How Basma Hameed Turned Her Scar Camouflage Clinic Into a Beauty Brand

Fashion
Photography via instagram.com/basmabeautyofficial

She counts celebs like Jordyn Woods as fans.

Basma Hameed is a scar camouflage and micro-pigmentation specialist who has worked with celebrities like Jordyn Woods, Anastasia Karanikolaou and more. After a burn accident when she was two years old left her with a large scar on her face, she became deeply invested, for personal reasons, in the world of scar camouflaging and paramedical tattooing. Eventually, her research in medical aesthetics (as well as tons of trial and error at home) prompted her to open the Basma Hameed Scar Camouflage Clinic in Toronto, and later open a second location in Beverly Hills.

Today, Hameed unveils Basma Beauty, a new brand whose first product is a buildable foundation stick that comes in 40 shades. “The Foundation Stick is suitable for all skin types and everyday use,” says Hameed. “It’s an ultra-hydrating, creamy formula with lots of feel-good ingredients like aloe vera extract, apricot butter and vitamin E. The best way to describe [the texture] is butter — it just melts into your skin leaving this flawless, satin-like finish.”

We chatted with Hameed on Basma Beauty’s launch day to learn how she became the celeb-favourite scar camouflage expert.

What led you to the concept behind Basma Beauty?

“It was a lifelong dream of mine. When I was two years old, I burned half my face in a kitchen accident. Despite countless surgeries, doctors were unable to conceal the bright red scar that spanned my face. As a result, I started wearing makeup at an early age. My relationship with makeup first started out of necessity, but quickly bloomed into a passion. I was obsessed with colours, undertones, ingredients, and the chemistry behind makeup formulas.

“Makeup played a very important role in my life growing up. It helped me feel confident on the days I didn’t feel my best. My childhood was anything but normal, but putting on makeup made me feel less like ‘the girl with the burn,’ and more like a regular, high school student. But there were always things that bothered me about the beauty industry. I remember when I used to ask for help when buying makeup, I’d immediately be pigeon-holed into the “scar-friendly” category. The options were extremely scarce and everything felt thick and cake-y on my face.

“I also felt like I couldn’t relate to any beauty brand. I never saw myself — or anyone I knew, for that matter — in the images and ads for beauty companies. It was always these impossibly ‘perfect’ girls. In 2018, I was finally able to bring my dream of developing a beauty brand to life. Basma Beauty truly is a brand for everyone — no matter your skin type, skin tone or undertone. We develop versatile, truly buildable and portable formulas that fit into your lifestyle.”

You’ve said that at 17 you started experimenting with different dermal techniques to mitigate the discolouration of your skin. What worked and what didn’t?

“I tried everything to reduce the discolouration of my scar — from lasers to surgery to creams — but nothing worked. At the time, permanent makeup was slowly becoming popular and I had a thought: If colour could be implanted in the skin to mimic makeup, why couldn’t the colour of my skin be implanted in my scar? I presented the idea to every doctor, but each one told me it was impossible. They said scar tissue wouldn’t hold the colour and I’d be wasting my time. I had nothing to lose at that point, so I decided to test my theory.

“One night, I developed a pigment that matched my skin tone, looked in the mirror and implanted it over my scar. The results were remarkable! I kept practicing on myself and learned a lot about colour correcting along the way. And although perfecting the procedure took a while, the results kept getting better and better each time I tried. Eventually, I got to a point where I was very confident in not only how my scar appeared, but also how to perform the procedure itself. That gave way to the opening of my first clinic.”

Had you been in school for medical aesthetics and planning to go down that path already?

“I am an entrepreneur at heart. I’ve always loved to create and bring new ideas to life. After I saw the results of the Scar Camouflage treatment on myself, I knew I wanted to use it to help others who, like me, struggled with scars and their skin. I opened my first clinic in Toronto and once the demand grew internationally, I opened my second location in Beverly Hills.

“Although I had studied Medical Aesthetics prior to opening the clinics, the best training I’ve had is from my life experience. Because of my accident, I had to learn so much about skin and how to treat it. Also, a procedure like the one I developed never existed, so being able to work on myself and study the results each step of the way was very beneficial.”

You work with a lot of celebrities at your clinic. How did that happen?

“I was really fortunate that my story went viral. I was featured on CNN, Vogue, Cosmo, CBC, The Doctors and more. It was crazy! From that point on, word quickly spread about the effectiveness of the procedure I’d developed. I noticed a lot more high-profile clients coming in after all the media attention and of course, opening a clinic in Beverly Hills just made the procedure much more accessible to them.”

What was the process of developing the Basma Beauty foundation stick like?

“It took over three years to develop The Foundation Stick for Basma Beauty. It truly was a labour of love. We developed the formula from scratch because I had a very specific vision: I wanted the formula to be ultra-hydrating and easy to apply, like a tinted moisturizer, but have buildable coverage to match a liquid foundation. It took 15 iterations over the span of one year to get the formula just right. I’d use my skin as the baseline — if I couldn’t wear it myself, we’d go back to the drawing board.

“Once we created the formula itself, the real challenge started: developing custom shades. From the onset of this project, we were committed to having 40 shades. I always felt like there was a gap in the shades available for foundation formats other than liquid foundations — whether it’s pressed powder, stick foundations or tinted moisturizers. We are proud to be one of the few stick foundations on the market that offer 40 shades! This shade development process took another year.

“And then just as we were about to start production, the pandemic hit. We were essentially at a standstill. This was a really tough time because we were so close to the finish line but had to stop everything. In hindsight, it taught us the importance of being able to adapt to whatever circumstance or scenario is in front of us. The pandemic not only changed the role beauty and makeup played in the people’s daily lives, but also how we shop. We used that time to bolster our website and focus on developing features and content aimed at helping people buy foundation online — without ever trying on the makeup. Being flexible in how we operate is a fundamental part of how I now conduct business.”

What has your personal experience with using makeup to empower yourself vs. using makeup to hide been like?

“I am a firm believer that you should do what makes you happy — period. We’re all different and makeup is extremely personal. So I guess the question is: Why does it matter how or why one chooses to wear it?

“I remember wearing a full face of makeup to school everyday and getting asked why I wear so much makeup. Whether or not it came from a place of genuine curiosity, there were always judgemental undertones. From the outside, people just saw the makeup itself. But what they didn’t see was the emotional and physical pain stemming from my scar. It’s really hard to know where someone else is coming from, and to know their traumas or their insecurities. That’s why I think it’s irrelevant if I — or anyone else — wears makeup to hide or empower.

“My experience has taught me the importance of being unapologetically true to yourself. And that’s what this brand is all about. It doesn’t matter how much or how little makeup you wear. Beauty on your own terms!”

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