The beauty industry in Saudi Arabia is expanding like never before – meet three women leading the way with their statement looks.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Reem Alswaidi. With a dream of opening her own beauty academy, her first step was becoming a makeup artist. At the time, a French school of hairdressing and makeup, Formul’A Academy, had just opened in Riyadh. For almost four months, Alswaidi studied everything from perfecting everyday skin to editorial makeup. Afterwards, she continued her training with some of the world’s top artists. Traveling between Europe, the US, Dubai, and Egypt, she worked with people including Scott Barnes and Bassam Fattouh.
“I wanted to learn everything,” says Alswaidi. “If it was a challenge, I had to do it.” She began posting images on social media of her clients and herself. “It was something new for Saudi people. I was the first Saudi girl to show my face on social media,” she shares. She quickly amassed a following and, wanting to share her knowledge, started hosting makeup workshops. “I wanted to do something with a message,” she says. Over the following two years she trained more than 2 000 women in makeup, drawing on the skills she’d honed from years of study. Her top makeup tip? “A red lip is classic,” says Alswaidi, “It makes you look more youthful.” Her dream has finally come true – next year, she’ll open her own beauty salon in Riyadh, with an academy set to follow.
Originally printed in the November 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia
The look: Hero highlighter
“I had a message to share,” says Abeer Sinder on becoming the first black beauty vlogger in the Kingdom. “I couldn’t find anyone on social media who represented someone like me in the Arab world.” Instead, she had to draw inspiration from shows like America’s Next Top Model (she names Tyra Banks as an early role model) and beauty bloggers from the UK and US. Her love for the industry flourished – but this led to her questioning globally displayed beauty standards. “Beauty is being yourself,” she says – an ideal she started pushing across her social media channels.
Sinder’s fan base grew, with followers from Saudi Arabia and the UK to Sudan and the US looking to her for inspiration. “There are a lot of beauty standards right now but to be totally beautiful, is to know what suits you. Not to follow these stereotypes,” she says. When it comes to makeup, Sinder champions highlighter. “I love Fenty Beauty highlighters. The shade Trophy Wife looks amazing on dark skin.” Her most important piece of advice is getting enough sleep – a tip she will have to implement as she launches her wig company, Sinder Hair, which aims to offer quality hair to women who like to switch up their color without damaging their locks.
The look: Statement eyeliner
The makeup artist, blogger, vlogger, and aspirant architect is based in Riyadh – where she’s studying at Prince Sultan University – and often travels to Dubai. “I love colors,” she says of her style. “I love playing with textures and experimenting.” She started her beauty journey at 16 on Instagram because she wanted to reach a wider audience. Now, four years later, she has more than 465 000 followers and has become a regular in the Middle Eastern beauty set. “There is beauty throughout the world but, for me, the most inspiring aspect of the industry is the number of strong and successful women,” she says.
Alnamlah has worked with royalty and musicians such as Nawal Al Kuwaitia and Assala Nasri, as well as TV star Aline Watfa. She’s currently developing her own makeup line. “I want to offer women the tools to create the best versions of themselves,” she shares. Her go-to daytime look is a light smoky eye with nude lipstick and in the evening, she opts for bronzed tones. She’s also famed for her use of colorful eyeliners. A purple lower liner look posted on Instagram garnered more than 32 000 likes and 2 000 comments. With her flawless skin, it comes as no surprise that her focus is on skincare. Her beauty secret? “Drinking lots of water.”
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Photography: Ziga Mihelcic
Fashion assistant: Mohammad Hazem Rezq