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Her career has taken her around the globe, but the one place that has influenced Hammam’s beauty routine the most is home.
Imaan Hammam has been such a fixture in the fashion and beauty industry for the past decade that it’s easy to forget she’s still in her 20s. The model was just 13 years old when she was scouted and 16 when she signed her first contract. Shortly after, Hammam — who was born and raised in Amsterdam to a Moroccan mother and an Egyptian father — moved to New York City, where her career instantly took off. (Like, really took off. Her runway debut was in Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2013 couture show, and a few months later she opened Riccardo Tisci’s Spring 2014 Givenchy show.)
“I grew up on the east side of Amsterdam, which is a neighbourhood known for its diversity,” says Hammam proudly, over a Zoom call. The 27-year-old is chatting from her New York City apartment, which she describes as an eclectic and colourful homage to her heritage. Hammam says Moroccan dishes, rich oud incense and Arabic music are constants in her home and names legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum as one of her favourite artists. “Her lyrics are like poetry, and when I’m in my feelings, she is definitely on my playlist,” says Hammam. “Growing up, I was exposed to so many cultures, and I think that really impacted my view of the world. I see beauty in everything.”
This perspective has certainly taken her far. Earlier this year, Hammam was announced as the newest face of Estée Lauder, making her the brand’s first Afro-Arab ambassador. It’s a full-circle moment for the model. “When I was eight years old, I was shopping with my mom and we saw this big Estée Lauder billboard featuring [Ethiopian model] Liya Kebede,” says Hammam. “I remember thinking, ‘Whoa, this woman kind of looks like me.’” At the time, Kebede had signed on to be the first Black model to front an Estée Lauder campaign. “It was the type of representation I needed to see.”
Fast-forward another eight years, when a then-16-year-old Hammam began modelling in New York City and was once again faced with a lack of representation. “No one knew how to do my hair,” she recalls. “I would have to straighten it before going to a job or a casting because my natural texture wasn’t really accepted.” Soon, Hammam realized she needed to become the representation she wanted to see. “I was so over it. I woke up one day and said, ‘I’m done.’ I showed up to all my castings with my big natural curls. I had to really find the confidence to be like: ‘Nope, I’m not going to change for you. This is my hair.’”
Confidence like that was impressive for such a young model, but Hammam was certainly not lacking in the strong female role model department growing up. One of six kids in a blended family, she says her older sister was “like a second mom.” And then there’s her first mom, who Hammam references several times throughout our conversation. To describe them as close feels like it would be a wild understatement. In fact, nearly every topic brings us back to Hammam’s mom, a woman she describes as “iconic” and “a trendsetter.” Her pure joy when talking about her mother is palpable — even through a laptop screen. “She was a North African Arab woman who moved to the Netherlands in the ’70s. She was so strong. She still has this confidence and glow about her. Whenever I walk into a room, I try to channel her,” says Hammam, grinning from ear to ear. “She introduced me to the hammam spa experience, shared her recipes for DIY beauty, showed me how to use essential oils and gave me Moroccan scrubs for my body and argan oil for my hair. To this day, my mom will call me and say ‘You have to use honey; put it all over your face,’” laughs Hammam, who, at this point, is fully beaming. “Just thinking about her makes me so happy.”
Hammam tells me about her beloved mother’s killer style, describing childhood memories of watching her get glammed up in her signature red lipstick, gold hoops and braids. “She was — and definitely still is — a maximalist who liked to pull out full looks.” After our call, I’m still thinking about Hammam’s descriptions of her vibrant family matriarch, so I browse through the model’s social media and find joy-filled photos of the two together. As I continue scrolling, I’m touched by what else I see: selfies and behind-the-scenes shots of the supermodel looking radiant and confident. In many of them, she’s wearing red lipstick, gold hoops and braids.
Here, Imaan Hammam shares her tried-and-true beauty essentials.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum
This is so hydrating and leaves my skin glowing. I use it every morning and night.”
Christophe Robin Luscious Curl Defining Cream With Chia Seed Oil
“This is my go-to hair product to keep my curls looking good.”
Heritage Store Rosewater Refreshing Facial Mist
“I love a spritz of rosewater to refresh and hydrate my skin throughout the day.”
Le Labo Santal 26 Classic Candle
“Candles keep me feeling calm and relaxed. I light one as part of my evening ritual.”
Cliganic 100% Pure & Natural Argan Oil
“I buy mine when I’m in Morocco and apply it everywhere — face, body and hair.”
Darphin Rose Aromatic Care
“I use rose oil after applying my serum each day. It keeps my skin feeling soft and hydrated and smells amazing.”
This article first appeared in FASHION’s November 2023 issue. Find out more here.
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