Crush Of The Week
From the MENA to the World | (Re)Discover the best Arab women-founded beauty & skincare brands
The Middle East and Africa health and beauty market generated an estimated $475 billion profits in 2022, a little more than that last year and is bound to exceed these numbers in 2024. In a region where beauty is a religion and a part of our culture, incredible homegrown beauty labels have emerged, all boastings some of the best formulas in the industry. From perfume to skincare via the best lipsticks we ever tried, JDEED introduces the brands you need to know, test and that you will most definitely approve.
ASTERI Big Fan Mascara
MONA KATTAN – KAYALI
ABOUT MONA KATTAN
Iraqi-American businesswoman Mona Kattan doesn’t really need an intro, does she? One of the most successful and recognized women in the beauty industry; in the Arab World and beyond, she’s the founder of her perfume line KAYALI and the co-founder of Huda Beauty, alongside sisters Huda and Alya.
To Kattan, beauty isn’t something exclusive; she rather focuses her efforts on cultivating inclusivity within the industry, hoping to encourage the next generations of beauty enthusiasts.
Her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance led her to pursue a brief career as an investment banker which ended when, in 2009, she founded her own PR & business consultancy all while expanding her community and network. Three years later, the launch of her beauty salon eventually acted as a catalyst for the creation of Huda Beauty, a business that would not-so-slowly turn into a real empire known across the globe and praised for its approach and cutting-edge products. Named one of the most powerful women in the Middle East by Forbes, Mona shares glimpses or her life and accomplishments to her 4M + followers on social media. She’s also an active mentor, speaker and member of YPO, Founders Forum, The Fragrance Foundation as well as many other global business organizations.
Despite knowing an incredible success with her first ventures, Mona’s ultimate dream had always been the creation of her very own fragrance brand. Known as the “Perfume Princess”, who got awarded “Most Influential Social Media Personality” by The Fragrance Foundation in 2018, Kattan eventually launched KAYALI in 2018. With an out-of-this-world collection of 4000 fragrances in her perfume library, it seemed only natural that the serial entrepreneur would take this step and make her dream come true.
KAYALI “my imagination” in Arabic, draws inspiration from Mona’s rich Middle Eastern heritage, a region where perfume and perfume layering is not just the finishing touch before leaving the house but rather a sacred ritual that tells a lot about one’s mood and personality.
Both the scent developer and creative director of the brand, Mona also collaborates with some of the world’s most renowned perfumers and goes above and beyond to always source the finest ingredients, ensuring her juices are, not only truly memorable, but also long-lasting and – bonus – cruelty free.
NADA ZOUARI -ZESTED
ABOUT NADA ZOUARI
It’s in Dubai that we met Tunisian-French Nada Zouari who launched her journey into the world of skincare in November 2021 with her first product, a regenerating serum mist.
With a vision in mind that was meant to lighten men’s and women’s beauty routines, Zouari worked on creating a solution that would work for everyone all while using natural active ingredients: “we don’t hide skin problems such as dehydration, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, imperfections…we treat the origin of the problem. Our products stimulate the skin’s natural functioning so it can self-regulate and regenerate. This way we also prevent skin disorders,” says Zouari,
For now a monoproduct brand, ZESTED and its “smart” serum is on a mission to counter all skin problems by stimulating the natural cell regeneration process and rebalancing the skin microbiota. Combining the benefits of a serum, as to know, being highly effective and concentrated with the hygienic, effective, fast and refreshing pros of being a spray, we have enjoyed using this super nice-smelling serum morning and night with a few pshittt.
A perfect addition to a 100% natural skincare routine, the serum-spray is also perfect for people on the go who literally only have 3 seconds to take care of their skins. Moisturized, glowing, soothed, with plumped fine lines (yes please) and a rebalanced microbiome, ZESTED’s serum also prevents blemishes. What’s not to love?
Discover more about ZESTED and shop it here
MINA AL SHEIKHLY – BY MINA AL SHEIKHLY
ABOUT MINA AL SHEIKHLY
Iraqi content producer and entrepreneur Mina AlSheikhly truly is one of these people whose kind genuine souls can be perceived even through a screen. Everyday, Mina shares snippets of her life with her combined 8.1M followers on social media, keeping it real and managing to maintain a close bond with her audience.
With a role as MBC Iraq’s Beit Beauty TV program host that propelled her into the spotlight, Mina built herself a significant presence in the Middle East which eventually led her to launch “By Mina AlSheikhly”, her mascara brand.
ABOUT BY MINA AL SHEIKHLY
It’s after no less than 3 years of research and development, that Mina launched her mascara label “By Mina AlSheikhly”, a real token of commitment to aesthetic excellence.
Produced in Italy, the mascaras are a luxurious experience from packaging to the actual product, as Mina wished for the whole experience to be one-of-a-kind. With that in mind, purchasing one of these mascaras start with a marbled packaging, available in light turquoise and rose hues and inspired by semi-precious stones, announcing the exclusive beauty moment about to follow.
For having tried them, we can only but understand why the success of the Tailored, Elevated, Curved and Layered mascaras has been significant. Now part of the production, a vanity case, The Perfect Match kits, Filled Brow Sculpt & Tint and Resin Waterproof Top Coat (which we’ve been using as a brow gel…oops?) become the perfection addition to our beauty routine.
Very recently Mina AlSheikhly launched a set of 4 colored mascaras inspired from her favourite gemstones such as agate, malachite, tiger eye, and lapis lazuli, adding a touch of creativity and boldness to our everyday make-up.
It really didn’t take long for Mina AlSheikhly’s eponymous brand to become a reference of beauty innovation and sophistication. Initially on a pursuit to find the perfect mascara, Al Sheikhly is now well on her way to take her brand to the beauty empire level.
BY MONA AL SHEIKHLY COLORED MASCARAS CAMPAIGN. MINA, THIRD FROM THE LEFT
SARA AL RASHED – ASTERI
ABOUT SARA AL RASHED
Riyadh-born, raised and based Sara Al Rashed is the youngest of six siblings. Annual summer trips to Paris and the South of France with her family played a huge part in opening her eyes to the world of fashion and design, eventually leading her to enrol at university to study interior design and engineering in Riyadh. The only creative route available to be studied in Saudi at the time, Sara was left hungry for more. She decided to move to the UK to study the first of what would become three Masters degrees, two in design and one in Creativity, Leadership and Innovation.
After a professional experience in London at an architecture studio, 1508, Al Rashed returned to Saudi, pursuing another work opportunity, at a real burgeoning time for the Kingdom.
Evolving in a world where creatives and mold-breakers were numerous, Al Rashed took the advantage of the lockdown to start brainstorming what would end-up being her beauty line.
Launched globally in May 2023. Asteri aims to empower and bring make-up back to its root, Arabia, where it arguably all began.
Asteri boasts smart formulas that are Vegan, microplastic-free and cruelty-free, discharging you from having to top up your make-up during the day with long-lasting formulas.
Your clean beauty best friends, their products are skin friendly with even packagings made of 80% of pre-loved plastic.
Inclusive, Asteri is also made for a diverse range of skin types and colours and is actually “desert proof”, working perfectly in extreme weathers like the ones known in the GCC, intensely dry or excessively humid.
“Created by, and for, the modern Arab woman”, we have fallen in love with Asteri’s products that truly feel like a treat for the skin. Our favourites are the eye shadow palettes, lipsticks and lip gloss that never leave our purse.
NIDHI & RASHI SETHI – SKIN STORY
ABOUT NIDHI & RASHI SETHI
An exception to our selection of Arab Women, Middle East-based Nidhi and Rashi Sethi had to make our round-up.
The two are the duo behind Skin Story, a brand revolutionizing the beauty world with their clean, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty products.
Skin Story Clean Beauty started with a very personal journey, the one of Nidhi and Rashi, both ardent enthusiasts of beauty and makeup who could not find products that were both green and efficient.
Between Rashi’s sensitive skin and Nidhi’s need for a more skin-tone specific product, the pair embarked on a journey of research, exploration, and discovery. It’s in November 2021 that they founded Skin Story, hoping to change the narrative about skin & eco-friendly products.
ABOUT SKIN STORY
Skin Story really is about being a skincare brand that enhances people’s natural traits without covering them in unnecessary layers. Made with non-toxic ingredients that are free from any kind of animal testing, Skin Story doesn’t stop its commitment to being sustainable with its products, their packaging also being environment-friendly.
The ingredients found in Skin Story’s formulas are free of chemical preservatives, artificial dyes, or colors, and are non-toxic.
Thanks to the brand, women are able to experience what clean beauty really has to offer, essentially the feeling of a natural and second-skin-like coverage. We’re obsessed with the multi-stick in “legacy” and generally with their super cool, modern packaging.