Sometime ago I had a question about whether French skincare was any good from a half Egyptian woman living in Canada called Yasmine. She described herself as a “freelance makeup artist, beauty junkie and organic modernist bohemian.” She sounded like an interesting person so when I replied saying that yes French skincare is generally very good I asked her a question about what Egyptian skincare was like. Her reply was so full I resolved to ask her for a bit more detail and ask if I could run it as a blog post. Unfortunately I got sidetracked and have only just got round to doing it. When I tried to e-mail her it bounced back. But I think what she sent was enough as it stood, so here it is.
If you are out there Yasmine thanks for your reply and I hope you don’t mind me using it without permission. Please get back in touch if you want to add anything.
Thanks for the reply!
With regards to the typical Egyptian beauty regime, it really depends on the individual’s socio economic background. Almost 40% of Egyptians live on or below the poverty line, so their options/inclination towards beauty is very limited.
That being said, women in Egypt love their makeup and love to smell nice, so whatever their budget, they make an effort! Traditional makeup tends to veer towards the kohl and lipstick combo, bypassing concealer, foundation, highlighter etc. It’s basic, but it’s the norm.
Since Egypt is a conservative country with many veiled practicing muslim women, the effort is usually made for the husband to enjoy at home. Salons are present in every neighborhood, many very basic, yet manis and pedis as well as hair are essential to the average woman’s regime.
If a family is well off, they usually tend to go to the nearest Sephora, mall, or beauty outlet for French skincare, or a spa at a 5 star hotel.
Traditionally, especially with the Bedouins of Egypt and those in the South, common home based beauty regimens include honey, olive oil, sugar and salt, as well as eggs and coconut oil for hair masks.
Hair removal is traditionally a sugar/water/lemon based taffy called “halawa” which is applied directly to the skin and removed in sharp upwards movements against the hair growth. It can be bought in drugstores, but most girls know how to make it at home. Threading is another popular method.
On a girl’s wedding night, she is bathed and scrubbed hammam style and usually massaged with oils, and oud oil. Hair is treated with olive or coconut oil.
Hope this was helpful!
Note from Colin – If you haven’t heard of it before Oud Oil is a wood oil similar to cedarwood oil or sandalwood oil.
Another note from Colin - Yasmine has been in touch and given this post her blessing.