The rise of clean beauty brands in the UAE

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Dubai - Dubai is known for its love for lashes, lasers and injectibles. Can the conscious beauty movement change that game?

By Sujata Assomull

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Published: Thu 5 Aug 2021, 3:35 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 Aug 2021, 12:07 PM

This is a region that loves grooming. All you have to do is look at the main road of Jumeirah where many plush villas house salons or aesthetic clinics. The Middle East is known to have one of the highest spends on beauty in the world, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading the race. The beauty spends have only increased with the pandemic with many brands recording higher sales during this period.

Dubai is widely known for its love for lashes, lasers and fillers. As one of the city’s most sought-after skin doctor Dr Radmila Lukian of Lucia Clinic (her client list includes beauty moghul Huda Kattan) says, “In Dubai, we have a super high standard of life, culture and beauty.” Let’s also not forget that Kattan too started her brand with a line of fake eyelashes.

People in Dubai make no apologies for their vanity. But with the ‘conscious’ movement pervading into every aspect of lifestyle, the beauty industry too is waking up to the idea of clean, organic products. In the last year, cult clean beauty brands Tata Harper, Sunday Riley and Codex Beauty started retailing in the city, and at least half a dozen new conscious beauty e-tail platforms have started operations in the past two years. Kattan herself has entered the clean beauty game with her Wishful skincare range.

What is clean beauty?

‘Clean’, in itself, isn’t a regulated classification, but tends to include anything that has a trace of organic, natural, pure or sustainable ingredients. Amy Wilkinson Lough is the founder of Project bYouty, an e-commerce platform which retails over 80 conscious beauty brands. She says the reality is that there’s no actual definition for the word ‘clean’. “It’s a buzzword that caught on and now has an incredible loyal following. What I see is Arab women and men are warming up to the idea of conscious beauty.”

There is considerable truth in that claim and is echoed by Miriam Abadi, beauty influencer and founder of beauty and wellness platform Tru & Beyond. “I absolutely feel that clean beauty and cosmetic enhancements are like adding some sprinkles on the sundae.” She believes that there is a general movement towards a more natural look, which started even before the pandemic. “Glowing, makeup-free skin is something that more and more women thrive for. However, Arab women are result-oriented as well. It needs to work and get them this dewy, glowing, refreshed skin that we all are longing to have. And if it has a clean beauty stamp on it, even better.”

Dr Lamees Hamdan, founder of one of the bestselling clean beauty brands in the region Shiffa Beauty, couldn’t agree more. When she launched Shiffa Beauty, people weren’t even aware of what clean beauty meant. Yet, Shiffa became the talk of the town as it delivered results. “People in the Middle East have no issues in having lasers, fillers and using clean skincare simultaneously, and I like this philosophy. Many people in the clean beauty realm have an all-or-nothing view — you are either a clean beauty warrior or you are not, when the reality is that we should not be judging anyone on what they do, because there is no right or wrong. It’s about what works for you and your lifestyle.”

Medical beauty treatments versus clean beauty

In fact, science-based beauty is seen as a way of life. Dr Lukian remembers when she opened Lucia Clinic, she was fascinated by the word ‘luce’ that meant “light, shine, clear, bright, full of lightness” and applied these principles to the skincare treatment she’d offer to patients. “Our mission is to use new technologies for surgical, medical, and beauty purposes. Providing the best new technologies, medical expertise as well as a passion for beauty.” Her long waiting list is a testament to how medical interventions in beauty are still very much in demand.

International beauty brands are aware of Dubai’s hybrid approach to beauty. Tata Harper of the cult eponymous brand says, “The consumer in the Middle East is widely regarded as ultra-discerning, with very high standards. So, it’s a natural market to engage with for any conversation relating to self-care and beauty at an elevated level.” Harper has found that her “supernatural” skincare range is one that this region seems to love; unsurprisingly, it’s her most advanced. “This is next level skincare, and the Elixir Vitae serum has been so warmly received by people in this region because it really encompasses the ‘best of the best’ attitude that many here have when it comes to personal care and grooming.”

Done with ‘overdone’?

The region does seem to be moving away from the ‘overdone’ look. We are becoming less Kim Kardashian and more Jessica Alba in our approach to beauty. Recently, in an Instagram post that was put out without any photo editing, Huda Kattan wrote, “I have had enough of the over-editing and not showing real-ness.” It spoke of a new, mature approach to beauty. It is a move that founders of Powder, a Dubai-based clean beauty company, actively encourage. Its founders Amina Grimen and Ayat Toufeeq say, “Rather than concealing their natural beauty, women in the region are now getting comfortable in their own skin and enhancing their natural beauty. They are looking at the ingredients list with greater understanding on how products are formulated, ingredients are sourced and ethos of the brands to see if they meet their values.” The founders add that women now increasingly believe that the more exposure there is to clean beauty, the more women from the region will move towards more conscious choices. “If you had the option to achieve the same results using brands that are non-toxic, have beautiful and effective formulations and are kinder to the environment, wouldn’t you choose to go clean? It’s a no-brainer,” the duos adds.

While the Middle East was a bit late to the conscious beauty awakening, it does seem to be catching up quickly. But do expect to see women who will continue to love their lashes, lasers and injectibles.

Beauty Editor and founder of beauty platform TRU & Beyond, Miriam Abadi shares a list of her favourite conscious beauty products. These deliver results and are made with natural ingredients by companies known for their ethical approach to beauty.

1) BIOSSANCE Squalane+10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum

Good for normal, dry, combination and oily skin types

“Visibly smoother and brighter skin in the morning. Love this as a nighttime skin solution and it’s not harsh on the skin”

2) TATCHA The Water Oil Dress Pore Minimizing Moisturiser

Good for normal, oily, combination and sensitive skin types

“An absolute must-have for summers — light, fresh and moisturising.”

3) SUPERGOOP Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Good for normal, dry, combination and oily skin types

“Use every day to protect against sun, and I use it under makeup and do not break out.”

4) REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Toner

Good for normal, dry, combination and oily skin types

“Very gentle toner that hydrates and brightens the skin. I use it every night.”

5) TATA HARPER Regenerating Cleanser

Good for most skin types.

“Have been using this for three years and I am hooked, it is the most gentle exfoliator ever.”

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