Written by Alexandra Venison, Vogue Arabia


The rituals of self-care are etched into the DNA of Arab women and steeped in our traditions and culture. The beauty consumer of today is returning to these roots – she’s no longer just investing in international brands, but increasingly turning to local startups, reminiscent of at-home remedies and age-old rituals. The Middle East will be the fastest-growing beauty market in the world over the next five years, according to research done by Euromonitor International, with local brands showing exceptional growth. These niche businesses are often pioneered by Arab women, who, through adapting traditional recipes, are changing the way consumers perceive the industry. From green products to color therapy, these are the regional brands and the women behind them on Vogue’s radar.

The traditionalist

Mouna Abbassy, founder of Izil Skincare Line

Moroccan heritage is central to skincare brand Izil. “It is the essence of all that we do,” explains founder Mouna Abassy. Izil means “pure” in the ancient Berber Amazign language and is also the name of Abbassy’s son. Inspired by her mother and grandmother, who she describes as “fanatics” when it comes to homemade recipes, Abassy launched her brand in 2013, after moving to Dubai. “I got lost among all the different brands and claims out there. I missed simple, pure, natural beauty rituals,” she says. “Our products are inspired by traditional recipes and employ the secrets of Moroccan wellness and beauty transmitted from generation to generation.” Izil uses ingredients such as argan and prickly pear seed oils, ghassoul clay, and roses, while products are free of parabens, synthetic colors, and preservatives. Having launched the line from home, Abassy now sells Izil globally through e-commerce and the brand is also stocked in spas and stores across the GCC. The entrepreneur has been recognized for her business acumen, winning the Cartier Women’s Initiative for the Middle East and North Africa region in 2015. “The beauty industry is being challenged to be more transparent and offer products which are natural,” Abassy says. “Digital, in particular, has changed consumers’ purchasing habits and how they engage with brands.”

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