The Arab Women Behind Your Favorite Beauty Brands


Amna Al Habtoor

You know the brands well, but you might not know the names behind them. Meet the women from all over the Arab region who have set up the empowering beauty brands you love and use everyday:
 

Areej Sultan Al Essa, founder of K7L


Areej Sultan Al Essa, founder of K7L

The startup idea of Areej Sultan Al Essa, was to launch an ethical, cruelty free line of cosmetics with Arab women in mind. Naming it K7L, a play on the Arabic word for eyeliner, Kohl, Al Essa’s brand carries over 500 products. She launched her makeup label following 10 years of solid market research, as it now boasts non-toxic nail polishes, cream eyeshadows, lightweight eyelashes, and long-wearing lipsticks. What’s more, K7L foundations cater to all Middle Eastern skin tones in 15 different shades.
 

Ayah Mufleh, founder of Ishimmer Lashes


Ayah Mufleh, founder of Ishimmer

False lashes are a must have on every makeup enthusiast’s list to complete their flawless looks. Jordanian-American entrepreneur, Ayah Mufleh, ran a beauty blog before launching her very own line of false lashes in 2015. Finding eyelashes by other brands a little on the heavy side, Mufleh wanted to create a unique a natural looking, lightweight set, and started up Ishimmer. Her line includes 5 lightweight sets of lashes and admits her journey as an entrepreneur wasn’t the easiest when she started out due to the strong competition but it wasn’t before long that her lashes caught the attention of models Gigi and Bella Hadid, Jordan Dunn, Chanel Iman, Winnie Harlow and Sienna Miller.
 

Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of Shiffa


Dr. Lamees Hamdan, founder of Shiffa

“I work with the skin’s natural healing process – which is very powerful – not against it. I only use ingredients that I know make a difference.” As told to Vogue Arabia, Emirati Dr. Lamees Hamdan founded Shiffa, which also means “healing” in Arabic. The doctor’s skincare line focuses on dermatology ailments faced by women in the Middle East including uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, and aging appearance. Inspired by her challenge to prevent stretchmarks during pregnancy, Hamdan spent four years formulating and creating her skincare line and has become renowned for her powerful formulas in luxury packaging. The doctor was awarded Best Business Leader at the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Awards, and also won Best Health and Wellness Company just two years after launching Shiffa.
 

Amna Al Habtoor, founder of Arcadia


Amna Al Habtoor, founder of Arcadia

Some luxury brands formulate and adapt their best-selling perfumes to appeal specifically to the Middle Eastern market, and Arabs are serious about their scents. Amna Al Habtoor, who trained as a perfumer in the UK at The Cotswold Perfumery, established her very own line of fragrances in 2016, entitled Arcadia. Cruelty free and home made in the UAE, Al Habtoor has formulated unisex scents that are inspired by particular moments and people in her life. In her first collection, Amna was inspired by her late mother, while the collection that followed, The Dark Series, explored human emotion.
 

Intisar and Fatima Al-Sabah, founders of Prismologie


Intisar and Fatima Al-Sabah, founders of Prismologie

Founded by Kuwaiti mother and daughter duo, Sheikha Fatima and Intisar Al-Sabah, Prismologie is a body care brand. Taking onboard that taking care of one’s own body is just as important as the face, Prismologie was created to enhance the everyday lives of women. Sheikha Fatima’s philosophy is that mood and color are intertwined and therefore, the brand’s products are categorized into six shades: pink for happiness, red for vigor, indigo for relaxation, white for purity, yellow for energy and green for restoration and also include body scrubs and oils, moisturizers, hand and foot creams and much more.
 

Iman Abdulmajid, founder of Iman Cosmetics


Iman Abdulmajid, founder of Iman Cosmetics

You might have known this one. The iconic Sudanese model, Iman Abdulmajid, launched her very own makeup range for black skin tones following an incident at an American Vogue shoot where the makeup artist had no foundation to match her tone. The brand was launched in 1994, and went from strength to strength as it was inclusive of brown and black skin tones and Iman herself is still very much hands on with her product launches and social media at times. Explaining why she created Iman Cosmetics, she stated, “When you work in the industry, your looks are your currency. If you don’t have a good appearance, you won’t be booked again – and no one will blame the beauty team or the photographer. This made me start experimenting with makeup from an early stage. I would buy any foundation with pigment so I could mix and match.”

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