WKND Conversations: The changing notions of beauty


Salama Mohamed, Founder & Creative Director, Peacefull. Photo by Mohammad Mustafa Khan
Salama Mohamed, Founder & Creative Director, Peacefull. Photo by Mohammad Mustafa Khan

Dubai - Beauty in motion. The second edition of wknd. conversations addressed the impact of social media on the societal standards of aesthetics


Somya Mehta

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Published: Thu 19 Aug 2021, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 Sep 2021, 3:14 PM

With an influx of airbrushed, blemish-free selfies floating on the Internet, the concept of ‘real’ skin has almost become obsolete from the visual narrative of beauty. However, with the rise of flawless filters and sophisticated photo editing, there has also been a parallel movement brewing, one that encourages inclusivity and awareness in the beauty industry.

In the second edition of wknd. conversations that took place on August 11, at Olival restaurant, in association with Habtoor Grand Resort Autograph Collection, eminent guest speakers and influencers took part in a discussion around the changing notions of beauty — the rise of clean beauty and its interplay with cosmetology — over two engaging panel discussions.

The event began with a rejuvenating session of mindfulness by wellbeing coach Delna Mistry Anand. Urging the guests and panelists to acknowledge their inner beauty, the meditation coach took the guests through a guided commentary and sound bath, shifting the focus inwards.

The first session saw social media trailblazer Salama Mohamed talk about ‘beauty in diversity’. Mohamed, who recently launched her much-anticipated skincare brand Peacefull, has already made a statement with her brand campaigns that actively challenge prevalent notions of beauty. “For me, it’s more about accepting the fact that I am unique and changing my perspective. Instead of thinking it’s a skin disease, I focus on how it affects only less than one per cent of the world population. So, it makes me very unique,” Mohamed told the audience.

The Emirati influencer, who, in her own words, has been “blessed” with vitiligo, revealed her struggle with finding suitable skincare products to adequately support her needs, which led to the birth of her skincare line. “What is there to apologise for? I am myself. I’ve had vitiligo since the age of five. It’s who I am and who I will always be. It’s just a matter of finding the right ingredients for my needs,” added the influencer, who was accompanied by her husband, Khalid Al Ameri, the renowned Emirati vlogger, at the event.

The second session of the afternoon focused on the UAE’s clean beauty drive and what that means for its parallel ecosystem of cosmetology. The guest panelists delved into the Middle East’s hybrid choices related to cosmetic procedures and how brands are responding to a more conscious approach to beauty, with clean, cruelty-free products becoming the new norm.

Ayat Toufeeq, co-founder and CEO of powder.ae, an online retailer of clean beauty in the Middle East, defined the new beauty phenomenon as “making a conscious choice that reflects what your values are”. Addressing the lack of understanding around what clean beauty actually consists of, Toufeeq pointed out that consumers often find themselves confused and reject the idea altogether. “They make assumptions that it’s the organic stuff, which doesn’t really work, or that it’s not luxurious enough.”

But as with any pronounced movement, the sudden surge of information can also be overwhelming to consumers, especially in a market where they are spoilt for choice. “It really comes down to doing your own research and checking the ingredients thoroughly,” said Amina Grimen, co-founder of powder.ae. “We come across a lot of information on social media and often get tempted to buy something that has worked for someone else. Different people promote different products, but we need to do our own research and make our own choices,” added Grimen.

On the cosmetic front, Dubai-based senior dermatologist with 21 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology, Dr Minal Patwardhan Andrade spotlighted the need to verify the scientific evidence behind the claims made by beauty brands. “Other than hair dyes, there have been no long-term studies on any contents of any creams or any makeup that have proven it to be potentially carcinogenic,” she said. Dr Minal highlighted how consumers can easily fall prey to fear-mongering tactics, which should be carefully distinguished. “Skin is the largest organ in the body. So, it is actually a protection. If you go by the science of it, nothing really goes inside. It is a barrier,” the dermatologist mentioned, adding that contrary to popular belief, only certain medical creams, formulated in a certain way, can penetrate deep into the dermis.

Nisha Ganapathy, group product manager of Dabur, who recently launched the region’s first superfood skincare range under DermoViva, also mentioned how self-care is the ultimate form of self-love. “We get very lazy when it comes to taking care of our skin. Simple things like exfoliating and using a mask once a week, this is self-love,” said Ganapathy. “You need to take out time for yourself, whether you’re a man or a woman. Just to relax, let your skin breathe and get the nutrients that it deserves,” the product manager signed off. The sessions concluded with a round of questions from the audience, further adding to and challenging the prevalent discourse around beauty in modern society.


wknd. conversations is a monthly interactive platform where influential leaders from different industries come together for an interactive session on a variety of subjects.

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