How the doctor behind Shiffa traveled the world for a solution to stretch marks—and found it.
Written By NATALIA GARDUÑO
In a new series, VIOLET GREY profiles female beauty entrepreneurs who are considered industry game changers for their individual approach to business. Each one entered the conversation in her own manner and maintained a steady, if not unparalleled, trajectory with her indomitable spirit.
Chances are you have them. I definitely do, and for the majority of pregnant women, they are inevitable. Stretch marks are one of the myriad badges of honor that mothers wear, but they are also a source of self-consciousness for many. Dubai-based doctor-turned-entrepreneur Dr. Lamees Hamdan first noticed the lack of skin care products for expectant mothers when she became pregnant. Nothing in the marketplace addressed her needs, specifically the sensitivity and fragility of stretched skin. Hamdan set out to create a scar-eliminating elixir that would simultaneously nourish, hydrate and repair her skin. Nutrient-rich and loaded with healing herbs, her pregnancy oil became an instant hit and was whispered in the ears moms everywhere.
Hamdan’s success grew from there. Shiffa, which means “healing” or “to heal” in Arabic, launched in 2004 and became the first port of call for youth-enhancing products that were organic, high-end, and extremely effective all-in-one problem solvers—think Spanx, but for your skin. “There is no need to buy a lot of products to combat aging. Just get a few really effective ones that actually work!” says the doctor. “My first concern is getting results, and I want to use organic,” because, she explains, “it feeds the skin better.” And while natural ingredients are nothing new, Hamdan has crossed continents to study with natural healers and to source elements and key ingredients from their countries. The Shiffa brand essentially puts the world’s finest skincare within anyone’s reach.
Thirteen years and four kids later, Hamdan is staying true to her brand’s holistic approach, and for good reason—she’s a walking testament to its efficacy. “I don’t have a single stretch mark,” she says. Every concoction she creates packs more active ingredients than a green juice, and is designed to maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body. Therapeutic aromas and essential oils—like the ones found in Shiffa’s invigorating scrub—tamp down stress and keep up skin, making getting older slightly more palatable and certainly more luxurious. “I think your whole life shows in your face,” Lauren Bacall once told The Daily Telegraph, “and you should be proud of that.” Thanks to Dr. Lamees Hamdan, we will be.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
I moved [to a new] house over a year ago, but the bedroom still isn’t complete. I am going for a French Modern vibe, with the main colors being black, white, and green. I love being surrounded by art. In the bedroom, I am especially careful about the art selection. It has to give me good vibes and be beautiful. I love waking up and seeing a beautiful piece in front of me. I have a beautiful Hayv Kahraman [portrait of a] nude woman where the canvas is pierced by pins. Also: a green velvet bed and Gio Ponti mustard lounge chairs. I’m now am searching for the right bedside tables.
Please describe your bed and your favorite thing about it.
My bed is green velvet and my favorite thing is that it’s a Tempur-Pedic mattress. Even my kids love it!
What time do you wake up?
I travel a lot, usually between Dubai and Los Angeles. So when I am in Dubai, I go to sleep at 2 a.m. and wake up at 9 a.m, and in Los Angeles I wake up at 5 a.m.
How many hours of sleep do you require?
I always try to get at least eight hours of sleep.
Any bedside beauty essentials?
My Healing Balm, to use on my lips, hands, and feet. And water.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
I am not a coffee or tea drinker. I’m very chirpy in the morning! I always eat breakfast, even if I am pressed for time. I make sure I have a few spoonfuls of my homemade 24-hour yogurt. Protein in the morning is essential for good hair health. I also take half a glass of an organic green powder (I am using The Beauty Chef CLEANSE powder now, but I’m not too keen on the taste). These green powders really help your skin and eyes look healthy and bright.
When I have more time, I’ll have soup for breakfast; my favorite is Persian Ash-e-Resteh or Moroccan harira. Soup is comforting and filling. I make sure my soup has green veggies, like kale or bok choi, and a protein. And the stock is made using organic bones boiled for 24 hours to get all the nutritious collagen (which is great for skin and joint health).
Do you work out in the a.m.?
When I am in Los Angeles, I work out three times a week with my personal trainer, Alicia Strom. I also do hot yoga twice a week. In Dubai, I do Shaolin Kung Fu in the early afternoon or I swim.
What is your morning skincare regimen?
I wake up and drink a mug of hot water and lemon. I use Shiffa Facial Cleanser with a muslin cloth, Shiffa Balancing Toner (which prevents hormonal acne and has Melissa hydrosol, which acts as an oil blotter), Shiffa Rejuvenating Eye Remedy, and Shiffa White Tea moisturizer. Then I give myself a one-minute lymphatic drainage massage using the Shiffa Jade Roller, then I use EltaMD oil-free sunscreen SPF 45. All the products (including the sunscreen) are chemical and fragrance free. Shiffa is natural and organic, and I am still trying to find a good all-natural sunscreen that my skin can tolerate every day.
What makeup and products do you use on a daily basis?
Blush, lip liner, and mascara. For my skin color, my current favorites are RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Modest and Kjaer Weis Blossoming Cream Blush, Makeup Forever lip liner in 14C, Nars Dolce Vita lipstick for a nude lip and Tom Ford Flame for a Grace Kelly-like summer red, and Kjaer Weis black mascara.
What’s your hair situation in the a.m.?
Always a little flat at the root. I use Ouai Dry Shampoo foam to give it volume and to help mop up the excess oil (my hair tends to be on the oily side). Plus it smells great!
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
My BlackBerry! Emails, messages, WhatsApp, and so forth.
What business do you conduct before 10:00 a.m.?
Only what can be done from my computer while sitting on my bed. I really try not to schedule anything before 11. I need that time at home to work without interruptions. When I am in the office, I always get interrupted by calls, questions, etc. But when my husband is at work and the kids are in school, there is complete silence and I can totally concentrate.
What time do you head to your office?