Behind the scenes with Saudi's first supermodel

Selfie secrets, vegan beauty and how Saudi’s first-ever model became the face of a global brand
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Behind the scenes with Saudi's first supermodel

In the past year there’s been a fundamental movement in how the fashion and beauty industries have approached diversity and stereotypes. Long gone are the days where you couldn’t find the foundation for your skin tone, and we couldn’t be happier with this change in stride. And now it seems even more barriers have been broken, with global beauty brand Kat Von D asking Saudi-born Model Roz to be the face of the new campaign for the True Portrait foundation. Grazia meets her to find out more…

How would you describe the beauty scene in Saudi Arabia?
It’s huge! Make-up is very important to women in my home country, and now brands seem to understand that it’s a big market. While Saudi women love a full face of make-up and like to go heavy on the eyes, I’ve recently noticed they are more open to the less-is-more trend and are embracing the no-make-up make-up concept. I’m seeing ladies trying green and blue lipstick and really experimenting with beauty – it’s really interesting to see the market opening up. Over the years I’ve also noticed there’s a keen interest in make-up artistry and there’s some great talent in the country. 

We love your Instagram! How did you first get into make-up, and what do you love most about it?
As a little girl growing up in KSA, I always wanted to be a fashion and beauty model. I moved to LA, where I signed my first contract, and it’s been a dream since. I have always loved make-up and all things beauty – it gives me a certain confidence that makes me feel happy. There’s so much you can do with make-up, and I love how even just one product can change my entire look. 

What are your thoughts on diversity in the beauty industry?
There’s been a huge shift in the last year or so, where brands have become more conscious of cultural appropriation. Brands are definitely getting more inclusive in their messaging; there is still more work to do, but I’m happy it’s going in the right direction. 

What’s been your experience of being an Arab model in the beauty industry?
As you can imagine, it was definitely not easy when I started. I was the first-ever model from Saudi Arabia, which meant there were lots of barriers, whether it was cultural norms or an industry that simply didn’t exist. Today I am proud of the sweeping changes that are happening in Saudi Arabia and in the region, to be more accepting. It makes me happy to see other women in our country expressing themselves on social media.

What do you love about the new Kat Von D True Portrait foundation?
It contains everything you can find in a great foundation – coverage that is neither too light or heavy, but buildable from medium to full; a self-setting liquid-to-powder finish so you don’t need to put on an extra layer of make-up; an exclusive elastic essence effect that doesn’t settle in to fine lines – which for me is a dream! – as well as 40 shades to suit every single skin tone. And the best part is that the product is 100 per cent vegan and cruelty-free.

Is vegan beauty important to you?
Admittedly, I’m not vegan myself, but I have a strong respect for brands that are vegan and I’m always so impressed with how much effort and time goes into making a beauty product with the perfect vegan ingredients. It is very difficult to be 100 per cent vegan as well as get everything else you imagine – from textures to shades. 

What are your top foundation tricks?  
Firstly, always use a foundation shade with the right undertones for your skin. You can figure out the perfect foundation shade with multiple swipe tests first. You also need to ensure you are using the right brush or sponge to blend it all out, but the key to getting it right is not using too much make-up. If you want a heavy look, layer your make-up but never apply too much in one go as it can end up looking cakey. If you have a long day ahead of you, you can add an extra layer of primer under your make-up, as primers protect your skin and help your make-up last much longer.

Why do you think Kat Von D chose you to be the face of its campaign in the Middle East? 
I think I embody a lot of what the brand represents – I’m someone who is bold yet feminine, dares to take risks and is not afraid to express myself. It made perfect sense! It was also a great move for the brand to localise the message in the GCC.

What’s your favourite thing about working with the brand?
I am an animal lover and I don’t tolerate animal testing of any sort. Kat Von D Beauty is not only an incredible brand with great formulas and textures, but also a brand that shares the same passion as me towards cruelty-free and vegan beauty, so this partnership has been a dream.

Your skin always has an incredible glow. Can you share your tips with us?
Balance is key when it comes to keeping your skin clear. Follow a good cleansing routine but don’t just strip your skin of oils after cleansing without replacing them with all the nutrients it needs. Always use a mask or toner to help clean out pores and then follow it up with a moisturiser to replenish any hydration your skin is still craving. And never forget your SPF – the sun can do more damage to your skin than you can imagine.

What’s your make-up signature?
Simple yet elegant with a classic warm eye and a subtle nude lip, with a little bit of highlight on the cheekbone. Oh, and perfectly groomed brows make a big difference in framing my face. 

What are your everyday beauty essentials?
A natural-looking foundation, some great mascara and a nude lipstick. The Go Big Or Go Home Mascara from Kat Von D is amazing, and the Lolita Lipstick is my go-to. I also always like to carry some blush or highlighter in my make-up bag to add a pop of colour and glow.

If you could raid anyone’s bathroom shelves, whose would it be?
To be honest, I have everything I need. I like to stick to the essentials – mascara, eyeliner and a good foundation. Kat Von D Beauty answers all of my needs. 

Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I have the biggest girl crush on Scarlett Johansson. I feel my story hasn’t even begun, so I’d hope for her to play my role someday. 

Lastly, when taking a selfie, what’s your secret to flawless #nofilter skin?
The secret to taking the perfect selfie is having the right angle and using natural light – the sun is my best friend when I’m in selfie mode.

Photos: Supplied