A woman holding bathing soaps

The Future of Skincare Is Here

Waterless is where it’s at.

Aqua. Four little letters, one major implication: the formula of your average skincare product is mostly water. In fact, read through the ingredients and you’ll notice that it’s listed upfront. But that’s about to change, if K-Beauty is to be believed. South Korea has long set the bar in the world of skincare and, now, it’s turning towards waterless skincare. Not only is it better for the environment for obvious reasons, but it’s also a lot more effective as water is replaced with ingredients that actually serve a purpose, like oils or botanical extracts.

Now, it may take a minute until waterless skincare products go mainstream, but there are more options than you realise. In fact, you don’t have to look far to find them – Upfill, a waterless personal care and cosmetics brand, was founded right here in the UAE! “Consumers in the Middle East are shifting to responsible beauty brands like Upfill because they want to take care of themselves and the planet. They are increasingly aware of the amounts of synthetic chemicals in their beauty routines and no longer wish to buy products full of water and plastics,” says co-founder Mariam Khafagy. 

“For decades, big beauty companies have been selling billions of products each year containing more than 70% of ‘aqua’, which is another name for water! Of course, water is relatively cheap when compared to other active ingredients. This is why adding it in cosmetics is more profitable for the bottled cosmetics brands.” As for what the industry does not account for? “The huge carbon footprint that results from moving millions of tons of water contained in cosmetics between continents, especially when we already have tap water at home,” she says.

Interestingly, Mariam says that the concept of waterless cosmetics is not new, contrary to popular belief. “Oil-based traditional cosmetics and waterless skincare have been around for thousands of years in the Arab world. Our ancestors knew better! Most of our clients permanently shifted to waterless beauty for their daily routines once they realised that our products work as well as their plastic bottle counterparts – and often much better. Change takes time, but the movement has definitely started and we’re proud to be pioneering it in the region.” She goes on to reveal that many active ingredients, such as vitamins or essential minerals, react when mixed with water. 

“Over time, these ongoing reactions result in a loss of effectiveness. The ingredients in solid beauty products do not experience these reactions and therefore maintain their benefits over time.” And then there’s the matter of preservatives. “Water from bottled skincare products constitutes a perfect environment for bacteria to grow – this is why industrial companies tend to add preservatives to stop germs from developing. These unnecessary preservatives can result in skin reactions caused by irritating chemicals and allergens,” explains Mariam, citing yet another reason to make the transition. Here, we’ve put together a handful of skincare essentials, all of which are waterless. Bonus: each of these products can be shipped to the UAE.

Clean Slate, ALLEYOOP

Vitamin C Probiotic Polish, OSEA

Botanical E Eye Balm, ONE LOVE ORGANICS

Jeju Lotus Leaf Essence Lotion, THE PURE LOTUS

#NOFILTER Makeup Remover Bar, UPFILL

Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer, GLOW RECIPE


Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask, CHARLOTTE TILBURY



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A woman looking at trees

Six Sustainable Fashion & Beauty Trends To Know

Major sustainability trends set to change the GCC landscape

From ‘organic’ to ‘clean’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘free trade’, these are just a few of the trends that have blown up across the consumer sector in recent years – and the fashion, beauty and cosmetics industry is no different. Consumers have become more aware of sustainability issues and their environmental footprint, and more conscious of what they put on, as well as, in their bodies. As such, there has been a rise in demand for sustainable products in the fashion and beauty categories.

Consumers now want to know everything about the production process of their products. From what was used in their making, where those elements were sourced; where the product was made and by whom; whether those people were paid fairly; and if their product is recyclable. The trend is also catching on in the UAE, where the region’s major fashion platform, Fashion Forward, has been increasingly showcasing sustainable collections; and beauty and cosmetics categories such as natural and organic, for example, have been growing at an estimated 12- 15% annually, equating to a total projected industry value of $4 – $5 billion by 2022. These trends are being supported by the UAE government’s own National Sustainable Consumption and Production Plan Framework, which is encouraging the uptake of green products across the entire consumer sector.

beauty trends

With that in mind, what trends can we expect in the coming years, and how will this impact the fashion, beauty and wellness sector? Here are the top trends anticipated to create the most significant waves in the UAE and the wider GCC region.

Curbing Excessive Consumption

The No. 1 trend on the list is the desire to curb excessive consumption. Role models such as David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have had an enormous impact on environmental awareness. People are now more conscious than ever of the non-biodegradable plastic that ends up in our oceans, the old clothes that end up in our landfills, and all-around issues of sustainability, that highlight the need for us as a planet to stop consuming at the rate which we are – current figures show we are consuming 1.6 times the earth’s capacity. As a result, consumers are increasingly considering the necessity of their purchases and turning to more sustainable brands. This is demonstrated in trends such as the move toward second-hand fashion goods sold by retailers such as RETOLD, and the simplification of beauty routines, removing unnecessary products that are no longer seen as providing any value, trends that are expected to grow in popularity over the coming years. For brands, it means they will face a much more competitive landscape and will need to cater to new consumer demands, increasingly embracing principles such as the circular economy.

Outfit Rentals

How many times have you gone out to purchase a new outfit for a one-off occasion, only to then store it away in the back of your wardrobe where it collects mothballs and dust? Those days may be over, as more businesses offer a rental model for special garments, in light of the earlier mentioned trend to move toward less consumption. Across the UAE, there are now plenty of places offering this service, including Designer-24 and SW ONE, which not only rent any clothing but provide customers with access to affordable luxury.

fashion and style trends

Dedicated Clean Beauty

From dedicated clean beauty sections in retail outlets and e-commerce websites to dedicated clean beauty brands, there is likely to be much more variety across the product category in the coming years. From a desire to avoid harsh and toxic chemicals to a greater demand for organic ingredients that are good enough to eat, consumers are demonstrating a preference for such products despite them being more costly. Among the most prominent trends in this category is the rise of ingredients such as CBD, thanks to its medicinal, anti-inflammatory effects (ideal for problematic skin), and the increasing popularity of Korean beauty, which prioritises effective skincare over make-up. Local, popular clean beauty brands include Khadi Natural, Gwyneth Paltrow’s NEOM Organics, and Hoiisa.

Transparent Cosmetic Labels

In line with the move toward ‘clean’, ‘natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘vegan’ beauty, consumers are increasingly seeking clear and transparent labeling to determine what they are buying into when they spend their hard-earned dollars on beauty products. Sadly, many brands make such claims, which, while true regarding some ingredients, do not necessarily refer to all of them. As such, they might contain an organic ingredient say, while the remaining components do not meet the same criteria. A 2017 campaign, Come Clean About Beauty, conducted by the Soil Association, showed how widespread the practice was. Sadly, as a result of greenwashing, the term used for such practices, consumer trust in corporations at an unsurprising all-time low. Consumers now want access to key information that drives their purchasing decisions to be featured on product labels. These include testing practices, ingredient sourcing, and environmental impact. In the future, we are likely to see an increasing number of certifications from industry-wide bodies that can back-up brand claims.

sustainable fashion

Transparent Fashion Labels

The transparent labeling trend is not exclusive to the beauty industry and is now extending to fashion. Across the sector, consumers similarly want to know about the quality of materials used in their garment production, and the labour practices adhered to in their making. This is particularly the case after events such as the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, in which over 1,100 people died, which was providing garments to major fashion retailers. Industry stakeholders are increasingly pushing major fashion retailers to disclose more information about their supply chains, with tools such as The Fashion Transparency Index, which addresses social and environmental policies, practices, and impacts. This drive is seeing more fashion lines launch dedicated sustainable lines, which focus on the reduction of their ecological impact. However, there is still much to be done in terms of transparency of the supply chain when it comes to workers’ rights, fair labour, and health and safety. For too long fashion brands have avoided addressing such issues due to the complexity of global supply chains. However, consumers are mounting pressure on them, and it is hoped that transparent labeling in this regard will become more widely adopted in the future. 

Alternative Eco-Friendly Materials

With the rise in concerns over sustainability, manufacturers are seeking alternative materials that can be used to produce garments with a lower carbon footprint, including being less water and fertiliser intensive. Among the most innovative alternative materials being used are algae, pineapple leaves, and Koba. Algae, used to make fibres and dyes, is drawing particular attention from the sports industry for athleisure garments and has also attracted the attention of H&M. It is entirely bio-degradable, as well as having multiple environmental benefits. Pineapple leaves meanwhile, once a widely used material, can be used to make fibres, as one company, Piñatex, is doing. (The leaves which it is made from would otherwise be discarded as waste.) As bioengineering benefits from more research, we will likely be seeing newer alternatives to traditional materials in the near future.


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HOISSA sustainable beauty products in wooden tray

Introducing Hoiisa – The UAE’s Innovative and Sustainable Clean Beauty and Wellbeing Platform

The region’s one-stop solution for clean and green beauty lands in the UAE

Adopting a cleaner, greener and more sustainable lifestyle is something The Gaggler is a big supporter of, so when we heard of a clean beauty site newly launched right here in the UAE, we couldn’t wait to share the news.

Founded by long-time sustainable living champion Mouna Azirar, Hoiisa offers a range of clean and sustainable beauty products that have been carefully researched, screened and curated to fit the belief that whatever we put on our skin must be beneficial to our health, wellbeing and the planet. 

sustainable beauty products

Developing an interest in clean beauty when she was expecting her first child, Mouna made the complete switch to sustainable and clean beauty products during her pregnancy, gradually transitioning to practice a more sustainable, healthier way of life as her family grew. “I’ve always been an avid advocate of living a healthy lifestyle,” says Mouna, whose career began in luxury fashion in London. “After my first trip to California a decade ago, I wanted to launch a wellness business. My move to Dubai inspired me to focus on a better beauty world in the Middle East by creating something pioneering that would educate the region on sustainable beauty and clean living. My aim is to connect green-based products to clean-conscious consumers.”

holistic beauty

Filling a void in the regional beauty market, and with the primary goal of creating and serving a community of conscious individuals looking for environmentally friendly, effective and high-performance beauty solutions, whilst supporting sustainable living practices, Hoiisa was borne – a wholly-transparent, one-stop beauty destination selling beauty and lifestyle products with 100 per cent clean ingredients, created using sustainable practices.

green beauty products

Mouna hopes to help people see the positive changes that sustainable clean beauty can do for their health, wellbeing and the environment. “We take real pride in the fact that there are no disguised chemicals or toxic ingredients available in the products available on Hoiisa,” says Mouna, who studied organic skincare as she developed her business plan. “You won’t find anything containing synthetic preservatives, GMOs, PEGs, TEA, DEA, synthetic fragrances, petrolatum and any other controversial ingredient, including non-sustainable palm oil, which is often added to beauty products to make them smell appealing, prolong their shelf life, or help them develop a foamy lather.”

natural beauty solutions

With a carefully-curated selection of brands on offer, each product is handpicked by Mouna to value kindness towards the body, mind, environment, animals, and the Earth, and must reach at least three of Hoiisa’s six specific criteria to make it onto the site: thoughtful ingredients; thoughtful production, thoughtful recycling, animal friendly, locally made, and charitable. 

Offering something for all genders and skin types, brands on offer include coveted lines from Grown Alchemist, Maisey, Salt & Stone, Rahua, Tabitha James Kraan, Solaris Laboratories NY, Erbaviva and Mad Hippie, as well as homegrown brands KJ Serums and Shirley Conlon Organics.

For more information and to purchase products, check out the full list of brands at hoiisa.com


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