What I Learned at Beauty World Saudi

Developing at a rate of exponential proportions, Saudi Arabia’s appetite for innovation was on full display at Beauty World Saudi Arabia, and everywhere in Riyadh, to boot.

I was exhibiting our sustainable Indian sandalwood on behalf of our sister brand, Copperhead Sandalwood but managed to sneak out to see what was on show at Saudi’s most important festival of beauty.

I was originally commissioned to write this article for Retail Beauty but thought our Heartwood customers might be interested too. So here’s what I learned about Saudi beauty trends this past week:

1. Accredited skincare

The unstoppable rise of social media has presented the opportunity for dermatologists and cosmetic chemists to take to TikTok among other platforms to comment on the validity of marketing claims and the efficacy of product ingredients. Consumers have been receptive to the opportunity to connect with independent skincare experts, which has put pressure on skincare brands to implement higher standards of quality assurance around their marketing claims.

2. Ramadan skincare

Islam is the most widely followed religion in the Middle East, with 85% of the population belonging to the Muslim faith. The vast majority of Muslims will participate in the tradition of honouring Ramadan, a month of fasting, service, gathering and worship. Beauty brands have begun to leverage the opportunity to develop product lines and carefully plotted rituals to complement the traditions associated with the holy month.

I observed a gift set of sheet masks – one for each evening of Ramadan, each mask serving a different purpose
for significant milestones of the month, adorned with Arabic symbols. Another brand promoted the ‘Ramadan Glow Challenge’, calling upon consumers to commit to a month of dedicated product use to reveal their best skin yet.

 3. Localisation

The diversification and rapid growth of the Saudi economy has seen a lift in the emergence of Saudi beauty start-ups, which consumers have whole-heartedly embraced. This trend is compounded by ease of access to education on skincare online, allowing customers to digress from well-known international brands in favour of home-grown Saudi counterparts.

4. New delivery systems on trusted ingredients

Retinol face wipes, a collagen powder mask sheet mask activated with its accompanying face mist, an encapsulated Vitamin C moisturiser resembling a magic eye illusion. These were but a few examples of some of the new products innovating with trusted ingredients by leveraging effective or novel delivery systems. The trend of ‘skinification’ in makeup represents an extension of this trend - foundation infused with serum and the use of natural extracts in eye and lip products all breathing new life into known and loved makeup products with well-known skincare ingredients.

5. Indigenous Natural Ingredients  

Australians are no strangers to the power of antioxidant rich botanicals in skincare – Kakadu plum, desert lime and flame tree spring to mind. Along the same vein, the middle eastern market has experienced an uplift in appreciation for their native flora and fauna – offering camel milk, turmeric, date oil and rosewater as hero ingredients with accompany rituals in popular product lines.

6. Scaling a 1 to 1 relationship with the customer

Some of the most successful start-up beauty brands in the GCC region are local brands who have built community via personalisation technology, in-store presence, dedicated local social media and authentic
connection. AI and machine learning have allowed skincare brands to scale a one-to-one relationship with customers online using personalisation technology. One example of this is Saudi brand Ilik, which uses dynamic questionnaires to give more people access to dermatologists who curate personalised formulations for each customer.