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Beauty Talk with Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai


A model, mother, and businesswoman, Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai is the vision of a lady who does it all. The Serbian-born beauty, who won the Miss Yugoslavia title in 1998, has been living in Dubai for around ten years. She now presides over two beauty salons, Vanilla by Jelena Ladies Salon And Spa and Chocolate by Jelena Gents Grooming Salon And Spa, as well as Asya’s Nursery, Al Das Medical Centre, and a newly launched ready-to-wear fashion line, Duchess by Jelena. How does she do it? We delve into her beauty must-haves and find out how she takes care of her skin while building an empire.

Elizabeth Whiston-Dew: With several businesses to run and a family to care for, how do you manage to carve out some me-time?

Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai: Between managing my newly launched ready-to-wear line under my fashion label Duchess by Jelena and my other businesses, my days are often hectic—so being organized is essential. I am a hands-on boss and have a team that I know I can trust completely. Me-time means meeting a friend for coffee or enjoying a spa treatment. At home, I spend time with my family and open up my laptop again once the kids are in bed.

What are your skincare secrets?

My number one for youthful skin is the Hammam, an exfoliating treatment which removes the dead cells. It regenerates the skin and opens pores, allowing the skin to breathe. For my day-to-day skincare routine, I like to keep things simple and just wash my face with soap and water before applying a toner, an eye serum, and a moisturizer. I also make sure I get as much sleep as possible—which is often easier said than done.

Which products are the skincare stars of your bathroom cabinet?

The best skin product I’ve tried is the La Mer Regenerating Serum (US $310; AED/SAR 1,132), which gives the skin an unrivaled glow. I also love using the La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream (US $447; AED/SAR 1,632) morning and evening to truly feed my skin.

Which beauty products are always found on your dressing table?

The Tom Ford Black Orchid EDP (US $112; AED/SAR 409), M.A.C Peachykeen Powder Blush (US $22; AED/SAR 80), and YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils (US $30; AED/SAR 110) are my essentials. I’ve actually used this mascara for 10 years now.

Which beauty product makes it into your clutch when going to an event?

It would have to be the Art Deco High Definition Loose Powder (US $37; AED/SAR 135) for touch-ups on the go. It works wonders to combat any shine from the camera’s flash.


You are known for your glossy brunette locks—how do you keep them so shiny?

My favorite haircare brand is Macadamia Professional which I order to my salon as the products aren’t available in stores—I particularly love the shampoo and hair masks. I sometimes use a few drops of argan oil to lock in moisture, which helps given Dubai’s humidity.

Who is your hair inspiration?

The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has gorgeous, glossy hair that looks natural. At every event, she always looks groomed and polished.

Which are your go-to nail shades?

I mostly stick to classic colors like reds, nudes, and light pinks, but bright neon colors always look great against tanned feet.

What is your beauty philosophy about aging?

I have a relaxed attitude to growing older. As long as you look after your body by eating healthy, exercising, and staying happy and confident, your inner beauty will shine through at any age.

Do you have a beauty icon?

I have always admired classic Hollywood beauties from the 1950s and 1960s—they were so chic and glamorous. A modern icon for me is the beautiful Queen Rania of Jordan.

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