A/Behind the Scenes: Mai AlAthel

A/Behind the Scenes interview series will focus on the movers and shakers of the beauty and wellness industry in the region - hoping to inspire others and cultivate a community of beauty cuties! 

To kick off the A/Behind the Scenes interview series, we thought who better to interview than the A/Boss Babe herself - Mai AlAthel

Alexandra Venison, former Beauty Editor at Vogue Arabia, has a name synonymous with beauty and wellness in the region. So, naturally we were obsessed with the idea of having her interview Mai. 

AV: What is your first memory of beauty?

MA: My first memory of beauty would have to be, I guess I was 7 or 8 at the time, when my mother came to me and asked to put henna in my hair. I abhorred the smell and adamantly said no. She tried for about 15 more minutes and I gave in, but not without asking for goodies to ease the pain! I looked at her boudoir and pointed at this beautiful red Chanel lipstick and told her “only if you give me that”. She handed me the lipstick and continued to slather henna in my hair. Needless to say, I only wear red lipstick & have not put henna on since!

AV: How do you think your Saudi heritage has shaped this?

MA: I grew up in the United States and moved to Saudi Arabia when I was 14. Looking back at the memory, I can safely say that my mother’s desire to put henna in my hair was NOT something she picked up in the United States. 

AV: Why did you decide to launch your own beauty brand? 

MA: I grew up watching my mom take time out of her day to sit in front of her boudoir – a wellness wonderland filled with intricate bottles, cotton puffs and lipsticks in all shades of red. She’d gracefully massage creams and elixirs onto her face and décolleté while explaining to my sisters and I the significance of taking care of our skin (our largest organ and our second skin – our mental health).

 I also moved around a lot. Studied art in London, worked in fashion in New York and lived in a world surrounded by beauty. The entirety of my being existed to observe, and absorb, what makes people beautiful. I became obsessed with living in beauty and surrounding myself with it. The impact of everything I’ve experienced and the need to create led me to develop the region’s first clean beauty platform. Fusing my love for aesthetics, with my passion for protecting the skin I’m in, lead to the birth of Allmanac Beauty (A/B) 

AV: Why is eco-friendly beauty important to you?

MA: It’s for the same reason that clean eating is important to me. What we put on our bodies is equally as important as what we put in them. If I’m going to honour my organs from the inside, I should also honour my largest organ – my skin!

AV: Do you think more people in the region are turning to eco-friendly beauty?

MA: While the region is known to have a massive beauty market, and one of the largest spends on beauty products globally, there is an element of education that is missing. It is true more people are turning to eco-friendly beauty, but there is still a long way to go. Albeit the majority of the region is conscious about the ingredients of the products they purchase, they do not necessarily know the effects - be it good or bad - of said products. This is where Allmanac Beauty comes in and looks to disrupt the industry.

AV: Are there any beauty rituals that have been passed down in your family?

MA: We are a family of 4 ladies and there have been many rituals that have withstood the test of time. I’d consider them wellness rituals, more so than anything.

  • On Friday’s we put oil in our hair, masks on our faces and get our nails done. Every Friday without fail (travelling or not).
  • We drink an elixir of Chamomile, Ginger, Rosemary, Black pepper and Mint after sunset. My grandmother swears by it, my mother instilled it in us, and we as her daughters believe in it – it make us feel good from the inside!

AV: What’s one beauty secret your mother taught you?

MA: She taught me all I know about beauty and wellness. At the age of 13 she bought me my first skincare routine bundle – cleanser, toner, moisturizer and eye cream. She taught me to tap my skin when putting the products in (I’ve evolved it into lightly slapping my face until I’m red hahaha). She taught me to start off my morning by stretching my lazy bones and rubbing a rose water ice cube over my face after I’ve cleansed it.

She teaches me new things every day.

AV: What’s your personal top beauty tip?

MA: Soooo many, but these are the holy grail: 

  • 1. Floss your teeth! It's not an additional step in your oral hygiene routine, it really is more important than brushing your teeth! Make it a habit and you'll thank me one day!
  • 2. If you buy a product you don’t necessarily like on your face, use it on your hands. No product should go to waste, and you WILL notice a difference      on your hands.

What are your favorite beauty spots in Saudi?

Four Spa – consistency is key for me and Four Spa is consistent in all aspects.

Wabi Sabi – Similar to the Allmanac Beauty ethos, Wabi Sabi looks to educate its patrons on the benefits of clean eating, and help people understand that vegan food doesn't have to be bland and boring! It's just a lovely place with even lovelier food. They also have workshops and events to further help develop a community of conscious eaters!  

Allmanac Beauty – I’m biased, obviously, BUT every time I travelled, I’d return with an entire suitcase of ‘good for you’ beauty purchases, which was not sustainable. So, I am thankful I have given myself and my A/Beauty Babies the opportunity to find good for you beauty products at the swipe of a thumb.