The natural beauty market in the Middle is forecast to grow thanks to demand for halal and vegan products and the launch of new brands in the sector.
The global trend for natural or organic beauty products is much in evidence in the Middle East, where the cross-over with halal beauty products provides the category with added impetus.Although it is difficult to quantify the true growth of the natural beauty market in the Middle East due to the multitude of definitions and certifications of ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, and the lack of statistics on the beauty market in the region, the past decade has seen a wave of activity around the segment.
Market-research company Euromonitor International states that women in Saudi Arabia, for example, see such products as “skin friendly”, while natural ingredients such as aloe vera, coconut oil, argan oil and shea butter have become popular for bath and shower products. In addition, vegan products (as they guarantee that no animal derivatives are used) often serve as a substitute for consumers looking for halal compliant beauty products.
Dubai: A Hot Bed for Naturals
Dubai in particular has been a hot-bed of development for new natural, organic or halal beauty brands, as well as for the regional seeding of international natural brands and naturals spa services. Chief amongst the local players is Dubai-based skincare brand Shiffa, created by dermatologist Dr Lamees Hamdan in 2004. A spokesperson says Shiffa is “the only natural and organic skincare brand that comes from the Middle East region and embraces the Arabic heritage and culture of the UAE.” The company, which is expanding globally (it recently launched in Europe) claims to be one of the region’s top-selling brands in Sephora.
Also from Dubai, Middle East Natural Cosmetics is producing skincare, make-up and fragrance products in countries like the US, France and the UK for distribution in its store network across the GCC and MENA region. The company says its products are either natural, mineral or halal, and recently launched TheOne, which it claims is the world’s first eau de parfum with official halal certification.
The natural beauty market in the Middle East is also notable for the number of expatriates living in Dubai who have launched natural brands. Among them are Irish entrepreneur Shirley Conlon, who launched Shirley Conlon Organics online in 2013. The brand is a skincare range developed for hot climates that claims to use high-quality internationally certified organic plant ingredients. Moroccan Mouna Abassay founded Izil after moving to Dubai in 2005, a natural beauty brand based on traditional Moroccan beauty blends of organic plant extracts and essential oils. Meanwhile, Pakistani Aly Rahimtoola created UAE-based natural brand Herbal Essentials in 2006. The brand uses Himalayan spring water as its key ingredient. Herbal Essentials is distributed nationally in some 200 pharmacies and has recently launched its first standalone store.
On the retail front, natural brands have traditionally had a hard time gaining and keeping shelf space in mainstream beauty retailers in most markets. This has seen the emergence of store specializing in natural beauty, such as Credo in the US for example. This trend has also happened in the Middle East. In 2009, the Solace Organics store launched in Abu Dhabi, which claims to be the UAE’s first beauty retailer to focus exclusively on organic products. (The retailer now claims to be the UAE’s number-one destination for organic cosmetics). It is thought that while more of these types of natural beauty stores will emerge, growth will the nonetheless most likely come from other channels, such as spas, pharmacies, and increasingly online – a channel that could give the market a major boost.