A new beauty platform has just launched in the UAE, and you could say there’s a secretive aspect to it.
Say hello to Secret Skin, a new beauty e-commerce platform founded by Anisha Oberoi. Focusing on clean beauty, the building of the Secret Skin is extremely personal to Oberoi.
Having survived an aggressive form of breast cancer 10 years ago, Oberoi was left feeling deflated and with severe low self-esteem due to the “toxic medication” she had to have.
“I had lost my lashes and my hair; my skin was burnt as a result of chemotherapy and radiation,” she tells Emirates Woman. “I was put on hormone treatments after surgery and I began to feel quite desperate at not being able to find clean, chemical-free alternatives to beauty products widely available to consumers.”
During her research, Oberoi learned more and more about hormone disruptors and carcinogens in your everyday personal care products. Oberoi eventually relocated to the UAE ready to focus on her corporate career, but admits “something was missing”.
“I wanted to give back to the community and the only way was to jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship,” she says. “Secret Skin is my platform to channel this ethos and authentically work towards making the world more aware about the importance of mindful living.”
Delving further into the story behind Secret Skin, EW sat down with Oberoi to find out what clean beauty really is, what her message to women is during Breast Cancer Awareness month and more.
‘Clean beauty’ is a phrase that gets used a lot, but how do we know we’re making the right choice?
Research your chosen brands and their composition well before you purchase. Clean brands maintain high standards of product integrity, use organic or natural ethically-sourced ingredients, are cruelty-free with sustainability practices across the flywheel of sourcing, packaging and shipping. But even clean beauty products can cause sensitivity and allergy. Avoiding products with synthetic ingredients and preservatives is a good philosophy, but do responsibly research ingredients in natural products, by carefully considering each for its own merit before you commit.
Talk us through how you chose brands for Secret Skin?
It was an elegant hustle through Instagram to curate the assortment I would say, given that the pandemic had struck in waves across the world and social distancing had become the norm! I researched global brands in the clean beauty space – many of which I had started to use myself in my quest to make the switch in the last few years. I read up on their underlying philosophies and product lines, how transparent they were about their sustainability processes, ingredients and claims, their press coverage. Etc. I then connected with the Founders on LinkedIn or IG and set up zoom meetings to present my vision in the hope that they would partner, if the synergies were aligned. It was a steep learning curve but quite rewarding in the richness of experience. We signed on more brands every month with the same approach but it got easier as the portfolio increased with marquee brands trusting us to introduce them to the Middle East.
Which brands are you using on repeat?
I started my clean journey with Purearth, an Indian brand which I would say is my north star. I use a lot of products from their line. Others are Mauli and Ranavat that are rooted in Ayurvedic formulations; Amly that prioritizes potent botanics and minerals; and the hand-blended Serums from Kathryn Jones.
How has your background help shape the platform?
After my MBA from INSEAD, I worked at Amazon for almost five years launching Fashion and Beauty categories in India & Australia, and then briefly with Bloomingdales in this region. Prior to that I have worked with luxury brands on their GTM strategies across geographies, so I have a global yet immersive understanding of these industries that I can leverage now. My experience at Amazon I would say is instrumental in defining how we have built Secret Skin from inception, and the values that we imbibe as a team: a business has to be agile, nimble, quick to pivot, fast to fail and to scale. The culture has to be one of ownership and customer obsession, to have a consistent ‘Day 1’ mentality. My familiarity with e-commerce operations, the ability to sort product selection, understanding of digital marketing tools and levers, the data-centricity in decision-making etc informs the blueprint of our enterprise; while the high bar on quality of visual aesthetic and love for beauty allows us to create captivating content to engage our customer. I feel quite empowered by my learning from the past, and confident that we will be able to create customer trust, as a new entrant.
How has your experience with breast cancer altered your approach to beauty?
Beauty is not just skin-deep. Who you are inside despite all the trials and tribulations; the strength of purpose that you carry despite the adversities and the struggles – now that is true beauty. I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to this perspective. The mental narrative has to shift to be able to move forward into your new life. For me, beauty is more holistic now than just the result of a good skincare routine. I believe in the power of meditation, exercise and nutrition that generates a sense of peace and wellbeing, hence fortifying my confidence. I am no longer addicted to looking like society’s version of what Beauty should be. Glad to see that even that is changing, globally.
With this being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what is your message to women?
Take control of your own health and wellness, and get to know your body so well that you can detect any abnormalities, early. Being diagnosed is a wake-up call. You’re forced to stop in your tracks and re-evaluate the way you live your life, both on the outside as well as on the inside. The only way you’re going to survive it is to face your fear head-on. Prioritize yourself over your work, or any external influence that stands between you and your recovery. Have goals, have dreams. And fight to stay alive so that you can achieve them.
What can we do to raise further awareness?
Be mindful. Mindful of what you eat, what you put on your skin that’s being absorbed by your blood-stream and how you live your life. Early detection is key so get more familiar with your bodies: do self-exams, get regular Pap smears and don’t miss your mammograms. Teach young girls and boys how to be more vigilant. Also teach them empathy, and how to care for those who are sick.
Visit thesecretskin.com now.
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