No country can rival the beauty spend of the MENA region, with Saudi women being the world’s highest spenders on beauty, followed by Emirati women. Unapologetic maximalism is the word that best describes the regional approach to skincare. But within this, there’s a growing niche for clean beauty. “Clean” itself is not a regulated classification, however products that use this term contain natural ingredients and are free from chemicals such as parabens. Emirati national Dr. Lamees Hamdan has been the trailblazer of this beauty category in the Arab world with her UAE-based brand Shiffa Beauty, which she launched in 2004.

Shiffa (which means “healing” in Arabic) is inspired by Middle Eastern traditions and even ancient ayurvedic practices. The use of rose, jasmine, frankincense and honey (in their Aromatic Facial Cleanser and Rose Bliss Balm) are all part of long-established Arabic herbal rituals. The brand is available in Sephora stores throughout this region, as well as department stores such as Nordstrom in North America. Says the trained doctor, “Herbals, when properly understood and prescribed, can give amazing results for various diseases with fewer side effects than conventional therapies. I believe 10 years from now all doctors will be schooled in herbs and lifestyle changes as a first-line treatment for disorders.”

During the lockdown, Shiffa saw a surge in sales, as clean beauty became the buzzword of skincare regimens. Dr. Hamdan started the brand when she was pregnant with her first child and her first product, a healing balm designed to help pregnant women with stretch marks, has received much praise from Kim Kardashian West. It’s still the brand’s bestseller. A true multi-corrective product, it can help with skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. The Tri Acid Mask, Aromatic Facial Cleanser and Organic Muslin Cloth were best sellers during lockdown, as women found time to participate in at-home skincare rituals.

Dr. Lamees Hamdan Fashion Trust Arabia
Dr. Lamees Hamdan

One product that should be on every woman’s nightstand is Amuse, a natural filler with a two-way patch of micro-dissolvable needles. This product increases skin elasticity, lifts the smile area and can also be used under the eyes. While she may be in the business of natural beauty, Dr. Hamdan has no issues with those who want to go for Botox and fillers. “Some people want that, and it’s okay,” she says, adding that it’s important not to overdo it as you “can end up looking abnormal.” She believes that her brand does give women natural alternatives to procedures. “It’s my job to make sure my customers look better and younger.” It is this progressive attitude that has made Shiffa Beauty gain so much recognition globally.

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In 2021, Shiffa Beauty will offer revamped packaging. “Our formulations really are some of the best out there in terms of ingredients and efficacy, and I wanted our packaging to reflect that.”