According to Jessica Kahawaty, This DIY Natural Hair Treatment Is Magic
From the moment Jessica Kahawaty stepped into our studio, all I could see was her striking resemblance to Amal Clooney. The high cheekbones, naturally full brows, unbelievably glossy head of hair—it was uncanny. But not only does the Australian-Lebanese model exude exotic beauty, she's also finalising her law studies at a Sydney university, is the current face of the Myer Spring/Summer Beauty Campaign, undertaking amazing humanitarian work, and quickly ducks over to New York for NYFW. Oh, she's a former pageant queen, too (she won Miss World Australia in 2012, and was third runner up in Miss World Lebanon in 2010, to name a few).
Polite, kind and refreshingly down-to-earth, Kahawaty took no more than 10 minutes to shoot (we're not surprised), before she dashed off to Bondi to take her visiting cousins for lunch (they even assisted at our shoot). We did however, make sure to ask Kahawaty about her take on beauty, product must-haves, and how she keeps her hair so damn glossy.
Keep scrolling for the full Q&A.
Byrdie Australia: What’s your first beauty memory?
Jessica Kahawaty: That would definitely be tweezing my eyebrows alone when I was so young. I got into so much trouble. I remember over-plucking them so much, my mother was horrified.
B: Do you rely on any beauty tips you’ve picked up from friends or family?
JK: As cliché as it sounds, water is the greatest beauty secret. It plumps up your cells, hydrates, and keeps you looking fresh. Everyone around me is constantly telling me to drink more water.
B: What did being part of the pageantry world teach you about beauty?
JK: That the idea of “most beautiful girl in the world” does not exist. How can you compare brunette Amazonian women to the incredible girls from Asia? Beauty comes in all forms, and pageants are more a celebration of all types of beauty and their respective philanthropic achievements in their countries.
B: Did you pick up any beauty tips from any of the other girls or from being in that atmosphere?
JK: The girls would often teach me how to do a smoky eye. I was terrible at doing my own makeup when I was young. I usually just wore a little bit of mascara and a lip tint. I learnt so much from them, especially the cultural differences in makeup and how each girl loved to do hers.
B: How did competing for the Miss World Australia and Miss World titles affect you and the direction of your career?
JK: Initially, it wasn’t something I wanted to do because I was still at university studying law, but it gave me an international platform to speak about issues that mattered most to me. It’s a blessing to be able to appeal to people globally on TV and social media. It should always be used for the right reasons. The pageantry title is for a year, but what matters most is how hard and passionately you work following that.
B: What does charity work mean to you?
JK: It’s something that truly fulfills me. There are so many issues I want to tackle and bring attention to this world. It really makes me who I am. I’m a deeply empathetic person, so I want to be a voice for those who can’t be heard. A lot of people are suffering, and if we all put in our little bit, it can lead to a bigger change.
B: Are there any charities that have a special place in your heart?
JK: I recently visited the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world in Jordan with UNICEF to understand more of the work they do. UNICEF is quite dear to my heart as it tackles children’s issues—whether they’re displaced, experiencing famine, or plagued by other situations. I’ve also worked with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. It helps many children suffering from cancer obtain the necessary treatment.
In the Australian sphere, even though I’ve never worked with Make A Wish Foundation, my best friend fundraised for them for a long time and I heard of the wonderful and magical work they do. It’s usually the children’s charities that resonate with me most, as they are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Helping them at a young age is the easiest way to improve the future.
B: Describe your morning routine.
JK: I wake up and wash my face with an activated charcoal soap, and then apply an oil-free SPF 50+ sunscreen from Dermaceutic. If I’ve got the day off, I’ll leave my skin make-up free. I’ll just apply a bit of Diorshow or YSL mascara to open up my eyes, and a cheek and lip tint from Mac.
B: Are there any beauty treatments you do on a regular basis?
JK: I regularly do facials that infuse lots of vitamins and minerals or hyaluronic acid. They’re a great way to keep my skin cleansed and hydrated. I don’t get peels often, I’ve probably had them twice in my life, but they’re a great anti-ageing tool, especially since I’m regularly in hair and makeup for shoots and events.
B: Which five things do you always have in your handbag no matter what?
JK: I always have my mother’s homemade roasted sesame, hazelnut, and honey bites. They’re the most delicious little things ever. When I’m flying, I must have water-soaked almonds and walnuts with me. On the plane I love to nibble to make the time pass, but these won’t leave me bloated on landing.
In terms of beauty, I can’t live without my Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Lip Balm. It’s so hydrating and plumping. I always have the SK-II eye or face masks with me for travel or before a shoot, they’re incredible. Finally, I’ll keep a Dior cheek tint with me if I’ve had a long day and have meetings towards the end for a refresh.
B: Walk us through your evening beauty routine.
B: Are there certain skin care products you reach for during summer?
JK: I love sunscreen with aloe vera in it. I also use coconut oil in my hair and almond oil for tanned, glowy-looking skin. My mum has an amazing homemade recipe I always use, it actually has tea in it.
B: Do you tend to stick to a beauty uniform or do you like to shake things up?
JK: I stick to the same routine six months of the year. But I like to visit my dermatologist overseas regularly so that my skin doesn’t get used to the products too much. It’s also important to give my skin a little rest from products and let me pores breathe.
B: What’s one beauty product people would be surprised to know you love?
JK: I love a homemade hair mask consisting of banana, avocado, and olive oil. But I’ve only done it three times in my life because it takes eight shampoos to remove. Every time I try it, I remember why I don’t do it often, but my hair has never been shinier and healthier after using the magic mix.
B: What’s your best energy-boosting trick?
JK: A shot of turmeric, lemon, and orange, a green apple, and dark chocolate with hazelnuts. I’ll also add a green tea on the side. I’ve never had coffee in my life (weird, I know), so the above work wonders.