Monday 12 May 2014

Talking Skincare With Shiffa Founder Dr Lamees Hamdan

Dr Lamees Hamdan: natural organic skincare is best
One of the joys of beauty blogging is discovering new brands and writing about them. Since launching Face Up Beauty, I have got to know some truly beautiful products that previously had fallen under my radar, perhaps because they are not sold on the high street, or owned by multinational corporations with a penchant for supporting their launches with big budget, high profile ad campaigns.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Lamees Hamdan, the founder of Dubai-based natural skincare company Shiffa. If you frequent Selfridges’ beauty hall in London you may have spotted the luxury brand in-store. If you don’t then you may not be aware of Shiffa, as I wasn’t. But as of last month you can now check out the entire Shiffa face and body range at Space NK online, including the best-selling Healing Balm, Basil & Mint Body Scrub, and Aromatic Facial Cleanser pictured below.

Dr Lamees, a medical doctor, founded Shiffa in 2004 after searching for a natural skincare oil whilst pregnant. Unable to find one she liked, Dr Lamees decided to develop her own and before long Shiffa was born. Fast forward 10 years and Shiffa is now a multi-award winning beauty brand with 25 products (and growing), an A-list clientele, a luxury Shiffa Express Spa in Dubai, as well as spa contracts with major luxury hotel chains including Trump.

Set out before me at our  interview were Shiffa products to sample, including her stunning new perfume Koré, and  Olive and Mint Cold Pressed Arabian Soap (reviews below).

The packaging of Dr Lamees’ range is indeed glorious, but it is the aromas of her formulas that truly captivate me. They are rich, exotic and sumptuous. Among the key ingredients across her line, all sourced from their countries of origin, are Iranian rose, South East Asian tamanu, Indian amber, Egyptian jasmine, Lebanese orange blossom and African shea butter.
More body products in the luxury Shiffa range

Dr Lamees stresses that while her products are natural and organic, her approach to skincare is very much results driven. The brand values of Shiffa embrace her passion for holistic healing (Shiffa means ‘to heal’ in Arabic) and her vision for integrating nature with science.

“My first concern is results and I want to get results using organic. It feeds the skin better, just like organic farm fresh foods feed the skin better. Skincare is like food,” says Dr Lamees. “Having a good skincare regime won’t make much difference to you when you’re in your 20s and 30s; but it will from your 40s.”

Dr Lamees is very smart and beautiful and she has very clear ideas on what we should (and shouldn’t) be doing to our skin as we age. Her opinions are fascinating and in places perhaps not what some of us – myself included! – would like to hear. But they made me sit back and think, so much so that I want to share them with you here.

Skincare Through The Ages

“I think people in their 20s and 30s generally take too much care of their skin,” says Dr Lamees. “They come to me and say ‘I’m using this anti-ageing cream’ and I say ‘for what?’ In your 20s you should be cleansing, toning and moisturising. By mid 20 you should start  using an eye cream, and cream on your neck. Another good thing to do is microdermabrasion, once every two weeks.”

At 30 Dr Lamees suggests adding to your regime a vitamin A product, such as Retinol or Rentin A. But she warns, “Please don’t do these invasive peels. I think it weakens the integrity of the skin. Weak skin means 5 years down the line you’ll have more wrinkles and more pigmentation.”


Dr Lamees loves lasers, noting how they stimulate collagen production and thicken the skin. “I think it’s where the future lies,” she says. “But I don’t think we’re at a stage where we can have lasers at home yet. I think we’re maybe 10-15 years away from that. I err on the side of caution.” Oh dear, I have a Philips ReAura laser at home and I love it!

Sun Protection

As someone living in a warm climate like Dubai, it’s not surprising that Dr Lamees is ‘hot’ on sun protection – she uses a whopping 60SPF daily! It’s a habit we should all follow. “Use something more than SPF 35 because you never use as much on your skin as you really need to,” says Dr Lamees. “Also make sure you have both UVA and UVB protection.

Interestingly, Dr Lamees does not currently offer an SPF product: “I’ve yet to find a natural organic one that feels nice on the skin, so I’m still developing that.” Another product in development, which I’m sooo excited about, is Shiffa’s first serum, due out next year. “It’s for people aged 30+ and it will have a high dose Vitamin A. It really is a serum not for the faint-hearted,” reveals Dr Lamees.

So what of the just launched lines? Here’s my take:

Shiffa Koré Perfume- Review

A deeply alluring fragrance. It opens with fresh green notes of violet leaf and rose scent, turns sweet and fruity, then seductively wraps  you in a heady bottom note blend of  musk and tonka bean, kept light by powdery heliotrope. It’s daring – it’s delicious. Price £95 for 100ml and available here.

Shiffa Olive and Mint Cold Pressed Arabian Soap - Review

Made with olive oil and mint extract, this soap has a fresh and subtle fragrance, not in the least bit herby (not a fan of big minty scents). It is gentle and moisturising. A treat for hands. Price £13 for 100g and available here. 

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