Real Girl, Real Beauty: Sahar Dada

UPDATE: This story was originally published on June 11.
After meeting with up-and-coming designer Sahar Dada to scoop her beauty secrets, we came to the conclusion that the best part about her routine wasn't in her makeup bag. It's this budding talent's positive outlook and bubbly personality that makes her a true stunner — because who doesn't look prettier with a smile on their face?
But let's be real: A busy gal like Dada also depends on her go-to, homemade exfoliant and Russian Red lipstick from MAC to keep up with her appearance. Trust, once you get to know this gorgeous go-getter, you're going to want to buy her clothes and her favorite products.
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How did you get your start in design?
"I started designing clothes for myself in high school, and my friends would borrow (steal) them from my closet. It occurred to me then that I should definitely consider this as a career! I pursued it by attending the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago as a design major. It’s been a great journey ever since."

"Expressing myself through design has been truly rewarding. My first collection debuted in March of 2010, and at that moment, I knew this is what I wanted and more."

What’s the philosophy behind your designs?
"Whether it is the use of fabric, color, silhouette, or detail, I think that quality is key. Paying attention to the details is what makes these garments unique and customized. I try and use high quality fabrics that are hand-dyed and hand-embellished. I want my clients to increase their wardrobe with pieces that make them feel like they have something exclusive and will remain in their closets for years to come."

Sahar Dada jacket, Gap tank, J Brand, jeans, and a vintage necklace.
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What are your thoughts on accessorizing?
"I love accessorizing — I feel it makes or breaks your entire look. Mixing gold and silver is my go-to look. I never leave the house without my rings (wedding ring included), watch, and my bracelets. My two favorite are my David Yurman cable bracelet and orange Hermès cuff."

"I also love wearing antique pendants. I have a few really cool ones from Turkey and Iran! They have a lot of personality and intricate detail that definitely stand out. I have a really bad addiction to collecting sunglasses. Currently, I love wearing my Miu Miu cat-eye glasses."
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What’s the best beauty advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?
"My mom always said to wash my face before bed no matter how late I’ve been out or how tired I am. It's such a basic tip, but cleansing your face at night really affects how good your skin looks the next day."
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What summer beauty and style trends are you most excited about this summer?
"I am looking forward to trying everything that looks like the new-age hippie. From super-wide-leg pants to headpieces to vests. For beauty, I would say the dewy glow by using face oils."

Sahar Dada scarf.
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What's your makeup routine like?
"I like to keep my makeup simple. Less is more. Cat-eyeliner, concealer, and a little bronzer is my everyday look. I do, however, love a bold lip — but only if my eye makeup is minimal. My go-to bold lip color is Russian Red by MAC."

MAC Studio Fix Fluid, $27, available at MAC; Bare Escentuals bareMinerals High Shine Eyecolor, $12, available at bareMinerals; Smashbox High Definition Concealer, $22, available at Sephora; MAC Lipstick in VIVA Glam II and Russian Red, $15, available at M.A.C.; MACPowder Blush in Royal Sunset, $21, available at MAC; MAC Bronzing Powder Bronze, $24, available at MAC.
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What kind of pieces do you like to design?
"My designs are the by-product of who I am, what I feel, and where I've been. My South Asian heritage plays an important role in my designs, which shows in the vibrant colors and handmade embellishments. I love making feminine pieces using jewels and yards of fabric like chiffons and silks to create movement."
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Where do you like to shop for your beauty products?
"Online! It’s so much more convenient unless I’m looking to try something new."

B. Kamins Soothing Night Cream, $110, available at B. Kamins; B. Kamins Oxi-Defense Hydrating Eye Care, $60, available at B.Kamins; Burberry Body Eau de Parfum, $55, available at Sephora; Fendi Fan di-Fendi Eau de Parfum, $95, available at Macy's.
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What do you love about your West Loop 'hood?
"I love that It has a neighborly feel, yet it’s still in the heart of the city. I love the Randolph Street Market in the warmer months and all the great restaurants that have popped up recently. Not to mention our very own Mariano’s and Ulta for my emergency beauty needs."
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What’s been your biggest career accomplishment thus far?
"I think you achieve and accomplish goals you've set for yourself but you should always want more. With that said, I have a long way to go. I am very humbled that I was recently curated by The International Museum of Women in San Francisco for its exhibit: Muslim Women’s Art and Voices. It’s a blessing and I am so grateful to have been amongst so many amazing artists."

Sahar Dada tank top and vest and Ag jeans.
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How would you describe your style?
"My style is eclectic yet timeless. I love mixing old with new and high end with inexpensive pieces. I try to wear my own label to be able to relate to my clients and to see how new samples are received. Hence, I always have something to wear. I also believe that you should never compromise comfort to be trend forward (unless they’re heels!)."

5 48, Very Prive Christian Louboutin, and Prabal Gurung for Target shoes.
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Do you have any homemade beauty remedies?
"One of my quick home remedies is using a lemon, kosher salt, and honey as an exfoliator for my hands and feet. The concoction leaves your skin super-soft, so it's great when you don’t have time for a mani/pedi or run out of a scrub."
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Whose beauty/style do you admire and why?
"I would have to say Olivia Palermo for her effortless and classic style. She always looks radiant, and her makeup is never overdone."
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Did you ever have a beauty mishap?
"Absolutely! Who hasn’t? I normally get my brows threaded, but one day, I thought it would be a good idea to try doing it myself. I know some friends that do, so I thought 'how hard could it really be?' Not the best idea…I had a huge space between my brows and it took forever to grow them back! I am never trying that again."
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What’s your biggest beauty challenge and how do you work on conquering it?
"My hair! I have very wavy hair and I have yet to master the beach-wave look. I want to be able to embrace my natural tresses so I can avoid using heat. I’ll have to invest in some amazing sea-salt spray."
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Where do you like to go for beauty services in Chicago?
"Salon Soca is on top of my list. Anthony Maslo is a genius, He does my cut and color, and I have never left disappointed. I recently chopped off five inches and dip-dyed my hair; it’s been a great change. I get my nails done at a nail salon down the street from my place. They do a great no-chip manicure and they always accommodate to my random time schedule."

One 'N Only Argan Oil, $7.79, available at Amazon; Sedu Revolution Straightening Iron, $159.99, available at Folica; Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask, $49, available at Ulta; Aveeno Active Naturals Pure Renewal Dry Shampoo, $7.99, available at
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What are you currently working on?
"I have started testing and creating prototypes for spring 2014, along with previews and deliveries of fall 2013."
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Where can we purchase your gorgeous wears?
"You can book a private appointment through my site. You can also find exclusive pieces on Trendseeder, an amazing e-commerce shop based out of New York."

Sahar Dadatop, BCBG skirt, Alexander McQueen shoes, and a vintage Chanel bag.