For someone who lives and breathes beauty, Pakistani make-up artist and salon owner Nabila is refreshingly simple.
At a pop-up for her new brand Zero Makeup in Dubai last week, she is dressed in striking red monochrome, down to her sunglasses. Nabila’s own make-up is subdued and her attitude unassuming, qualities that can be attributed to her first product — one palette with five different products in it.
“It’s very minimal and very much like I am... It’s very clean, clear and reliable. I live this. It’s my psyche. It’s my life. It’s my vision,” she says in an interview with Gulf News tabloid! at Bloomingdale’s in The Dubai Mall.
The palette has been a long time in the making. More than 30 years after opening her own salon, and after trying on countless products as part of her job, Nabila knew she wanted to create something of her own.
“I could not find something that I liked so I had to make it myself. Because I didn’t think that anything did justice to my dark circles or my skin tone… That’s why I feel that I made something which I needed,” she says. “I have access to anything because 32 years I’m running my chain of salons. We buy the best products, and I buy everything that comes out just to see if it’s better than [my own] product and I’ll be very happy to say that I haven’t found much which is as convenient.”
Nabila’s palette is definitely convenient. It comprises a concealer, a foundation, a pink blush, red lipstick and a pressed powder — all in one sleek, metallic compact.
“Zero Makeup is an all-in-one face perfecting palette and it gives you flawless results in less than a minute. That’s the whole concept; that you reach out for one box,” Nabila says. “Fifteen years ago I mixed this for myself and I kept on improving it and improving it… and the past five years was making the product in the finest lab in Germany. Once I had the idea I developed the product with them and then I worked on the packaging and we launched it [last summer].”
Nabila’s palette comes in six shades, which does not compare to many large international brands that have 30 to 40 shades of foundation. However, Zero Makeup’s inclusion of some dark shades is still an improvement, considering the fact that many brands in South Asia don’t cater to deep skin tones at all.
The make-up artist does understand the need for a diverse shade range, especially in a region where whitening creams are widely marketed and used by women and men alike.
“I’m very happy about making this a very inclusive product and especially with brown skin tones. I feel like I want to empower the brown girl who especially in Pakistan and India are made to feel like you need to be fair [and] left out. I want to tell her ‘you’re beautiful, you’re strong. Just wear the right make-up and be the best version of yourself’,” Nabila says.
Even though Nabila’s career as a make-up artist would have seen her create dramatic and heavy looks for the runway, for brides and for editorial shoots, Zero Makeup is all about minimalism.
“I feel like the whole concept is that it shouldn’t look like make-up, so it’s zero visibility. That’s why we didn’t use a colour [for the packaging] because I couldn’t decide which colour I liked,” she says, explaining the name and the simple packaging. “It took me around five years to get the packaging right because I didn’t want to reach out for another box to finish my look. I wanted one box that should be able to give me the entire [look].”
At one point in our conversation with Nabila, she enthusiastically picked up a palette from a table near us and (with permission) started applying it on this journalist with her fingers; no brushes needed.
She says: “I want to simplify your life… I want to tell you that convenience is very important. I want to tell you that on the go, looking good, being ready for your Instagram is very important now, so you need to have a tool that matches that requirement.”
Asked to describe her brand in three words, Nabila says: “Less. Is. More.”
Check it out
Zero Makeup is priced at Dh180 is available until January 13 at Bloomingdale’s, The Dubai Mall, and on zeromakeup.com