It started with a pair of badly threaded brows.
New to the UAE and preparing for her wedding celebrations, Claire Miller and a group of six friends visited a salon in Abu Dhabi for a spot of pampering. “We ended up with no eyebrows,” she says. “I was about to have my official wedding celebration in Italy and I had no eyebrows.”
Luckily, she has a lifelong passion for skincare and beauty treatments, which started when she suffered from a severe bout of acne as a teenager.
“Back then, there wasn’t a lot of information. Probably, today, there is too much information, some of it right and some of it wrong. Whereas back then, GPs wouldn’t really see you and if they did, there was only really one cream available. So it was me researching and trialling different things that ignited my passion for skincare,” she says.
While at university, where she studied business administration, Miller got a job with Crystal Clear, an early pioneer of micro dermabrasion, which provided more exposure to the skincare industry.
She ended up joining the UK’s National Health Service, where she worked on the cancer care pathway, but her passion for beauty and skincare endured — and came in handy years later when she and her new friends found themselves without brows.
“I said to the girls, we are not going to touch them, we’re just going to grow them back. And then I’ll try fix us up as best I can.”
She did such a good job of fixing them up that friends of friends started asking that she do the same for them. She decided to go back to the UK and take a course dedicated to brows — and her business was born.
Almost 13 years later and Miller is a much in-demand facialist and aesthetician, with a series of qualifications from the Confederation of International Cosmetology to her name.
“I have the most wonderful clients that I’ve spoken to for the last 11 or 12 years about skin.” And this, Miller says, is where her latest business venture was born: “On the treatment table.”
She has launched The Skincare Edit, an online boutique and information resource promoting some of her favourite tried-and-tested beauty and wellness solutions.
“For me, as a facialist, it’s about finding the best solution for that particular skin and that particular person. And getting transformational results, which you can actually achieve.
“The Skincare Edit is about bringing my most-loved brands to the Middle East, under one house, and making access easier and fair pricing more accessible,” she says.
The platform currently offers 20 brands, including 10 for which Miller is the exclusive Middle East distributor. These include Votary, Alpha H, Zelens, JS Health, Eye of Horus, Morlife Collagen Pantry, Lük Beautifood, Olive and Oliviere Wilson. The platform offers next-day delivery in the UAE, and also ships to Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
“Skin is our biggest organ and also the biggest barometer of our inner well-being,” Miller says. “I didn’t want us just to be about what you put on your face. I wanted us to be completely holistic, so we also have two incredible wellness brands, JS Health and Collagen Pantry. I also wanted to make sure we had a solution for every skin, whether you are a teenager with acne or whether you’re 45 and struggling with ageing, or you have rosacea or sensitive skin.”
Miller also offers online skin consultations, helping clients to fine-tune their skincare routines and sort through what she refers to as “the graveyard of products” that often sit unused in people’s bathrooms.
“If you are completely confused, and have spent thousands of dirhams on products, but you don’t know what any of them are doing for you, you can send us some images and fill out an online consultation form.
“We will go through what is inside your bathroom cupboard. We don’t want you buying for the sake of buying, or because it’s a new trend or something you’ve seen on social media. We want you buying with intent,” she says.
“Sometimes people will have some great products, but maybe there are too many active ingredients and not enough nourishment within their skincare routine. Or there’s lots of nourishment but a build-up of dead skin cells. We always talk about a balanced skincare routine and beyond that, overall well-being.”
Sustainability is also a consideration when Miller is selecting brands as partners. She buys in bulk and delivers orders in boxes made from 70 per cent post-consumer waste, with biodegradable tissue paper and thank-you cards.
Miller is very clear about her goal. “I would love to become the most trusted platform in the Middle East. We got some stats in the other day: 72 per cent of people that shop with us come back to us.
“Everything on the platform I have used, tried and tested, sometimes to my own detriment because I am a human guinea pig and I do have complex skin. And I’ve seen deliverable results. If I don’t genuinely love it, it’s not there.”