Welcome to My Beauty Identity—a new series set to explore the intertwining worlds of beauty and identity. We'll be investigating how people from all walks of life use their beauty routine to empower and uplift and asking them to define beauty in the modern age. This week, we spoke to Sahar Arrayeh, a doctor by trade, but also a super-inspiring fashion and beauty influencer, too. Yes, Sahar is known for her seemingly never-ending collection of headscarves, but she's also carved out a pretty striking aesthetic in the beauty space. Here, she tells Byrdie UK about what beauty means to her.
How would you describe your beauty identity?
In all honesty, I've never really thought about defining my beauty identity before, but I think my aesthetic is really diverse. It changes all the time, often in line with my mood. I can go really minimal sometimes, and at other times, I can go all out. To me, beauty is about representing me—how I feel and who I am.
I wouldn't say I use it as a mask, but it definitely is related to what's happening inside. You can tell what mood I'm in by the way I'm dressed or the way I do my makeup. Sometimes I put in extra effort to make myself feel better because, to me, beauty and makeup are just about having fun.
Quite often, the look I go for is affected by the environment I'm in. Sometimes I like to go for a certain style that's more around my culture and ethnicity, or I might like to go for something super clean-cut and classic. It really just changes all the time. But I love to be colourful.
What's the one beauty look that summarises who you are?
My go-to look is basically eyebrows, mascara and a bold lip. It's super easy. I have way too many lipstick—a whole bowl full of them. It was the first beauty product I ever loved. When I was around 9 years old, I used to watch Fashion TV all the time, and I vividly remember someone on that channel saying, "A lady never leaves her house without lipstick." It's really silly, but it kind of had an impression on me, and it meant I obsessed about lipstick from a young age.
Nowadays, which lipstick I choose really depends on my mood and my style, which change quite a lot. Recently I've been going for really dark, sultry colours, the sort that leave an impression, basically. I really like Estée Lauder's and Smashbox's lipsticks—they come out just as bright as they look in the bullet.
Who has taught you the most about beauty?
I know it sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it was definitely my mum. She is so stylish, and no matter what, she always looks good. As I was growing up, if I wanted to cut my hair, she'd help me. If I wanted to make some new clothes, she'd make them for me. She's so creative, and so really it all came from my mum.
How does your culture affect your beauty aesthetic?
I am quite spiritual and from a religious family. It's a difficult question because religiously speaking, there's a lot of debate around how much I should or shouldn't be wearing makeup. Within modesty, they say you shouldn't wear too much makeup, as it makes you more attractive.
But for me, it depends on the environment you live in. If everyone wears makeup and everyone dresses a certain way, then really what I'm doing doesn't make me stand out any more than that. When it comes to my makeup and what I wear on my face, I don't think about it too much. I just do my makeup to what feels right to me; it's more the way that I dress that is maybe a little bit affected because I do believe in following my religion and everything that means.
My culture has also given me my love of henna. I'm from Sudanese heritage, and culturally, in Sudan, it's typical for a married woman to always have henna on. I'm not married, but for occasions, or when I feel like it, I like having henna on—it's just cute. It's not because I want to be seen as a married woman. I just like it.
What does the term beautiful mean to you?
To me, beauty isn't necessarily something you see. It's something you feel. There is a particular beauty standard in society that everybody agrees to, but I think finally that standard is becoming more varied, and there's more to it than just looking a certain way. Beauty isn't just one factor. It's more about the whole package. Well, that's how I see it anyway.
Would you like to hear more about the beauty identity of someone you admire? DM us @byrdiebeauty.uk, and we'll do the asking for you!