There are plenty of things that make Bahrain-based wellness start-up Omni unique. First of all, unlike many of the new wellbeing launches of late, they’re not backed by a huge corporation - all the products are researched, developed, hand made, tested and packaged in their own little workshop in Bahrain by husband and wife duo, Jenan Alhashil, a lawyer and Yusuf Buhijiand, an engineer, who work full-time jobs already. Jenan says, “the brand symbolises both of us doing something we really care about, it brings our worlds together – the connection of art, science and luxury and even though we officially just launched, the products were years in the making.”
‘Skin’ is something the couple both struggled with when growing up. Yusuf on Roaccutane for acne and Jenan admitting, “I’ve always suffered from bad skin; issues of dryness, sensitivity and break-outs, but I never wanted medication. I saw countless dermatologists, and nobody would explain the root cause.”
It turns out she was severely sensitive to synthetic fragrance, which, according to scientific research, is on the rise and affecting more the 2 million people in the United States alone. Jenan avoided all synthetics and the symptoms disappeared and her skin normalised. She says, “I wish more people were informed about ingredients; both the stuff we put inside, and onto our bodies. We have so much faith in dermatologist-approved ranges, but sometimes the most simple skin care is the most effective.” So she decided to put all her research to good use and developed skincare that she would personally use, and made small batches of products for family and friends; saying, “I’m pleased to say they were hooked and kept coming back for more!”
Natural is something that echoes through the entire range. There are no nasties, no unnecessary preservatives; everything is wholesome and sourced from the earth. It comes in minimal packaging, you can get refills, the boxes and bags are recycled card and paper and all the products are housed in glass bottles. “We are looking for a non-plastic alternative for the lids,” but until a replacement is found, you can return them and Omni will recycle those too.
“We have also never tested on animals – only on our friends and family,” laughs Jenan. “I love natural products – I used to keep breakfast oatmeal in my bathroom, and friends questioned why! But it’s actually a natural antibiotic and I knew this calmed my skin, so that’s when the ‘Oats + Rice’ Cleansing Grains was born. Owing to oat’s saponin content and brown rice’s selenium, both agents act to reduce redness and irritation with their anti-inflammatory properties as well as upping the moisture levels, while also gently exfoliating at the same time. Plus the inclusion of clay stimulates circulation and the product can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator and if you have more time, a mask – it’s the ultimate multi-tasker.”
Jenan spent two years testing the ‘Nox’ oil. Nox in Latin means night and it’s also a spell in Harry Potter, (Jenan is a fan), and the blue-tinted concoction certainly weaves some magic with potent anti-inflammatory agents that reduces redness and calms skin in an instant. She uses a “few drops at night”, or says they are the perfect remedy when “dabbed onto cooking burns or curling iron injuries”.
Omni also has embraced the ancient Chinese ritual of face rollering and offers a Jade or Rose Quartz version; but Jenan states quite firmly, “do not choose on the colour alone, you have to buy according to your skincare needs. Jade is a naturally cold stone, and gets rid of puffiness (like no eye cream can), while the Rose Quartz is good for boosting blood circulation and symbolises self-love and self-care.” Something in our techie-focused, fast pace world we should all be embracing. Jenan confides about her own struggles with mental health issues and has been afflicted with bouts of “anxiety”. It’s hard to imagine when somebody is so successful and beautiful. But she says, “There were times when I didn’t want to leave the house. However, I would make myself go and chat about the brand, and the feelings would dissipate once I opened up and talked skincare and people saw the passion and believed in me. The word ‘Omni’ is of Latin origin and translates to: ‘of all things, in all ways; bringing everything together’. Omni really saved me - and I hope it can help others too - in any way which way that it can.”