As a self-professed beauty addict with bulging boxes (and boxes, and boxes) of unopened products scattered around my flat, you’d think I’d never need – or want – to buy any more. Right? Wrong. See, the thing is, I really, really like what I like, and once I’m in love with a formula, I will buy it over and over again until it gets discontinued and subsequently breaks my heart. With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of my tried-and-tested, can’t-live-without must-haves that’ll always have you coming back for more. This list comes with a twist though: every single brand mentioned here hails from the Middle East, because while nothing beats an iconic Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar, a shimmering Nuxe Dry Oil or a Votary Cleansing Oil (the clarifying one is the GOAT) come Christmas time, it’s important to support local businesses. Plus, the Middle East sure does know a thing or two about beauty! In fact, according to Euromonitor’s Beauty & Fashion Consultant, Amna Abbas, “The beauty and personal care market in the Middle East and Africa region is worth $33 billion as of 2021 and is expected to reach $39 billion by 2025.”
So, grab a pen and paper, pour a hot chocolate, get comfortable, and add these brands to your Christmas wish list…
PEACEFULL THE PEPTIDE EYE CREAM
As a lover of Korean skincare, UAE-based Salama Mohamed founded Peacefull by blending Korean skincare trends and ingredients with our region’s needs. “Our summers are hot and our winters balmy. We see large swings in temperature, and that plays havoc with imported skincare products” she says, before continuing, “With Peacefull, I want us to wave goodbye to skin that feels like a glazed doughnut after we’ve applied products. I want us to not have to deal with formulas that split apart and curdle if you leave them in the heat. And, most importantly, I want us to be able to enjoy products that are designed for our skin types and temperatures.” The Peptide Eye Cream is a go-to of mine – as is anything with peptides, to be honest – because it brightens, tightens, hydrates and cools.
HUDA BEAUTY #FAUXFILTER CONCEALER
Now a household name that needs no introduction, the Huda Beauty brand boasts an entire arsenal of hard-working makeup staples. The concealer is my ride-or-die, desert-island product. It doesn’t crease or move, and it covers everything while still somehow looking natural and glowy. Tick, tick and tick!
KAYALI VANILLA | 28 and MUSK | 12
Sitting under Huda Beauty’s very capable umbrella, KAYALI was founded by Huda’s sister, Mona Kattan, in 2018. The brand is inspired by her rich Middle Eastern heritage, highlighting the ritual of layering and mixing scents to elevate your mood. I’ve been intoxicated by the syrupy combination of Kayali Vanilla | 28 and Kayali Musk | 12 since my very first sniff. It’s fresh but floral, rich but light, and sweet but not-too-sweet all at once. Having these two scents is akin to having three: each separately, as well as both mixed together. Individually, Kayali Vanilla | 28 boasts sweet notes of vanilla, amber woods and brown sugar, while Kayali Musk | 12 features jasmine, musk and creamy sandalwood.
Setting itself apart from other beauty e-tailers with its expertly curated edit of hair formulas and tools, EIDEAL began when founder and hair stylist Haysam Eid saw a gap in the market for styling tools that were both practical and capable of unparalleled performance. Loved by none other than hair stylist to the stars Jen Atkin, EIDEAL tools are made to give salon-level results from the comfort of your own home. My personal favourite is the DiamonSilk Classic flat iron; it uses moving nano-diamond-coated plates to ensure shine and reduce hair damage while capturing every single hair, which is ideal for thick and curly hair types. It takes just 10 seconds to reach 230°C, and if it’s good enough to be used on Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, it’s good enough for me!
glossy makeup illuminator drops
Tired of the rhetoric that women need to look a certain way to fit in, Glossy Makeup encourages you to “embrace you”. So rather than covering or camouflaging your beauty, the Illuminator Drops are made to boost your natural glow and encourage confidence. You can mix the incredibly pigmented, glow-bestowing formula with your favourite foundation to give a natural sheen, or apply directly to skin as a highlighter for other-worldly glow.
mora cosmetics multistick
Though technically not based in the Middle East, Mora Cosmetics’ story is strongly intertwined with founder Minara El-Rahman’s own ethical values and culture. Described as “clean, halal and vegan” (meaning nontoxic, alcohol-free and without animal by-products), the multitasking formulas are inclusive, easy to use and fuss-free. When I’m in a rush, I reach for The Satin Sheen Multistick in Minxy for my lips, lids and cheeks. Bish bash bosh.
Claiming to be “the first psychodermatological skincare brand”, ESPÉRER SKIN CARE is formulated to promote physical and emotional health by acknowledging the link between mind and skin. Officially founded in London, ESPÉRER SKIN CARE was created by psychologist and former makeup artist Dina El Adlani, whose heritage plays a big part in her brand. Speaking to Grazia, Dina said, “My Arabic heritage inspired me to create a brand that celebrates culture, history and diversity. Using rich, pure ingredients that have been traditionally used by Arab women for decades – such as argan, rose and ghassoul clay – and combining them with psychological research is what created ESPÉRER.” Avoiding chemical-based ingredients that could have harmful effects on skin, and consequently, self-esteem and mood, the Anti-Pollution Night Repair Face Oil is a must for anyone who lives in a city. For me, who’s constantly hopping between the dusty plains of Dubai and the Big Smoke, this 100% natural concoction is a lifesaver. It soothes any irritation, absorbs easily, and gives me the most youthful glow via a gentle blend of plant oils.