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Black is Beautiful

By: Asmait Futsumbrhan

Meet Haben Gebreab, a 26-year-old Eritrean professional makeup artist, designer, and painter. Playing with colors when she was just a kid, colors led her to draw and combining colors in clothing materials. As years passed by, Haben decided to turn her hobby into a full-time job by taking courses in fashion and other related fields. Academic education was something she strived for alongside her passion for fashion, Haben managed to get her diploma in accounting in 2015.

No makeup is makeup” is a principle she truly believes in. The young makeup artist advises us to maintain our natural skin and refrain from applying hazardous chemicals on our faces.

Tips- for a healthy-looking skin

  1. Drink water
  2. A healthy diet (more vegetables)
  3. Regular exercises
  4. Moisturizers
  5. Sunscreen
  6. natural homemade masks
  • Drawing dresses in the middle of Biology Class!
  • “I loved Colors”

I was drawn to art at my early age. I had the talent of painting and drawing, and art, in general, became my passion for as long as I can remember. I used to paint and draw in the middle of my classes beginning from elementary school. There actually were always drawings of dresses in my notebooks. I honestly don’t know why but most of my paintings were of girls. That may be the fashion side that pulled me in later on. I participated in painting competitions in elementary school. When I was in 4th grade I won my first painting competition. When I grew up, at a time that I could make my own decisions, I started taking an Art class at Satreb Art School. At the art school, I met people who had the same passion and interest as I did. I think that added to my devotion to become an artist. Afterward, fashion meant everything to me. I became more interested in fashion and things related to it: designing, hair, and makeup. I got my diplomas and certificates in designing, hair, and makeup while I was a freshman at EIT College.

  • Education First!
  • “Accounting & Fashion had its hand in hand”

My parents have always tried to make sure that I fully understand the value of education. Most of the time I see people make the decision to completely shift from school to the world of art, which is the world I love. However, I feel it is always best to support your artistic talents with education. Inspired by my mother, who is an accountant; I studied accounting at SMAP Institute and graduated in 2015. Studying Accounting has allowed me to see that there is nothing wrong in mixing professions. It’s an addition in life, another dimension to be creative, productive, and responsible in life.

  • Growing to be a Fashionista
  • “I want to have my own brand”

Some people may see just clothes, but I see the style. People have truly understood and followed fashion since the early times in our country. This isn’t something new to us, Eritreans. Our grandmas were stylish; we can always refer to old photos of every Eritrean family. I see fashion as an important factor in the world. It’s not simply about wearing an outfit; it goes way deeper than that. Fashion is a common language of the world at this point. Not only that, but it is also about identity, one’s culture, and history. It is a way the world shares all those things mentioned.

Fashion is also about beauty. I believe there is beauty in everything: our history, culture, customs, makeup, and much more, and I think Fashion can represent that. I only work hard to achieve a dream of making my own brand. I want to be able to have a brand that people would recognize every time they see an outfit. My works reflect our traditional designs mixed with different international clothing designs. So far I have had two fashion shows in collaboration with colleagues and I plan to have more soon. As In Eritrea, we have a beautiful culture and traditional attires, but I don’t think we have made our brands recognized internationally. It always pains me to see our traditional Zuria dress, our local food Injera, and many other things are promoted and sold as if they were exclusively Ethiopian products. As designers, we have the responsibility to put in some work that would represent our community or where we come from and earn recognition for our country. Even though my focus has been on makeup and hairstyles, this is also something I work on and plan to give more weight in the future.

  • Makeup & the Beautiful Eritrean Skin
  • “Whoever said white is the only beautiful thing?”

Your skin is simply the reflection of what’s happening inside you. Make-up doesn’t get you a radiant look, healthy skin does. If you eat a healthy diet and drink sufficient water to hydrate your body and your skin that is more than enough for healthy radiant-looking skin. We have got the most beautiful skin, but I see many girls and few guys use skin bleaching creams to get lighter skin. Who said black is bad? I honestly believe that we are using the media the wrong way. We might not pay much attention but subconsciously the media are putting in us some thought without our knowledge that white skin is perfect.

Some of the companies that make the hazardous chemicals put on phrases such as “White Perfect” on their products. Those chemicals have contents that damage our skin and lead to cancer. Not only that but in the online courses, I took I learned about many makeup products that have hazardous contents and which to avoid, and which to use. But many girls use such products without knowledge. My advice is for people to know their faces before applying any type of makeup product on the face. We all have different types of skin and only some types of products would go well with our skin. There are products that we can find at a cheaper price that can be harmful to the skin. We shouldn’t apply makeup to totally look like a different person; it should be applied only to enhance the beautiful features of your face, your looks.

People don’t think of the makeup artist as having a big role. To be honest, a makeup artist can make or break your day. Nowadays makeup artists are the ones that control the media. Everyone who appears on the television screen needs a professional makeup artist behind the screen. Makeup artists play a big part in the making of a movie. This field is a big deal worldwide, but I don’t think we get professional respect here. To be frank, one can’t just get to this profession if there is no passion for it. It is the most tiring and requires great devotion, but it’s very rewarding. No one would get to know the feeling you get when, after putting make-up on a bride, you see her open her eyes in front of the mirror and be so happy to see herself. I love that feeling and that feeling is what I crave every day.

“International companies are brainwashing us Africans to have lighter-looking skin. I say that is totally wrong and we should all try to keep our originally beautiful skin.”

  • Big time Feminist
  • “It’s time to do our part”

My biggest inspiration is my mother, Beyenesh Oqbaldet. She has shown me that a girl can be anything she wants to be. I always hate to see people degrading a woman. A woman is a daughter that makes you smile and a mother that cared for you. Education is the most important thing for a better life. To make yourself better and have a profession that would support you for life is something we should work for. I am married and my husband, Medhane, is my number one fun. I get the support that I need to plan further in my career. Any girl can manage to follow a dream and lead a life. This is something I got from my mother. And I wish to see more girls following a path our mothers showed us. Eritrean mothers are the strongest I have ever seen. They fought for freedom and they came back. It’s time to do our part, to carry on their legacy.

At last, I want to thank my family, my mom, and dad, Gebreab Teferi, and little sister Qalkidan (who was my guinea pig when I started working on fashion). I also want to thank my husband, Medhanie Abai for all his support. At last, I want to tell you that I am going to work harder and am currently planning on having another show (specifically hair and makeup) very soon in the future.

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