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Haben Girmay: Highlighting East African Beauty

  • “Fear is what stops people from becoming great” – Haben Girmay

Born with a love for art, she mixed colors on the canvas when she was young. It wasn’t long before she turned her passion to mixing colors on her face and then those of her family and friends. Eventually, after studying skincare, she would go on to becoming a highly successful professional make-up artist. Haben Girmay turned her dreams into reality and spreads the message that the sky is the limit. Currently, she is highly popular on social media, both for her lessons on make-up and her inspiring motivational videos.

Today, Q and A is excited to introduce our readers to professional make-up artist and licensed esthetician, Ms. Haben Girmay.

  • -Welcome to our Q and A, Ms. Haben! When did you start to develop an interest for skincare and cosmetics?

Well, it all started with my art background, which I inherited got from my dad. Painting and drawing were my passion when I was a kid. So, it wasn’t a surprise when I began to develop an interest for make-up around when I turned 14. Cosmetics is a form of art that lets you be creative with mixing colors and complexions. With time, I also became interested in skincare. Having a healthy, clear skin is one of the fundamental subjects in make-up. One can put much make-up on skin, but on great skin it looks much better.

To be professional at what you do, you need to be certified and knowledgeable. That is why I focused on skincare in school and became a licensed esthetician skincare specialist. My motive was to understand skincare and then make-up. From working on my own face, I went on to putting makeup on my family. However, it is when I got to the age of 17 that I began to think about it professionally. I went to a makeup school to get my certificate which wasn’t that difficult for me since I already had the rudiments.

  • -Being an esthetician and skincare specialist…

Well, it deals with skin and everything to do with it. Our classes encompassed a number of topics, including how to properly cleanse the skin and keep it healthy, as well as a bit about dermatology issues, such as acne, pimples, and melisma and different ways to treat them. We also learned how to properly wax the skin.

  • -As you began working on strangers for the first time, were you scared, given how young you were?

No, I wasn’t. I had the confidence that I knew what I was doing. I believe that fear is what stops people from becoming great. Anyone can apply make-up, but it is important to be professional at what you do. You have to understand the basics. However, it can also be challenging, since people have different eye and face shapes. Of course, at times, I have to deal with “bridezillas”, who can be unbearable. But I guess that is the nature of the job and I have to remember to be professional.

To be a professional make-up artist also costs me a lot of money. Nonetheless, I have to invest significant amounts of money in order to get quality outcomes. In the make-up art industry, you want people to recognize you for the quality of your work. That is how you can be successful. So, yes, it can be financially challenging for people to do well in the field.

  • -You are quite popular on social media, as well. Could you tell us a little about that?

I had no plans to go on YouTube, since it can require a lot of work at the beginning. However, I was encouraged to do so by my close friends. They suggested that I start a channel in my language, Tigrigna, since it would be the first of its kind. For a long time, Ethiopian make-up artists have been publishing videos in their various languages. Yet, there were none by Eritreans. So I went in and invested in good camera and lighting products. I did my first video in English which people liked, but it wasn’t attracting the people that I needed for my audience.

My idea was to do videos which could be helpful to Eritreans and allow them to better understand skincare and the healthy use of make-up. An East African person can view videos published by people from other parts of the world, such as North America or Europe, but those people talk about their own skin. We have a different kind of complexion and hair texture. For that reason, I started putting together videos which could help Eritreans. Personally, since I was already doing it professionally, I thought, why not help out others?

In fact, the last time that I checked, I had about 35,000 followers on YouTube and 15,600 on Instagram.

  • -Your videos are entertaining and educational at the same time….

Thanks. I’d like to believe that I’m friendly and social. By the way, I don’t only talk about things related to beauty in my videos. I also have morning segments where I talk about positivity, confidence, and motivation. I try to motivate and encourage people to be positive and let go of negative things. I try to reassure them to move on and stay positive. I also try to incorporate some funny things in my videos. Ultimately, I just hope that I can make people smile while also being informative.

  • -Would you please share some tips about skincare and make-up with our readers?

Sure. Well, everyone should understand that water is the key to having healthy skin. If you have the habit of eating greasy and sugary foods, it can show on your skin, particularly with pimples and oily skin. Similarly, if your body consists of high calcium, your hair tends to be dry and fall off. Thus, drinking a lot of water throughout the day is one of the keys to having a healthy body and great skin and hair.

In terms of make-up, one of the common mistakes that I see is the mismatch of foundations. With a darker skin, people tend to wear a lighter foundation, which makes their skin look ashy. I have also seen it with people with much darker eyebrows, who should, in fact, be using dark brown eyebrows in order to make it look realistic.

My advice is that less is more. Make-up should look natural. Also, there is something I would like to stress. I have seen many Eritrean females use chemicals to brighten their skin color. There is nothing good about that. It can damage your skin, cause severe acne, and even lead to cancer. Natural things work better for our skin – it just takes time. Unfortunately, people just want rapid results through chemical creams. This is not something that I advise.

I have many videos talking about how natural products can remove pimples and melisma. For example, a potato mask is one of the best ways to remove melisma. It has natural enzymes and a natural “bleaching” agent that can remove dark spots.

People think that make-up messes up your skin. However, this is not the case if you do it well and cleanse your skin afterwards. Of course, you also don’t have to wear it every day. When applied properly, make-up is a form of art that brings out any part of your face.

  • -Thank you for your time! Anything you’d like to add at the end?

First of all, thank you for interviewing me. Concerning the future, I was going to launch my skincare line this year, but there were other things to be done first – like getting married! In fact, I am here to get married in January to Abisolom Yohhanes. I am going to launch my skincare line next year. I also have plans to open my own beauty salon, but I am going to focus on skin first.

Also, I want to tell all the girls: you have so much power. Guys can sometimes try to make us feel like we are weak, but we are powerful. You can be anything that you want to be. Just because you are female, you should not feel that you cannot certain things. Don’t underestimate yourself. Whatever you love, whatever your passion is, you should follow it. The sky is the limit, you can do whatever you want but when you are doing it make sure it makes you happy.

  • -Editor’s note: keep up with the latest from Ms. Haben Girmay’s on:

Instagram: @_Habibi_9

YouTube: ShikorinaByHabi

Facebook: Haben Girmay

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