Halima Aden may not be a household name (yet), but the Somali-American beauty has made modeling history since she rose to national attention in 2016. That’s when she competed for the title of Miss Minnesota USA as its first-ever hijab-wearing contestant and was named a semi-finalist. Her mega-watt confidence, poise, and beauty caught the notice of a modeling agency, and she’s been seen everywhere including the runway (Yeezy, Alberta Ferretti), covers of glossies (Vogue UK, Allure), and even the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue where she sported burkinis for the first time in the magazine’s history.
For those of us who live in multicultural, liberal-minded communities, a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants seems like a given. Spending most of my adult life in NYC, I took it for granted that whether a woman is sporting a hijab or pasties in public is simply her sartorial choice. The controversy around modest dressing really hit home for me after my sabbatical in France, where the rigorously secular government has made a point of banning headscarves from schools and governmental jobs, niqabs from all public places, and burkinis from certain towns like Cannes. This summer—one marked by record-shattering heat waves for weeks throughout France—the small city of Grenoble made headlines when burkini-wearing protesters and supporters demonstrated at its municipal pool, leading to a shut-down. Having stayed there for a month, it made me realize the curious duality of European liberalism: a woman’s right to sunbathe topless is held sacred and beautiful, while her right to cover herself up is excoriated. To the extent that full coverings don’t pose security threats (a legitimate concern), a woman should be able to wear whatever she chooses. It’s true that certain Islamic countries prohibit women from wearing certain types of clothes in public, but why should Western democracies employ the same bans in reverse?
What makes Halima so compelling isn’t just normalizing hijabs for the Western audience still wary of seeing Muslim women as whole, fully realized human beings. Her family fled the war in Somalia and moved to a refugee camp in Kenya, where Halima was born and raised for the first 7 years of her life. Even following her immigration to the U.S., her circumstances continued to be modest. Even after walking the Milan Fashion Week in 2016, she came back to her housekeeping job in Minnesota for its stable income.
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3 years ago today 😊 Never feel embarrassed for making an honest living. It’s okay to struggle .. there is absolutely nothing shameful about working hard to get to where you want to be. My housekeeping job taught me patience & communication skills. Working 3 jobs in high school prepared me for the career I have today. Take pride in your job & always give it your all. What may feel like a setback today can be preparing you for the ultimate comeback ❤️ – your big sis
Halima’s meteoric success since then is a breath of fresh air, especially in light of the immigration ban on Muslim-majority countries including her native Somalia. She’s a walking reminder that refugees are hardworking, talented, beautiful people just like anyone else. And her unabashed love of makeup is just another way Halima bonds with people from all backgrounds. Here’s how Halima nails her glamorous going-out makeup, as told to Vogue.
Start with a face mask
Deeply hydrated skin makes foundation “just glide on.” Halima uses aloe vera gel as a mask or a sheet mask. Afterward, she washes her face with Tascha The Deep Cleanse Exfoliating Cleanser (cruelty-free), which also happens to be a favorite of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex! (Aren’t you impressed with my encyclopedic knowledge of celeb beauty products? Muhaha.)
She rinses with cold water to minimize pores and create a smooth canvas. Note: to dry the skin, “I don’t actually ever rub—just gently tap,” Halima says. (I must stop rubbing forcefully with my towel to feel like I did something refreshing and important!)
Moisturize & Massage
Creating the best party look really comes from intense moisturizing. Halima swears by Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream, which—I know, really embarrassed I know this off-the-top—is a favorite of Diane Kruger and was developed by a German M.D. who used to cure burn victims with this innovative cell-renewal technology. It’s quite an investment item, but it keeps cropping up a lot. My interest has been piqued, Augustinus!
Halima then tops off the whole thing with a face oil massage for up to 5 minutes.
Build glow with little touches of different formulas
After toning the face with a facial mist, Halima blends in primer followed by a liquid foundation using the BeautyBlender. Next comes Kat Von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in a shimmering wine shade, applied on lips, top *and* bottom eyelids, *and* cheeks for an overall flushed glow. This not only saves money, but also creates a seamless look without introducing competing shades on your face. (Note: French icon Jeanne Damas does something similar with her lipstick too. I sense a global trend!)
Halima finishes off by using a creamy highlighter to bring out the eyebrow bone, the bow of her upper lip, tops of her cheeks, and the very tip of her nose.
Go for shimmery lids and cat-eye combo
Halima uses a brow gel to fill in her brows, highlights the top of her lids with gold shimmer, followed by mascara and a dramatic cat eye using a liquid liner. It’s a bit more refreshing alternative to your run-of-the-mill smoky eye. A lipliner and a lip gloss keeps things balanced.
Who else is feeling inspired to try putting lip gloss on eyelids and cheeks? 😉
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Photo: Halima via Instagram