Fashion blogger Rameen Saad on finding confidence through content creation & skincare
By Mariam Shaikh
Rameen Saad is the brains and the beauty behind Instagram fashion blog, @flormence. While Rameen spends her time finding success and curating her creative passions online, she also juggles being a third year English major at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). Kulfi chatted with Rameen about how she manages to balance her up and coming blog and her packed college schedule while still setting aside time for ample self care. We also unraveled her path to self acceptance and how starting a blog in the public eye helped her with this personal journey.
Q1. How did the idea for your fashion blog come about? How did you get it off the ground?
Growing up, I feel I lost my spark due to my lack of confidence and shyness. Learning how to speak up has been a never ending process and I find myself in a constant process of unlearning my insecurities, facing them head-on through these ventures. College was a space that allowed me to grow as a person, and gave me the push I needed, as well as a super supportive circle of friends. Now, I feel not just accomplished with my little project, but identify myself as this ‘blogger persona.’
I gained a second skin, one that pushes doubt away and repeats my new mantra over and over again: "Make sure you aren’t left thinking ‘what if?’ Take the step you need."
photo credit: Rameen Saad
Q2. What inspires your content?
Starting a blog was something I mulled over for around a year, watching bestdressed Ashley's videos on YouTube and being wholly taken aback by how this young girl had owned her awkwardness and was now not only relatable and fun, but also genuinely enjoying what she was doing. My shoot inspiration comes from whatever I have at hand! I only post pictures that have been taken in natural lighting as that’s what makes me happier and suits my style. My friend takes my pictures or I use a self-timer, nothing big as I’m not that great at photography. It is truly all about knowing your angles.
Q3. What do you study at college and how do you balance schoolwork and Flormnce?
I’m doing exactly what I love—English! Studying becomes fun as I love writing, reading and analysing. It has become second nature at this point. Finding a balance is easier when you remember to treat your breaks as rewards. I feel I entered the fashion influencer world with little to no experience or expectation, but have learnt quite a bit about it since. Being a college student, my niche lies within campus life and style, so my followers mirror that requirement. I do enjoy dressing up in college myself and feel it helps not just my confidence, but my work ethic and motivation.
My advice would be to acknowledge your achievements and know that the effort you’re putting in will pay off. Find ways to relax your mind.
photo credit: Rameen Saad
Q4. How does beauty and skincare factor into your journey with self confidence?
Clear skin is a genetic gift, one that I unfortunately was not graced with. Acne has been a constant struggle for me since age 15, going from puberty-induced acne to hormonal. My skin has always been oily and acne-prone, so that took a toll on my self-esteem and view of myself. It steadily worsened until I was put on Accutane by my dermatologist at age 19, and would somedays get so bad I would be afraid to look in the mirror. Of course, it improved from there as I keep a consistent skincare routine that has not changed for two years. The improvement of my skin has definitely not been drastic. There are good and bad days, and I am wholly dependent on the weather as well as fluctuations in my hormonal cycles.
I slowly learnt how to think of myself beyond the confines of the ‘perfect skin’ model, that it was mostly something that bothered me and did not stop me from interacting with people, or affect my personality.
I began to recognize it as superficial, and stopped piling makeup on to mask it as it was doing more harm than good by suffocating my skin. Now, I only use a concealer once or twice a month when absolutely necessary and go through my day with my Urban Decay translucent powder to combat oiliness (living near the sea, humidity is my worst enemy). My skincare regime may seem excessive, but I’m so used to it now I can do it without thinking! It becomes therapeutic and induces productivity through keeping up a daily routine.
Q5. What are your skincare must haves?
Here are the products I use daily, and can vouch for personally as they suit my specific skin type, in addition to a prescription retinol cream I use from my dermatologist:
- Thayer's Witch Hazel Toner — I swear by this product as it helped even out my skin and control breakouts. I’ve been using it consistently for two years now and its a blessing
- Rose Water Infused with Bergamot Oil — Rose water should be an essential for everyone, having a cooling effect on your skin and working to tackle problems associated with dehydrated skin and pores. I add a few drops of this bergamot oil and give it a good shake when I refill my bottle as it also contributes to acne prevention and generally is, as an essential oil, better for relaxation and calming yourself.
- The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension — I very recently started using this, and the difference has been immediate! My acne scarring is red and harsh no more, and the bumpiness of my skin has completely been controlled. It feels smoother now and absorbs products more readily as well.
- Physiogel Moisturizer for nighttime and The Ordinary Hydrating Solution for daytime —The weather in Karachi, my home town, is very polluted and drying. While Physiogel is usually for problem skin, I started using it as a nighttime moisturizer two years ago and its safe to say I never looked back. It acts as a hydrating mask, keeping your skin moist and supple. I have dry spots that this actively tackles. Its all around amazing.
- Sebionex Cream — Having oily skin, it's difficult to find products that keep your face matte without stripping it of the natural oils it needs. This cream enables sebum production as well as control, so that your skin is never dry, but producing a regular amount of sebum without making it look too slick and oily.
- Clearasil Acne Spot Treatment — My best friend when it comes to breakouts and unwanted pimples. It works so fast, drying out my acne in a day and then healing it over the next few with minimal scarring- I use it daily.
photo credit: Rameen Saad
Q6. What are some of the cool opportunities you’ve gotten through your blog?
I’ve had my blog for over a year now, and I’m so proud of the opportunities I’ve gotten! While I mainly promote small businesses, I was part of Sapphire’s influencer list for most of last year, as well as being featured by Beechtree. I try to display both Western and Eastern clothing as that kind of balance is my truth — I love kurtis and shalwars, and wear them almost every day. Some days, I pick up a pair of jeans and cannot bring myself to put them on. It’s hot! Being comfortable in both took its time, as we grow up being forced into Eastern clothing, and so Western looks become a means of having autonomy and your own identity, but escaping these confines is so important for both your relationship with your culture, and yourself.
I was a part of KOYO by Lulusar’s range! I also get to promote small businesses, something I think is the most important part of what I do. I’m not going to say my reach is the furthest, but exposure, especially online exposure, relies on seeing what other people are using. This form of community-building and trust is important for smaller and local brands who are built on their social media presence.
I get to promote brands that are more ethical than fast fashion. I also support local creativity and promote a more artsy and friendly environment online.
It’s good to be accepting and kind to those around you, and you can show that with what you promote and endorse.
photo credit: @zohairabbaskhan & noortakespics
Q7. Finally, what are the strengths and limitations of running your blog in Pakistan?
There are a few limitations, most of which includes safety and reach. It’s fair to say that digital and content creation is a difficult field to maneuver in Pakistan, where the line between what is acceptable and what is not varies. Recently, YouTube almost got banned, an archaic law that would have effectively diminished digital creativity in the nation. Even with this, though, you find progress and acceptability. People genuinely root for you and enjoy what you bring to the table as there are so far and few sources of original material. I love interacting with people around me regarding my blog. It’s fun.