in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness, plumps and tones the skin and is perfect for a quick pick up after running around in the hot outdoors. Available from Dubai-based Pearl Tree at www.pearltree.ae.
Morocco is well-known for its beauty rituals, such as traditional hammams and the use of argan oil.
Leading beauty brand MarocMaroc infuses its products with Moroccan beauty traditions. In particular, its Majestic Rose range is ideal for the summer months, incorporating the rose flower, a symbol of Morocco, and evoking smoothness to the skin.
“Women of this region love natural ingredients,” said Jouzy, whose Pearl Tree stocks MarocMaroc. “There’s been a notable rise in the incorporation of natural ingredients, such as rose water and argan oil, in beauty brands over the last two years.
“In a time when people are still not as confident to return to clinics, we are seeing a rise in the use of natural products, such as MarocMaroc, in skincare rituals,” she added.
Dubai-based entrepreneur Yosor Al-Suhaili recently launched Two Rivers, a natural organic skincare and beauty brand incorporating ancient skincare rituals from her native Iraq and around the Middle East.
“When my mother was 13, her grandmother in Iraq sat her down and told her that from this day on her baths would not only be about washing her hair and body but would also involve scrubbing her face and body with the granules of a small white stone and scrubbing her feet with a pumice stone,” she told Arab News.
“My mother took her grandmother’s advice to heart two to three times a week until this very day. Although I never grew up in Iraq, I too sat down at 13 with the same exact advice which I too took to heart.
“I realized that the constant use of these ancient products and rituals had a greater impact on my skin than any other modern-day product I used.”
Friends and family members asked Al-Suhaili to share the secret to her glowing skin and eventually she decided to launch her own product line.
All Two Rivers’ products incorporate regionally sourced natural ingredients. The brand’s go-to market product, white stone, used to scrub away skin impurities, is not readily known outside of Iraq and Iran.
“I wanted to share these natural time-proven products, that have been in my family for five generations, with the world,” added Al-Suhaili.
They are available on Instagram @tworiversbrand