In 2018, during their first trip as a married couple to Jordan and Turkey, Deemah Belal and Sinan Aladdin indulged in the age-old tradition of visiting a Turkish bath or hammam. Hammams are common across the Middle East and consist of cleansing practices such as exfoliating scrubs or mud wraps to remove dead skin from the body. Though most people who walk out of a hammam leave relaxed and with softer skin, Belala and Aladdin left with something a bit more.
“When we did the hammam, we felt so good after doing it that we were inspired,” Aladdin explains.
This moment of inspiration turned into Saaf Body, a skincare line that utilizes natural ingredients that revitalize, replenish and rejuvenate the skin. Saaf, which means pure in Arabic and Turkish, started as a small endeavor Belal and Aladdin kept within their circle of friends and family. They would gift their loved ones with soaps they brought back from Turkey and soon realized the need for skincare with natural ingredients.
Belal has always referred to herself as a “skincare enthusiast,” and Saaf Body allows her to combine her love of skincare, her culture and clean ingredients into one. “We want to elevate Middle Eastern skincare and Middle Eastern beauty,” she said. With Saaf Body, Belal and her husband are taking generations of tradition and making it accessible for all.
“We learned that so many of the skin care practices that we have now originated from the Middle East,” Aladdin said. The process of exfoliation started with Egyptians, and incorporating herbs in skincare dates back to the Arabian Empire. These processes became an integral part of daily hygiene in the Middle East and eventually spread throughout the world. With Saaf Body, the couple hopes to make their grandparents proud while celebrating and acknowledging their culture. Aladdin feels that skincare in the Middle East doesn’t get the credit it deserves. With their business, they get to “tell the untold story,” he said.
The Saaf Body line consists of soaps, oils and toners. The soaps are drastically different from those you’ll find on the shelf in a local retailer. Among them are Camel Milk Soap and Donkey Milk Soap, known for their therapeutic properties for skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. Facial products such as their Damascus Rose Facial Toner are made without parabens, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phthalates and dyes. The toner’s anti-inflammatory properties soothe the skin while maintaining its pH balance. Saaf Body also sells a “kese,” a scrubbing mitt used on the body, catering to the exfoliation process in a hammam. According to the couple, a “kese” helps with hyperpigmentation, breakouts and skin circulation.
Belal and Aladdin’s vision for Saaf Body extends beyond financial and business aspirations. They also hold a deep reverence for their Middle Eastern roots and hope to continue growing the brand while staying true to these values.
“It’s a lot of storytelling and a lot of history,” Belal said. “It’s something he and I are really proud of, and we always say people enjoy different cultures through food. And for us, we’re taking it in a different direction where it’s skincare,” she adds.
Saaf Body is available for purchase here.