By Saira Noorani
Nilo Haq never stops learning. Despite being one of the leading beauty influencers in the Middle East, with stints at MAC, Toni and Guy and Alexandre Zouari under her belt, as well as founder of the immensely popular Desi Beauty Blog and Saudi Beauty Blog, Haq is still an eager student.
We were lucky enough to pin her down for an interview in Dubai, on a 24-hour stop over from Hollywood – where she had been flown out by Smashbox and Glamglow to learn newer and better makeup techniques.
Here she talks with Women’s Own about her trip to LA, detailed make up recommendations, and the strange things people screenshot on her Snapchat!
You were in LA a couple of weeks ago meeting the creators of Smashbox and Glamglow. What tips did you pick up? Can you tell us more about their new products?
LA was such an amazing experience, and to meet the owners of Glamglow and Smashbox Cosmetics was incredible! I picked up some great tips from both teams that I’d love to share. First, I got to watch first hand makeup application and highlighting from Lori and Will, the brands Pro Artists. Watching them, I realised in the Middle East, and even in Pakistan, we put on so much foundation, that’s completely unnecessary. I absolutely loved how they used BB Cream all over the face and applied it so lightly with a small concealer brush and then used a fuller coverage studio foundation on top, only on the areas that needed more coverage. Less is more!
You really just need to build up the product where the skin needs it with a light feathering motion. I also loved the Smashbox powders because they are as light as air but still set and give coverage without looking cakey even in a hot climate. It was refreshing to see skin look so flawless even in person without caking on layer after layer which has become the trend in the East.
Always apply any highlighting products (cream or powder) with your fingers. Use your ring finger and press it on the high points of your face for the best application.
I also visited Glamland and got to test out all the Glamglow masks. My two favourites are the Youthmud mask (black one) and Supermud (white one). The Glamglow masks instantly work – that’s their criteria! They are pricey but really give the skin the best base before makeup. The Youthmud, which is the original mask, works like a dream to get rid of uneven skin texture and provides a noticeable radiance even when your skin is not looking its best. It’s definitely one to try. The Supermud works great with problem skin. It helps to clear up blemishes (just apply on top of a spot and sleep with it on over night). When applied on full face it takes out blackheads and leaves the skin looking amazing.
You ranked number 2 last year in Net-a-porter’s Beauty Social Pioneers, that’s a big deal! How does one get to this?
Thank you 🙂 OMG, it was truly such an honour to be selected by the Net-a-porter team. I work hard every single day, and I set short term and long term goals for myself. I work on personal and career goals side-by-side because over the years I realised that to truly feel like you’ve “made it” there needs to be balance. Once I achieve them, I set new goals for myself. I think naturally no one will ever feel that they’ve truly made it as you keep wanting to reach higher, and I think that’s healthy. You should push yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Your goals should scare you, you should never get comfortable.
What is Nilo Haq’s focus right now? You have been lucky enough to live in a few cities, where are you based now?
I recently moved back to my hometown Toronto but come and go from the Middle East – Jeddah and Dubai for different projects. My main following is from the Middle East and Pakistan so for my social media and blogs I try to keep my content focused to those regions.
My passion is makeup and I love to do brides, so I’ve set up a Bridal Studio and Academy in Toronto where I am taking clients and as well teaching makeup. There are more details on my website www.nilohaq.com. There is also quite a demand for masterclasses so I do have some planned for my girls in the Middle East and Pakistan in 2016/2017.
Why did you decide to create a desi beauty blog?
There are so many beauty blogs out there but not anything specifically for desis. Beauty advice for desis is different, as we have different skin and different issues. Our beauty platform is built on a team of experts and celebrities who understand what being desi is all about. Our team is truly global with iconic desis from California, Houston, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Brussels, Stockholm, Dubai, Jeddah, Lahore, Karachi, Mumbai and New Delhi!
Desi Beauty Blog is the #1 beauty blog for desis and we only hope to grow bigger and have a community where any desi in the world can come to our blog to find product reviews and beauty advice that is relevant to her.
How is social media Nilo different to real life Nilo?
Social Media only shows 10% of who you are. You pick and choose what you want people to see so you may follow someone but not truly know who they are in real life. With the birth of Snap Chat I try to show all aspects of my life, including being a mother to my two boys, everyday struggles of real life and my love for fitness and health. I also share product reviews, makeup tips and I do Q&As. I share everything about myself, but I want to be real with my followers. I love to keep a connection and I do read every single message that comes to me. I try my best to answer as many as I can. It feels so rewarding to be able to inspire women from all walks of life from different parts of the world.
What has been your most popular Instagram post, and why do you think this particular one was the most popular?
I think DIY Beauty Videos are the most popular, women love these!
What is the strangest snap that has been screen-shotted?
LOL! People screenshot the weirdest things sometimes. I find it strange when people screenshot pictures of my children.
What is your morning and evening routine?
My beauty routine is always changing as a beauty blogger. I need to keep myself up-to-date with the latest products and be able to recommend the best to my followers. Some products consistent in my beauty routine are:
Retinal A: This is a must!!! It’s truly one of the best kept beauty secrets. It helps to get rid of fine lines and wrinkles, marks/scars and keeps the skin looking youthful. I use a stronger dosage of 1%.
Vitamin C serum: It’s important to use a minimum of 15% ascorbic acid. This is another essential as it helps to promote collagen, fights aging, lightens pigmentation and keeps the skin looking fresh.
Facial cleansing brush: I go between my Braun Face and Clarisonic which I use once a day at night. It cleans your skin 6 times better than using your fingers alone. Helps avoid breakouts, keeps skin feeling super clean and exfoliates all the dead skin away.
Facial wipes: I use these daily to remove makeup. I go between Neutrogena and Johnson’s Face Wipes as they even remove waterproof and long-wearing products.
How does Pakistani beauty differ from Saudi and Canadian makeup?
Makeup differs because of climate, culture, trends and product availability. In Pakistan, it doesn’t matter what your skin type is, you need to prepare it to deal with the hot climate. Pakistani and Middle Eastern makeup is very similar in terms of the base, but eye makeup varies as Arabs have stronger lines and more intense eye makeup as compared to Pakistanis. Canadian makeup is even lighter than a party makeup in Pakistan or the Middle East. Canadians like it a lot more natural, softer and less dramatic even as a bride. The climate in Canada also changes from cool dry weather to warmer so the base also changes according to the skin type.
What was the last thing you Googled?
Healthy food options for Ramzan 🙂
Who was the last person you added to Snapchat?
I’m very much into fitness and I like following fitness accounts to keep me motivated and help me get ideas on new fitness programmes and diets. The most recent would be: SHEDFAT – such a great account!