GT talks to banker-turned-beautician

What is your favourite kind of makeup, party or bridal?

Frankly, I would prefer to do fashion shoots. I like very creative makeup, I don’t like to do very generic makeup. Brides are so tense and stressed out when they come to me. I just want to make them feel beautiful inside out. My concentration is always on making them feel at ease. With each step I try to relax them, ask them if they think the makeup is alright. I don’t impose my choices on the brides, but I do my research, so I can strike a balance between what the bride wants and something that is simultaneously creative. And I never compromise on products: I only use the best, regardless of whether it’s party makeup or bridal or daytime.

If you had a chance to do any one persons’ makeup from anytime and anywhere, who would it be and why?

I am planning something with the brides of the Edhi Centre where I go in, take my girls and do the makeup and the hair using my best products. That’s something that I feel really good about doing it. Just to make them feel special and giddy.

Aamina Sheikh is someone whose makeup I would love to do. She has a very strong makeup face and beautiful features.

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“Aamina Sheikh is someone whose makeup I would
love to do”

What do clients take back with them after leaving your salon?

Every customer leaves here satisfied, that is the best thing. Especially people with short hair who cannot imagine having any kind of hairdo other than the basic blow-dry, I have done some spectacular hairdos for them!

You made the switch from banker to beautician. How and why did you decide to do so?

I had been working for HSBC in Pakistan for 25 years. My entire life had been spent servicing the consumer market, selling products of the bank. This has helped me a lot with making people comfortable coming to me and for me to understand what it is that they are looking for. When HSBC was getting ready to pack up from Pakistan, I was looking for jobs. Sherezad Rahimtoola was instrumental in guiding me. She runs an institute called Pivot Point, and I enrolled there, took the training for makeup, hair designing and hair sculpture. She very strongly recommended I do something — that I have an entrepreneurial spirit and this is what motivated me to take the initiative. I’m also getting trained at L’Oreal which is super!

Are there any upcoming products that you strongly recommend?

All women who get regular styling done, their hair part starts to widen, so we use Serioxyl which activates our dormant hair follicles to regrow the hair and tighten the part. I also offer Botox facials which regenerate your skin and fill in your lines. No injections, just facials. We massage the Botox in with collagen and each facial will gradually and surely reduce your wrinkles: hey, I’m doing them myself!

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“I yearn to change the way people, especially women, feel about themselves”

What’s your makeup regime?

I wear different makeup everyday. I wear my hair differently everyday for my clients, I’m very conscious of that. I was always a trendsetter, even at the bank. If I had a certain hairstyle, everyone would follow and start emulating me!

What‘s your take on the fashion industry and styling in Pakistan?

Styling and fashion has done really well. You must have heard of the oft-repeated line that despite all the violence, the fashion shows never stop. In the world of makeup and styling, until very recently, there was very little awareness. I yearn to change the way people, especially women, feel about themselves. I want to change their confidence levels, their attitude and their skin and hair care regimes. And I always tell women who try to look good for any other reason but themselves that it’s not just for your husbands, it’s for yourself — for you to feel and look good for yourself is enough. Luckily, in Pakistan, everybody in this fraternity — be it makeup, fashion, styling, skin care, hair care — compliments the other. There is competition and therefore rapid creativity. It’s been fun to see it grow from the 80s and 90s — when makeup was like a small family dominated by two or three big names like Tariq Amin and Ather Shahzad — to a highly slick, competitive market now.

Photography | Arsalan Bilgrami

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