Let’s talk about physical beauty. If you were to write down a list of what ‘beauty’ is to you, would clear skin, shiny hair or sharp cheekbones make your shortlist? And whose features would make the cut?
With a growing number of Arab beauties like Imaan Hammam, Kenza Fourati, and Hanaa Ben Abdesslem gracing the covers of magazines the world over, as definitive modern day Arab icons. It begs the question: What and who represents the ideal Arab beauty now? We asked experts across varying fields and came up with the perfect face according to today’s standards (and the most requested aesthetic procedures).
A rendering of the ‘perfect Arab face’ according to the interviewed surgeons
“Bella Hadid has out of this world bone structure.” states Lebanese makeup artist, Sharbel Hasbany. With her razor-sharp cheeks, pouty mouth and feline eyes she’s nothing short of supermodel striking. “Halima Aden is mesmerising, her face shape and features are just beautiful,” he adds.
If our skin is a reflection of our overall health, it certainly makes a huge difference on someone’s first impression of you. “There are a couple of reasons why having clear skin has become a necessity today in the Middle Eastern region,” says Mona Mirza, Founder of Biolite Aesthetic Clinic, “Firstly, women who wear an abaya like to ensure that their skin always looks great – it’s a form of self-expression.” A reflection of overall health and good nutrition, good skin is also “synonymous with vitality and youthfulness. One person who immediately comes to mind for her perfect complexion is Kuwaiti beauty Fouz Alfahad, it’s flawless.”
Traditionally rimmed with kohl, almond-shaped eyes are a symbol of Arab beauty. I asked M.A.C Senior Artist Vimi Joshi, who—in her expert beauty opinion—has the most beautiful eyes? “Salma Hayek,” she replied “Did you know that Salma Hayek is half Lebanese?”. Having worked with the star, she described her eyes as “soulful” and so beautiful that she only needed to wear minimal makeup.
So, if the eyes are the window to the soul – then the eyebrows are surely the frame? “Correct,” says celebrated makeup artist, Samira Olfat (CEO and Chief Trainer of the Max Factor Make-up Academy) as she urges us “not to follow trends, but to look at the shape of the eyebrows juxtaposed with the eyes and the nose… Your eyebrows should be sisters not twins,” she warns. Samira names striking Iranian-Lebanese beauty, Diala Makki, as the modern brow pin-up. “Diala has perfectly shaped brows. The start, the arch and the tail of the brow are all in perfect alignment.”
Let’s consider for a moment that if beauty truly is a science, then proportion and symmetry of the facial features should have a significant impact on how attractive a face is deemed to be. London’s Harley Street surgeon, Dr. Julian De Silva, believes beauty relates to the ‘Golden Ratio’ (a proportion principle stemming from the Ancient Greeks). Keeping this in mind, his face-mapping formula sees well known beauties including Kate Moss, Amber Heard and Kim Kardashian make the cut. “Kim Kardashian has a well-proportioned face,” seconds Dr. Omar Aouni El Khalili (Medical Director and Specialist Dermatologist at Biolite Aesthetic Clinic). Although he says fewer of his patients are seeking to look like the celebrity du jour, he acknowledges, “Kim has good volume in her upper-mid face and tapering towards her chin.” Meanwhile Dr. Jaffer Khan (Founder & Medical Director of Aesthetics International and Nova Clinic) says “The chin and jawline are both extremely important when it comes to the art of facial aesthetics,” he says, before stating that we should also consider the prominence of the chin, the nose, and the lips from the side profile and states that “if any of these structures are under projected, it takes away from the facial harmony.”
Lips are a sensitive subject. A focal point for many faces, and if augmented incorrectly, they can take on duck-like proportions or look abnormally large. “The lips are the most important facial feature after the eyes. Nadine Nassib Njeim has the most perfect lips. They are plump, pouty and defined – the very opposite of ducky,” confides Samira Olfat.
What of the nose? Often regarded as the ‘Arab hump’ the nose is of the upmost importance “as it sits front and centre on the face,” says Dubai’s American British Surgical & Medical Centre visiting surgeon, Dr. Marc Mani (the man responsible for the successful rhinoplasty surgery on beauty guru Huda Kattan). He believes that the tip of the nose should be between 90 and 106 degrees. “There’s no such thing as the perfect nose,” but the dimensions, symmetry and angle are all important factors as is “respecting Arab genetics.”