The Saudi Wedding Make-Up Masquerade

My first experience with Saudi (Khaleeji) wedding makeup-styles was when a Saudi colleague at the hospital showed me her wedding picture album. My jaw nearly dropped! WHOA! I would never had guessed that this normally so modest, niqab-wearing, natural beauty who never wore make-up to work would go for the extreme “Arabic” makeup style.


Her make-up was so over done that it was hard to understand what had been going on in the makeup artists’ head. Some sort of psychedelic eyeshadow-rainbow-show was happening on the eyelids; orange, blue, green, yellow, neon pink and bright red were all combined in random order and topped with glitter.ohlordy
A set of large crystals were plastered around her eyebrows, which were painted so dark and thick they looked more like caterpillars on steroids than brows.

All this makeup was topped off with giganourmous fake eyelashes, and to match the eyes, super bright fuchsia colored-lips. The bride’s skin was covered in layer after layer of foundation as white as the snow. Her natural beauty had sadly been drowned somewhere deep under this mask.


Fair, white skin is an obsession in Saudi Arabia as it is in many other parts of the world and sadly many young women go to extremes to whiten their skin for weddings. Read the tragic fate of this teenage Saudi bride, who just wanted to be ‘fair and lovely’ on her wedding day.



I told the bride how beautiful she looked because I didn’t want to offend her, but to this day I’ve never understood the need for so much make-up! Less is more, anyone? I get that Saudi women want to go all out for weddings and while some Arabic and Khaleeji makeup styles are actually quite beautiful, most of the ones I’ve seen at weddings have been way over the top.


I will always remember my first experience of a wedding done in Saudi style. The heavy make up and fashion sense (or lack thereof?) of some of the women in attendance was shocking. Think Batman characters, Reneissance, 80’s-style, and Star Trek all combined and miss-matched. It felt more like a carnival or a masquerade.


I usually don’t wear much make-up, except for special occasions. That particular evening however, I’d applied extra dark eye shadow and a thick layer of eyeliner, thinking I had a lot more makeup on then I would normally be comfortable with, or so I thought. It turned out that apparently my perception of “a lot” does not conform with the Saudi view.

Some women actually came up to me asking “Don’t you have eyeliner or mascara on?” WTH? Of course I had eyeliner and mascara, duh. But I hadn’t smudged my entire eyes with it! Also, blue eyes combined with blonde lashes and brows just never look as great as dark hair and brown eyes do with heavier make-up. If I were to put that much make-up on, it would just end up looking very trashy and cheap.

So I heard “Tsk, tsk tsk. Unacceptable, she has to put more make-up on!”
“Doesn’t your husband want you to wear eyeliner?” was the next question. Ummm..I don’t know? What does that have to do with me being here, in an all-female setting anyways?


There’s another big Saudi wedding coming up so I’ve been searching online to check out some nice Arabic style make-up I could try this time. Click here to read about the Saudi Wedding Extravaganza.
While browsing the net I came across some very beautiful Gulf makeup styles, but boy, some of the stuff that’s out there is just…wow. Take a look at some of the looks I found:
 Poison Ivy-look. What is up with the eyebrows, how did they move to the middle of her forehead?? Inspired by Mr. Spock perhaps?
 Herpes-look. Enough said.
Raccoon-look. Isn’t the point to try and make the eyes seem bigger and more far apart than all lumped together like a mask?
 Peacock-look. I wonder if it comes with a bunch of peacock feathers attached to your butt?
 Dear Lord help me-look. Help me look into the mirror and realize I look like a drag queen before I leave the house.

Mix and match miss-matched colors-look. The more colors you are able to splash on your face, the better.

 Boy George-look. Is he an Arab Idol?
The angry owl-look. Reminds me of this bird we have in Finland called huuhkaja:
Star Trek-look. Beads on your forehead make you look like an alien, period.
The 80’s-look. Gotcha! Did you even notice the image above is not even a woman, but in fact Boy George?
 Hypnosis-look. Ok colored contacts can be nice if they’re subtle, but this is creepy!..And don’t get me started on the lip liner!
 Spider-look. Everything about the look reminds me of spiders, spiderwebs and beehives and other creepy crawlers.
Face painting-look. Yeah, face paintings were fun when we were like 5 years old.
Measles-look. The only place where studs look good is on your bag. Or shoes. Maybe jeans. But for the love of God, don’t put them on your face!


I think I shall pass on this fabulousness!

I wish some of these women who cover their beauty under the paint would understand how beautiful they are without the tons of make up. Most Saudi women are naturally extremely beautiful and that could be enhanced even further with the right make up but often unfortunately the results are a clown-look that’s far from beautiful IMHO.

I like this look for myself, the light pink lips with the smokey eyes. I might have to add color to the brows for a more Arab style.

I bet if I do something like this I will be just a wall flower and nobody will even notice my presence :)

What do you think? Which Arabic make-up look is your favorite?

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Hello there, I'm Laura, the author of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. I've been traveling around and exploring Saudi Arabia since 2008. Connect with me on social media with the links below!
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  • RobynFebruary 9, 2012 - 3:35 am

    seriously over the top isn’t it.the lebanese ladies also seem to go in for this look…ReplyCancel

    • wwk5dJune 20, 2015 - 12:13 am

      No, they don’t. Not really.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 9, 2012 - 3:44 am

    Robyn-Yes it’s a widespread phenomenon in the ME. Lebanese women often look even creepier because of all the facial plastic surgery and the botox they pumped in their lips.ReplyCancel

  • AngelFebruary 9, 2012 - 4:34 am

    haha i so agree with you, I had the same experience seeing wedding picture and i was like WHAT THE!!! and then they tell me it is them and Im like ohh ok you look beautiful but really in my head I am like what is with the make up??ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1February 9, 2012 - 5:00 am

    I like the saying less is more. Not a real fan of the clown look. Is it me or are a lot of Saudi women really shallow and extremely vain.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 9:37 pm

      Bigstick-I would say some are, because of the life style here their lives start evolving more and more around looks. Some Saudi women only care about shopping, the latest fashion and make-up, shoes, bags.. That's their life. Sadly that can easily happen here because of the lack of freedom of movement (only option for some is go to shopping malls) and because of the emphasis of the woman'sReplyCancel

    • Naive ObserverOctober 21, 2012 - 7:10 pm

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

    • Umm GamarNovember 9, 2012 - 2:51 am

      Salam Laylah, how are you? I just want to kindly point out that the comment left by the Naive Observer goes not only against your hate policy but it is perfectly disgusting to accuse the most noblest man, our Prophet (peace be upon him) as a rapist and pedophile and to accuse our Umm Mukmin as an evil lady is travesty. Please admonish this person or simply delete the comment (please screen these kind of comments as we Muslims should honor our prophet) , as you are the blog owner thus have full control of what goes on your blog. Thank you and may Allah bless your efforts.

      P/s-freedom of speech does not include hate speech.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahNovember 9, 2012 - 8:45 pm

      I had not noticed that comment before, thanks for the pointer, you’re absolutely right!ReplyCancel

  • JHENNIEFebruary 9, 2012 - 5:28 am


    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 9:39 pm

      JHENNIE- What I've understood is most husband's don't really care for this look. For example my husband hates it! He always tells his sisters they look like clowns to stop putting so much paint on for weddings :)ReplyCancel

  • AlejandraFebruary 9, 2012 - 6:34 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • AlejandraFebruary 9, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Boy George looks more like a woman than some of the ones in those pictures, I’m SURE that a few of those are trannies…ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 9:38 pm

      Alejandra- He does look feminine in that pic, I had to look twice myself!ReplyCancel

  • FarooqFebruary 9, 2012 - 7:51 am

    Since most Saudi men see their wives only after getting married, it would be interesting to note their reactions on seeing such made up faces.

    Money spent on wedding make up: So many thousand riyals
    Shocked look on husband’s face when he sees you for the first time: Priceless

    Personally speaking, I do not think I would meet any of the made up ladies above in a dark alley without shouting out, “The aliens are coming” But that is just me.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 9:52 pm

      Farooq-Well most Saudi men have only seen their wives once or twice before the actual wedding. Usually in the girls home, with her wearing some make-up, but nothing like this :)
      So my guess is when he arrives at the wedding and sees the bride looking like the above women he will either a) run for his life or b) faint on the spot.ReplyCancel

  • IldiFebruary 9, 2012 - 9:20 am

    Dear Laylah,
    February= season of carnival :))

    these words came to my mind: ugly, extreme, rousing. The base touch could be good start but less is more. Why do Saudi women show more as they have? That would be nicer, prettier, stunning-full if they enhance the beauty they have not they haven't. At some pics I felt they were taken by club for transex people. Do they want toReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:01 pm

      Ildi-I guess weddings are the time when Saudi women get to "shine" so they really think putting lots of makeup makes them stand out!ReplyCancel

  • AliceFebruary 9, 2012 - 10:08 am

    herpes look – LOL!

    You've found some of the ugliest pics, no doubt! I don't like crystals on the face, I don't like shaved and later tattooed or painted eye-brows.

    But generally I like khaleeji make up and respect it (when it's not like on the pics in this post) Many khaleeji women wear rather moderate make up to weddings or no make up (older women). If theyReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:05 pm

      Alice-yes some arab women do the less is more look and they do look stunning! Arabs have such beautiful dark eyes and if they manage to bring them out in less dramatic styles it looks very attractive,but still a very heavy make-up for what westerners are used to.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 9, 2012 - 10:21 am

    These are just scary, I found some nice arabic make-up tutorials, which was just a smoky eye, but in a different colour,and light pink lips,she looked normal. I did not think girls actually wore make make-up like in these pictures, but this was just the exagerated magazine version of realty.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousFebruary 9, 2012 - 10:46 am

      I studied at a make-up artist school in Finland. These look like fantasy make-ups or even bodypainting. One day at school we were practising wedding make-ups. There was one guy from Middle East region studying in our class. While he was making a wedding make-up on a model, our teacher passed by saying "Ali! She is a bride, not a christmas tree!" :))


    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:13 pm

      Maria-Thanks for sharing how funny! Where was the guy from, and I’m also interested how he ended up in make-up artists school in Finland lol! Perhaps males can’t apply to make-up schools in ME?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousFebruary 15, 2012 - 10:40 am

      Yeah, it was funny I still remember that after years :) He was living in Finland but originally from ME and his background seemeed to affect to his idea of what is beautiful. I think women with too much make-up seem somehow difficult to approach and certainly look older than their age, I would prefer to see the real person instead of a thick make-up mask.


  • HeatherFebruary 9, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    I know beauty and taste vary from culture to culture, but I really have a hard time understanding how ANYONE would think this looks sexy or appealing in any way. Arab women are beautiful without the clown makeup.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 11, 2012 - 12:31 am

      Heather-I agree, especially Saudi women are extremely beautiful without any make-up!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 9, 2012 - 4:18 pm

    lol, the more eyeshadow and color they add, the higher the eyebrows go :pReplyCancel

  • karimakeneFebruary 9, 2012 - 7:29 pm

    hahahaha u know before i lived in Egypt and there i saw too wedding make ups and OMG was my first thinking … its awful and if i be honest some one make up was like russian street girls who ….. u know what i mean … i still dont understand why arab woman they make their face white as snow ??? its not normal and eyebrows are so small and so much cuted aven they know its haram …omg omgReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 11, 2012 - 12:33 am

      karimakene-I don’t get the eyebrow thing as well, since most Muslim women here view plucking and shaping of eyebrows as haram.
      They think white equals beauty..It’s a cultural thing I guess!ReplyCancel

  • Marokon morsianFebruary 9, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    olipahan hupaisa postaus, nauroin täällä itsekseni sekä kuville että mainioille kuvateksteillesi. Boy George oli todellakin monen mallin rinnalla jopa ihan jees ;)

    Muistui kyllä etäisesti mieleeni omat häät Marokossa muutama vuosi sitten; mut vietiin kauneussalonkiin tällättäväksi ja missään vaiheessa minulta ei kysytty mielipidettä ei meikin eikä kampauksen suhteen…ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:11 pm

      Marokon Morsian-hui! Eli siellakin yleista tallainen sirkus meikki! Kiva varmaan katsoa haakuvia vuosien jalkeen :) hehe, maassa maan tavalla!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 9, 2012 - 11:18 pm

    Layla, you nailed it. I am laughing sooo hard. I remember seeing a makeup tutorial at work one day and it looked so horrendous (in UAE). There is a fine line between looking like a transvestite and elegant in Middle Eastern makeup.

    Ya banat, khafaf al makyaj.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerFebruary 10, 2012 - 12:01 am

    my wife ended up with a huge fight with the make up stylist who insisted that there is no way a bride can go with what she perceives as "no make up at all"! lol
    hilarious post layla,,your witty posts are my favorite!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:09 pm

      Dentographer-thanks! I’ve heard this happen quite often, so it’s also the make-up “artists” who ruin the poor girl faces sometimes!ReplyCancel

  • JeanFebruary 10, 2012 - 2:18 am

    How uncomfortable with so much make-up.

    The last time I wore any makeup was um….about a year ago.

    And I work full-time in a dept. with men and women.

    I think alot of make-up would just sink into my now fine wrinkles that are starting. I told you I don't have a hang-up about not having make-up alot the time.

    Concessions: would be a dressy partyReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:16 pm

      Jean-Mostly these women have their faces covered so only the eyes would be showing most of the time.. I think the fact that Saudi women so rarely get to really go all out and dress up and “show off”, that when they are given the chance they sometimes go overboard with everything..ReplyCancel

  • diana | nessreenFebruary 10, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Hahaha! The Herpes look and Boy George are favorites.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 10, 2012 - 9:16 am

    ahahahaha loving this post..please let us in on more of the saudi womans they are so mysterious and hard to get to know about. Can you do a post on weddings..and womens reactions to foreign women and their different style in clothes/hair/makeup..compared to the arab style.
    The make-up is so over the top but ure ideas of being the "wall flower" i think are stunning.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 10, 2012 - 10:19 pm

      anon-thanks :) But please please use nickname next time so we “know” you!
      I’m planning on writing a post about the actual wedding which is in one week, so stay tuned :)I’m going to be the only non-Arab there!

      Most Saudis and probably most Arab women prefer white skin..they will us all sorts of whitening products and lots of make-up to appear whiter. Same in Asia and so many other places where women are “dark”.

      Funny how we in the west hate white skin (in general) and would rather be tanned! I know I do lol!ReplyCancel

  • MinetteFebruary 10, 2012 - 11:26 am

    That's the one thing, when I was in Saudi (it was for work not even a wedding) I felt so frumpy! I never wear make-up but next time I'll take mascara and eye shadow along (I'm with you though, the face-painting-alien-boy-george look is a bit much)ReplyCancel

  • Otto BreknerFebruary 10, 2012 - 7:56 pm

    aesthetically speaking, hideous! and kinky, in the same time :D but i believe it is part of their conspicuous way of living. if you don't show off, you don't exist. kind of a potlatch (of native american indians), to position yourself among your peers, by the extent of resources you can waste (time including, because it takes time to have that make-up). this is one basic mechanism ofReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 11, 2012 - 12:29 am

      Otto-interesting point of view.. I agree It might have something to do with “if you don’t show off you dont exist”. Especially young unmarried Saudi women HAVE to get noticed at weddings. Why? because all the older women in attendance are looking and evaluating them for potential wives for their sons! It’s the mother’s that choose the wife. I f they ar looking to get married that is.. (which 99% of them are)ReplyCancel

  • MeleesFebruary 10, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    Herpes-look .. repesin!! :D

    Otherwise.. maybe a bit too much for my taste, but some of those were like piece of art :)ReplyCancel

  • Karen KingFebruary 11, 2012 - 12:02 am

    can’t really comment. waiting for my jaw to come up off the floor.ReplyCancel

  • Karen KingFebruary 11, 2012 - 12:05 am

    i’m a child of the 70s. little as possible in revolt to the 60s Twiggy blue eye shadow. i never wear makeup. i’m still blown away with those pics.ReplyCancel

  • FeliciaFebruary 11, 2012 - 7:16 am

    I’m all for the natural look and highlighting your main assets in a much more subtle way. But hey to each their own :)

    Another thing that I’ve always thought looked silly was the coloured eye contacts that look really fake, it always reminded me of bug eye’s. When talking to people who wear really fake looking coloured eye contacts, I’ve felt like I couldn’t see them, if you get what I mean. You can see a lot from looking into a persons eye’s.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:32 pm

      Felicia-Some women wear colored contacts daily, seen them in the hospital. Always blue! Looks really really fake and even scary. For me I can’t look into their eyes without feeling unease.ReplyCancel

  • OmeishFebruary 11, 2012 - 10:20 pm

    This also can be said to be the result of colonialism. Iman Al-Jazairi says “Looking at Arabic poetry and novels, it is interesting to see that pre-Islamic poetry up until western colonization at the eighteenth century, women were always described as having long, wavy, black hair, brown skin, black eyes with the white of the eyes very white. The body proportions were also bigger. During the later part of the nineteenth century and until very recently, light skinned, blond women have usurped the beauty standard in modern Arabic literature.”ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:35 pm

      Omeish-hmm,interesting! But then again there’s all those poems about fair women and how beautiful they were. Wasn’t fair skin always what Arab women preferred, that is my perception? Also the Asians wanted to be be white before colonialism, think about the white Geishas for example, the ultimate beauty symbols of the east!ReplyCancel

    • MichelleDecember 13, 2012 - 4:28 am

      Laylah thats not true. Asians did not want to be white before colonialism. In fact Arab and Persian men specifically would seek out women from South Asia and Africa cause they highlighted the beauty standards at the peak of Arab civilization. This only changed with colonialism and post colonialismReplyCancel

    • AnonymousDecember 13, 2012 - 4:29 am

      Geishas were actually not the ultimate beauty symbols. At most, maybe in Japan, but they were only looked at as companions, concubines, or prostitutes. They were not necessarily wife material.ReplyCancel

  • StephiFebruary 12, 2012 - 3:29 am

    Pahahaha! Totally cracks me up!

    So, needless to add to the list, but I married in Turkey and the salon insisted on making my pale white skin “tan”. However, they failed to realize there was more skin to “tan” than just my face! :) teehee… I had to blend it in and lighten it when I left.

    They also struggled with my lack of eyelids… I think it is my Finn genes, but I really don’t have much for eye lids so they had a hard time trying to figure out where to put the eye shadow! And of course, I had to have mascara on my light blond eye lashes, so then my eye brows needed to be darkened.

    In the end, they did a fabulous job with what they had to work with, and it was subtle enough for my taste. But even my mom would later call it the “Exotic Middle Eastern” look (which her Finnish genes didn’t take to liking much). teeheehee

    Fun Post!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:37 pm

      Stephi-I find that strange that they wanted to make you tan! I mean isn’t it pale white what they always aim for?

      I hope I’m as lucky as you and manage to pull of the “exotic Middle Eastern” look on Finnish features :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 12, 2012 - 7:04 am

    Hahaha I think this is my favourite blog post ever! We mock it, but others actually see this and think its beautiful! I’m married to an Omani man and its pretty much the same over here : )ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:38 pm

      ^^Hey there and thanks :)Does your Omani husband think this is beautiful?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousFebruary 15, 2012 - 12:35 pm

      haha noooooo! He thinks it’s scary. But I think most men do…actually the women do it more for each other not for the men.ReplyCancel

  • Satu VWFebruary 13, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    You got my vote! And pheww… those make-up styles are outrageous! Makes me feel lucky to have married a British man :)ReplyCancel

  • Nour AbdulFebruary 14, 2012 - 11:32 am

    What they really need is make up 101 make up tutorial.Seriously, they look scary to me!
    But I had a good laugh at all the pictures…LOLReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    Nour-problem is all the make-up tutorials for “arab make-up” out there end up looking like one of the above lolReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 14, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    Hi Layla, at the weddings do the men have the chance to see the bride or the other women? Are they doing this just for themselves? I wonder why they think it would be appealing to anyone. Furthermore, can’t believe anyone had the nerve to question or even comment on your make-up. How rude. It’s like no holds bar! I’ve seen many Saudi women, fully covered in Canada, but with a kilo of make-up on. Not so beautiful in my small mind. (BTW I can’t figure out how to leave my name as it won’t accept it.)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 14, 2012 - 10:10 pm

    in the north of Africa, we are also arab , but our make-up isn’t like that.our make-up is like European make-up. this outrageous scary ugly make-up is the speciality of Middle East arabs.ReplyCancel

  • MFebruary 15, 2012 - 6:59 am

    I’m in the minority here, but I think the eyes look cool. If I was invited to an event where this was the norm, I think I might sport the face paint or spider face :). Of course I have also always been partial to Halloween costumes :PReplyCancel

  • trevaFebruary 18, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    HILARIOUS!!!!! arab weddings are like oscars on crack!!!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 20, 2012 - 9:12 pm

      treva-you’re comment made my day! Been under the weather today but this CRACKED me up lol!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 19, 2012 - 9:23 pm

    This whole post was just aimed to make fun of other women, subhanAllah.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 20, 2012 - 11:46 am

      How sad that you think so. You must be a very negative person, subhanallah. And disrespectful too, because you didn’t use a nickname when you can clearly read from above that it’s required.ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1February 20, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    Well, in one way it does make fun of women. However, I think the message Laylah is trying to send is that your natural beauty is the best and the rest is a fake fascade that hides the true essence and beauty of women. I have always heard makeup was suppose to compliment a woman’s natural beauty not turn her into a clown. Of course this was my take on the article and I understand that when writing one shows extremes to try to get people to think about the message. In other words, Anon, you may have not understood her message. Of course, this was my take from the article. Just some points to ponder.

    Just a small note to women. Guys really don’t care for all the makeup most prefer the more nature look.

    Of course there is the cost factor as makeup is freaking expense and dry cleaner bills are a pain if mascara and stuff gets on your shirt.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 20, 2012 - 9:11 pm

      Bigstick-spot on, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say. WOmen don’t ned this much make-up, especially Saudi omen who are naturally very beautiful.

      Some people just like to read stuff the way they see things, as we can see from the above anon who clearly has a very negative outlook on life.ReplyCancel

  • Shurooq Al HaremiMarch 8, 2012 - 8:57 am

    the HORROR! I CAN’T believe some girls actually put all of that on their face and have the guts to step out of the house! I always loved the natural look,but this post is way too scary! haha I enjoyed it x


  • sunkissedmandarinMarch 23, 2012 - 1:21 am

    I stumbled upon your blog Laylah, and it amused me. I also have the same shocking encounter as yours when a reserve saudi colleague of mine proudly showed me a picture of her overly made up face (angry- owl look) for her sisters wedding. I said she was lovely but heaven knows how i want to take my word back after i gain back my senses.ReplyCancel

  • DinaMarch 24, 2012 - 5:34 pm

    Obviously, you go to some pretty ghetto weddings.ReplyCancel

  • annaMarch 26, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    i totally DONT agree. i love the arabic make up. you have to realise that even arabic women have some sense of self humor. and its fantastic to be able to wear something that spectacular to usually AMAZING and huge weddings. It is extravaganza when a muslim woman weds and so is the party and its party. western women usually dont wear makeup and some ppl even come in everyday wear to weddings which is VERY booring. some of the women might not always look soo nice, but i think its fantastic what they put on and they dresses are amazing to. i really appreciate it and cant wait for my next wedding. i wish western women could be more sure of themselves sometimes and just go over the top, instead of usually being insecure and afraid to put anything on. i have so many friends that are almost afraid of wearing makeup afraid that they MIGHT look solly, and are also very shy!. they (arabic wedding styles) might not always appear classy for us (scandinavian to) but i think its so cool to see it. you must be able to see the fun in it all, dont you laylah? :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 26, 2012 - 1:24 pm

      anna-of course! That’s why I wrote this post, because it’s also quite funny.
      I think the western women are just afraid they might look like paid women because they are used to seeing only those types women wear so much make-up!
      But ya agree definitely western women who get invited should not go in boring outfits since this is the one time they can get away with anything and go all out :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 7, 2012 - 2:56 am

    you have encouraged me to start my own blog! you are a force to be reckoned with laylah.. you had me laughing so loud :P thanks, just the pick-me-up i needed :)ReplyCancel

  • FrankieMay 28, 2012 - 10:32 pm

    Salaam :) Just found your blog today & stumbled across this post – i laughed very loudly & had to pass it on to my husband to be. I’m British (white) & he’s British Asian & we’re marrying next month. We’re having a traditional Pakistani wedding (my insistence :D) & currently we’re both in the nightmare position of trying to find a make up artist that won’t make me look like coco the clown! i’m wearing beautiful Asian bridal wear (which was a nightmare to find as i’m a chubby girl &, despite me personally knowing dozens of chubby Asian ladies – the Asian clothing stores only stock clothes for tiny women!:P) & Western make up styles are just going to be too understated for the event, but pretty much all the Asian make up artists seem to think that “i’m getting married, make me look special!” = “i’m getting married, i want to look like Crusty the Clown from the Simpsons!”. Doh! Needless to say this post really rang true to me & cheered me up no end :D P.S: i’m also scared that my exceptionally pasty white skin is going to look hideous with 10 pounds of make up on it, i only wish that these ladies making their skin as white as possible knew just how much us pasty white complexioned girls would love to trade skin with them! With love from England! xoxReplyCancel

  • QAugust 8, 2012 - 4:01 pm

    Now I can understand why the men aren’t allowed to the women’s side – that would scare me to death too. :DReplyCancel

  • ShaziaSeptember 1, 2012 - 10:53 am

    Hahaha I love this! I grew up in Riyadh, and one of my friends recently married a Saudi guy. Everyone on our side (we’re indian) was horrified when we saw her. Although I should say, she was being a god sport about it, and didn’t show how bothered she was by all that weirdness on her pretty face. I don’t understand why they would want to look like this, esp when they are usually so pretty!
    Oh and the beads on the forehead thing is actually quite common in traditional hindu weddings. But the make up isnt so outrageous. :D

    PS- just found your blog, and totally loving it! I’m going to be reading it from start to finish now! would love it if you would drop by mine :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahSeptember 1, 2012 - 10:56 pm

      Hi Shazia and thanks for the comment! Was the groom equally horrified of his bride turned unrecognizable?
      I’m glad you enjoyed, will visit our blog now!ReplyCancel

    • ShaziaSeptember 30, 2012 - 5:41 pm

      I'm not sure. I didn't want to ruin anyone's day by asking, 'coz everyone else thought she looked ravishing ;)ReplyCancel

    • ShaziaSeptember 30, 2012 - 5:43 pm

      Oh I don't know, didn't want to make things awkward by asking anyone, especially since everyone seemed to be impressed by what the make-up 'artist' had done ;)ReplyCancel

  • ummu kulsumSeptember 2, 2012 - 8:30 am

    WHOAHA… HA… HA… HA… its so funny, I hope not saudian not angryReplyCancel

  • RawiyahOctober 7, 2012 - 6:40 pm

    Laylah, i am pretty sure that you know Marlena from makeupgeek. She has an Arab inspired makeup look using gold, plum and black. It’s nothing close to Arabian makeup, but it’s definitely way prettier. I attempted the look in my last post. You can check it out and it might be one that you’ll be inclined to do.


  • Naive ObserverOctober 21, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    I guess that there are two reasons for this. 1. the society got rich in a small amount of time. They didn’t get used to it yet, so they think more is better. 2. gender segregation. No one is seeing their face, hairstyle and their pick of clothes normally, so they overcompensate when they can. Oh, maybe three. I noticed the more south you go, the more gypsy & kitch style women adore.ReplyCancel

  • Fashion in dubaiOctober 25, 2012 - 7:42 am

    Love Love Love the post…Really interesting to hear how saudis celebrate weddings. I heard the gulf style makeup worn by party goers is quite over the top and at times frightful?.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 6, 2012 - 1:35 pm

    I am a Scandinavian man, raised in a “no makeup” culture, and I still have a different view. I have always liked this heavily madeup look. For instance, i think the spidery look is really nice. I dont know why, could partly bee because it may reflect a self-expressing and more outgoing personality. However, this ‘explanation’ does probably not apply to these ladies so there must be other reasons. A moment of identity?

  • AnonymousNovember 23, 2012 - 8:06 pm

    Another thing I don’t understand is having too much powder plastered on even on the parts other than face like hands and legs to look white. Why to ruin the skin?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 24, 2012 - 1:48 pm

    My favorite look is Princess Amira Al-Taweel. She NEVER piles up all that make up and always looks fabulous. Apart from being a beautiful woman, she also has a nice taste.ReplyCancel

  • AnneDecember 12, 2012 - 4:06 am

    I dont want to sound mean since their culture probably leans into the colorful and flamboyant look? Tradition maybe? but boy did you make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. I’m not in the laughing mood too! Awesome blog!ReplyCancel

  • LorraineDecember 25, 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Hello from Canada, I Love your sense of humor. You made me laugh, and I really needed that today. I am a recovering make-up artist(not guilty of make-ups like that!!). I found a book in a store in Montreal called “Married to a Bedouin” goggled it and also saw your blog link. Lucky me.


    • RoseNovember 14, 2013 - 12:00 am

      It is ironic that the Arabic makeup looks here have quite a few blue eyes, noticeably contact lenses. As an American woman (living in Saudi) who worked for nearly 15 years in the USA as a makeup artist, I have noticed how sad it is that Arabic and Indian women sometimes reject their own natural beauty with skin bleach or white foundation, absurd nose contouring or fake blue contacts. The former Miss Universe from India wears blue contact lenses – this is racism against one’s own race! Some makeup looks don’t even look good on a white woman, and there are so many gorgeous women known from every race. As a makeup artist intimately familiar with the way every woman’s face is beautiful if it is honored, it is disturbing to see all these blue contact lenses, heavy nose contouring, and white makeup on these lovely Arabic women.

      Clearly, they are also flying in the face of Saudi culture in a big way. Both sexiness and glamour, which flaunt beauty, are the key Islamic no-nos. Not only are they not allowed to do it, they don’t really understand it. It is foreign to them, so it’s like Halloween or playing dress up. Yet It makes it safe for them to express their beauty and sexuality in the context of being outrageous, clownish, streetwalker-ish or Boy Georgish. This is not like an American wedding where we represent who we are and want to keep it real. This is a society where women are subjugated and beauty and sexuality of women are considered “haram”. It is very unhealthy, and the way they act out is a little unhealthy too, but what do you expect?

      I saw one commenter get quite defensive of her need to partake of the guilty dress-up pleasure: that she thought American women were boring and “insecure” in comparison because they do not do this. Obviously, American women such as Marilyn Monroe, Charlize Theron, Tyra Banks, Selma Hayek, or other glamorous American women of all colors, were/are not insecure or boring. But Saudi women are still covering, in some way, under all this makeup. It is heavy, because it is another face cover. Deep down they are still hiding the fact that they are beautiful. To tell them to come out from under these masks is just as futile as telling them to come out from under their abayas and niqabs.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 27, 2012 - 11:59 pm

    this something I can’t deny girls in saudi are kinda obsessive about being white so they ruin their selves with the white foundation but not all the saudi girls are like that i assure u ,, specially the fashionable onesReplyCancel

  • rose waterFebruary 14, 2013 - 3:16 pm

    Ooooh my oh my, this post made me LAUGH OUT LOUD :-D Thank you for this great post. I couldn’t agree more with you, sis! Less IS more! <3ReplyCancel

  • LuayMarch 20, 2013 - 3:59 pm

    Saudi women get their inspiration for a wedding make-up from decorated Pakistani trucks.ReplyCancel

    • SanaOctober 27, 2013 - 5:59 pm

      Hahahhahaa that comment really cracked me up! :pReplyCancel

  • DlrNovember 29, 2013 - 5:33 am

    Hi. I’m an American Latina that has dark eyes and hair but white skin. I married a khaleeji. I was told I did not have enough makeup on at my wedding! I had never worn so much before!! I must say, I thought I looked beautiful and had done a great job enhancing my beauty. Looking at the photos; I look … Well, simple. But pretty! I went to a wedding a few years ago, and it was with people from Salalah! OMG!!! Scary. I got in line to get food and when I looked up and across to the other side I screamed! She said ‘salaamat!!, miskeena!’ And I choked. By the time I got to my seat I was laughing inside. What these photos don’t show is the reality of the women who are NOT model type natural beauties. The tons of makeup used to cover blemishes! It’s disturbing. I have so much to say about this subject. I do want to say that we should understand the ideas of beauty differ. These khaleeji women and from the Levant, THINK it’s beautiful. It’s what you do. It’s not them being suppressed or covering themselves in another way! I personally don’t like it but guess what, it’s fun to get all gussied up (not to this extent of the examples)! To each his own and believe me; I live here. I see a lot. Ps. All the men I’ve talked to don’t particularly like it but accept it as popular culture. I should write a book!!ReplyCancel

  • Scherazad FalconJanuary 20, 2014 - 6:48 am

    U forget eyes r very important in Arab culture. U need to do u r research and stop disrespecting these woman.ReplyCancel

  • scherazad falconFebruary 4, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    in saudi arabia the mothers of the sons choose the prospective bride for their sons. the single women at weddings are being watched by the mothers of prospective grooms. because khaleeji and wedding make up is not westernized in saudi many western women dont get it. this is a different culture,mothers are observing and single women competing and trying to make themselves seen, celebrating, etc. knowing future mothers in law are evaluating. besides its a great excuse to get all dressed up, having fun and celebrating. dont judge they may feel we are strange with our wedding customs too.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaFebruary 5, 2014 - 4:16 pm

      Not judging, just a humorous post don’t take to seriously :)ReplyCancel

  • RanaMay 12, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    I am a saudi female i have never seen these styles in person in alllll the weddings that i have been to. I dont know if you are telling the truth or just a hater. I do count this offensive. Even these pix that u have used are for non saudi ladies.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJuly 13, 2014 - 12:40 am

      Maybe you should look up from the dictionary what ‘humor’ or ‘satire’ means :)ReplyCancel

  • […]  Not everyone wants to go to a wedding looking like a scary clown.  Speaking of scary clowns, read this Blog post by another Westerner living here to know about makeup trends in Saudi Arabia from the last couple of […]ReplyCancel

  • Adelina RashitiJuly 23, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    Never been to a Saudi wedding but have seen pictures hahaha it’s true what you said.. I’m sorry but yeah most women look like clowns ReplyCancel

  • Valentina GonzalezAugust 5, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    You should do a serious research about Arabic culture. Your way of speaking is very disrespectful. I’m an open mind person, If you don’t like this style then don’t wear it. But don’t post pictures of women and make fun of them this way. If you live in Saudi Arabia I’m quite surprised tho. ReplyCancel

  • […] one post that went on to become a hot favourite, Laylah is choosing her make-up style for a wedding. Before she concludes upon an understated European look, she runs her readers through some popular […]ReplyCancel

  • Zurina PriceOctober 1, 2014 - 10:48 am

    To each woman her own! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ReplyCancel

  • EleeshaOctober 30, 2014 - 5:27 am

    I wonder what you wore haha bet the peacock would have looked awesome! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Salhah HamadJanuary 20, 2015 - 8:15 pm

    Oh my dear ! we have such bad make up around the world, so it is not exclusive for Saudis to look like this. We have beautiful make up artists but the above shots spread widely because they were uniquely wired :)ReplyCancel

  • HafanaJuly 10, 2015 - 2:29 am

    Nice makeupReplyCancel

  • ameFebruary 20, 2016 - 3:48 pm

    hahahaha im saudi and this sooo true too true lol.i like looking natural where my mom loves to go all the wayy with massive hair and overdone make up hehe. im surprised that someone noticed that here , i laughed my ass off when i read th title along with the picture. keep going looveReplyCancel

  • Stephen HicksonJuly 12, 2016 - 4:02 pm

    I was looking for pictures to serve as a warning for a female friend about to get married and this served best!ReplyCancel

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