BEAUTY

Azara Beautique: Beauty from The Middle East

Mona and Samira of Azara Beautique are a daughter and mother duo who loves the heritage of The Middle East, its natural ingredients and what it has to offer. All of this is also part of their tradition that they share in handmade soaps, made from the most exquisite natural ingredients with lots of love and care for the one who will be using them. Natural cosmetic is certainly on the rise but when you will hear their story you will know you want to try this expertise.

You say you are working with nature. In what way?

We only use natural ingredients to make our soaps, as we believe that our hair and skin will benefit greatly when using what is naturally nourishing and healing. Due to this principle, we do not use any artificial colours, flavours or fragrances or chemical alternatives to ingredients. Due to this all our soaps have beautifully natural earthy aromas. We choose and buy the ingredients ourselves, even if it means travelling to different countries in The Middle East to do so.

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Mother and daughter duo Samira and Mona of Azara Beautique

What inspired you to create Azara Beautique?

I was raised to believe in the power of natural remedies and my mother, who is a qualified homeopath, always used them whenever one of us became ill, broke out in a rash or had any sort of skin or hair disorder. We decided to try and make soaps and other products from the herbs, plants, resins, milks, honey and seeds that we were familiar with and that were effective at healing and improving the condition of various skin and scalp conditions and they became very popular among my mother’s patients who began to see remarkable results. Mum spent many weeks researching the best ways to make the products until she created her own formulas that worked well for everyone. After much positive feedback, we decided to take it to a higher level and create our own cosmetic brand in the UK. We believe that introducing our products and educating potential European customers about the foreign ingredients we use will be of benefit to many who suffer from various skin and scalp conditions.

What does Azara mean? How did you choose the name?

Azara in the Arabic language is the plural for Azraa, which means ‘pure and virgin’. We chose this Arabian name specially, as we only use the finest extra virgin oils and the purest of raw herbs and ingredients in our products in order for you to gain the maximum benefits that they provide to enhance your health and beauty. Azara is a popular and traditional Middle Eastern girl’s name also that dates back centuries, like our ingredients.

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Coconut and Mahlab Soap

Is the tradition/knowledge that is passed from mothers to daughters a big part of your company?

Yes, I was inspired to create Azara Beautique as a passionate attempt to preserve my mother’s knowledge about medicinal plants, herbs and other ingredients and pass it on to others so that they may benefit. I have experienced how effective the products are, and so I believe that there is somehow a moral duty behind educating people about the use of these ingredients. Much of the knowledge my mother has was passed onto her from her mother and grandmother and so on. It was an Arabian tradition for mothers to educate their daughters about medicinal plants, aside from cooking and good housekeeping so that they would be able to care for their family members after they got married.

You are a mother-daughter duo. How is it working with your mother/daughter?

Daughter: I personally enjoy it, because I perceive every step as a learning experience and there’s always something mum has to teach me about the various ways an ingredient can be used or the best combination of ingredients. It was frustrating at times, in the beginning when things weren’t going to plan, for example the soap was too soft or too hard but we worked together to perfect the formulas until we reached the desired end product.

Mother: It makes me very happy and proud that one of my children has taken interest and has become very passionate about what I have been so passionate about all my life. Unfortunately, much of the knowledge behind the traditional uses of medicinal plants are dying out, as the new generation does not have much interest in such subjects anymore – which creates a generation of people who rely solely on unnatural skin and hair care products that can be harmful, resulting in many skin and hair problems. Through Azara, we can create an awareness of the benefits of using natural products and it makes me happy to know that my daughter is putting in all her efforts to keep the tradition of passing this important knowledge from mothers to daughters alive.

Do you ever disagree when making decisions?

We haven’t really disagreed much about much – we have had discussions about the way the soaps should be packaged and sold etc but we always come to a mutual agreement in the end.

What can natural ingredients do for us and our skin?

There are many advantages to using natural products for your hair, body and skin, as not only are they healthy for you, but it is great for the environment too. Cosmetics that are eco-friendly and chemical-free will lessen the chances of skin irritations, side effects, the start of skin conditions and long term problems. Of course, unless someone is allergic to a particular ingredient, it is highly unlikely that people will suffer from using natural and organic products. Many people do not realise that the application of cosmetics that include chemicals, harsh preservatives and parabens can speed up the ageing process and cause skin cell damage, which will give you unhealthy and damaged skin in the long run. Chemicals can destroy the natural healing processes of the hair and skin, as they have no nutritional value. Plants, seeds, resins, honey, milk and herbs however can, providing that you use the right type of product for your skin and hair condition. For example, sidr leaves are known to dry the skin, so it is great for people with very greasy hair or skin, but not great for people who have very dry skin unless it is a skin condition, such as eczema.

What are some of the key ingredients you use in your soaps?

We use Syrian and Palestinian extra virgin olive oil in all of our soaps and this is our main ingredient, due to its amazing healing, nourishing, preserving and cleansing powers. We use a combination of different oils that include extra virgin sweet almond oil and extra virgin castor oil, but I must say that the most unique ingredients that we use that make us different from others are: mineral rich Zamzam water from Saudi Arabia, Madina roses and blackseeds from Saudi Arabia, Royal Green Hojari frankincense and myrrh from Oman, pure sidr honey, sidr and neem leaves from Yemen and Arabic gum from Sudan. These prime ingredients are what make our soaps special.

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They have soap for each skin and hair condition.

You only use ingredients from The Middle East. In what way are they special?

Many of the ingredients we use have been used for over 1000 years by Arabs to cure many diseases, skin disorders, scalp conditions and internal problems and they are found in mountains and desert areas that many young people are no longer aware of. We find this a shame, as there are so many valuable natural solutions to health problems all over the Middle East and in other countries, however the ones we use are particularly special to me, as I have been brought up to use them. We wish to revive the knowledge and traditional use of these exotic ingredients so people can learn and benefit from them. We also take great pride in the fact they are handmade by us with love and great care. Many of the pure ingredients we use aren’t easily found or sold in the UK, so our products are perceived and considered to be a new and unique addition to the European cosmetic market.

For what kind of skin types are your soaps intended for?

We have soaps for all types of skin and scalps! The great thing about them is that they can be used as natural shampoo bars and body soaps too. We have seen great results with people who have eczema on their body, for example, and hair problems.

Are all your products handmade?

Yes. Every single one, including all of the accessories. However, the accessories are made by others, primarily small family businesses in the Middle East, and not us.

Our skin can get dry and irritated during the winter. Which soap would you recommend we use to get our skin ready for spring?

Our most hydrating soap is the Camel Milk and Sidr Honey Soap. It is very nourishing and helps to preserve the moisture in skin cells. A more vegan option would be our Fig, Olive and Zamzam soap, which is high in minerals and has wonderful healing and hydrating properties.

What are your plans for the future of the business?

We hope to launch the entire product range that we have that includes face creams, lotions, deodorants, liquid shampoos and others. We also plan to sell some of the raw ingredients, such as Madina roses and frankincense pieces, so people can try them in teas, in drinks or as incense. We hope to have some of our products stocked in high end international boutiques and large department stores someday.

Each soap is priced £22, available from Azarabeautique.com

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