I met dermatologist-turned-skincare creator Dr. Lamees Hamden this week, founder of Dubai-based natural and organic skincare range, Shiffa – which means heal, in Arabic. Before long, Lamees and I were speaking in Arabic together (she is one of the 11% of Dubai residents originally from Dubai, and I’m originally Iraqi) so we spoke about Shiffa’s popularity in the middle east and what makes Shiffa stand out in a crowded beauty market…
What is the Shiffa story?
I created Shiffa to be like the organic version of La Prairie. I wanted something to use on my skin when I fell pregnant that wasn’t full of synthetic ingredients but still beautiful and luxurious. We began as a spa brand at Six Senses in Dubai and then launched in Sephora. Suddenly we outsold all the major skincare brands in Sephora including Shiseido and Clarins, it was incredible.
You have a small collection of products – what makes them so special?
I think of what I’d like a product to do – heal and nourish dry skin, reduce appearance of pores, reduce pigmentation, brighten or tighten – and then work with my chemist to put together the best combination of natural ingredients. I don’t use any synthetic perfumes or colours and I’m a bit of a perfectionist so one product could take up to two to three years to develop.
Where do you source your ingredients and is everything organic?
We source the best oils from around the world so will choose organic where possible. The pregnancy range is 100% organic and the rest of the range is minimum of 85% organic, mainly due to water content which can’t be organic. The Healing Balm contains 19 active ingredients and is a multi-award winner, beautiful for repairing dry and sore skin.
What are your favourite ingredients?
I cannot choose just one favourite ingredient – a good product needs a minimum of six great ingredients! Vitamin C and E are essentials; I love meadowfoam seed oil – very good for moisturising skin; evening primrose oil; frankincense, marine extracts such as seaweed; and I love chamomile for reducing inflammation in the skin – another essential.
What are your favourite products in the range?
I use them all every day! But if I had to choose a favourite I would say Energizing Body Oil and White Tea Moisturiser.
You have four children and an international business, how do you take time out?
I do Shaolin Kung Fu. Yes really! I’ve been doing it for three years now, and the Shaolin Master comes to my house, three times a week for a two hour session with my sister. It’s spiritual but also physically intense and keeps me fit. I also love cooking – I eat everything (which is probably why I’m not like a skinny model!) but I’m very healthy – I recently bought a dehydrator (to soak and dry seeds and nuts) and use the ingredients in green smoothies, along with anything organic from the market – rocket, kale, parsley, sprouts and dates for a nice taste. I love it!