Morning Routine: How Emirati Perfumer Amna Al Habtoor Starts Her Day

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Amna Al Habtoor Interview
Photo: Courtesy of @ArcadiaByAmna

Successful people around the world have their morning routines down to a fine art. So just how does Amna Al Habtoor, Emirati perfumer and founder of Arcadia fragrances, start her day? Savoir Flair gets a peek into her morning rituals, from her favorite beauty products to her daily scent traditions.


I wake up everyday at 6 a.m. sharp. It became an involuntary habit after having my kids, but now it’s so important for me to start the day early so that I get the most out of my days, which are usually very busy. I normally need to set only one alarm to get up, and I like to consider myself a morning person. Saying that, I do have those rare days, just like everyone else, on which I need to make use of the snooze button!

I hate to admit it, but the first thing I do once I’m up is look at my phone. I check if I’ve received any important messages from my family or team, and then scan my e-mails to see if there’s anything urgent that needs tending to. Nine times out of 10, there will be things that need a reply before my working day really begins.

Amna Al Habtoor Arcadia
Photo: Courtesy of Arcadia

I get into the shower at around 6:15 a.m. and only use cold water. Not only is this effective for waking me up, but there are also some great health benefits, including improved circulation as well as better hair and skin quality. I try to use organic brands on me and my kids, like Love Your Hair, which uses ingredients derived from argan trees and really helps to strengthen my hair. It doesn’t hurt that it smells great, too! I tend to wash my hair every other day, and I usually dry it at home with a little bit of the Shu Uemura ‘Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil’.

I love using shower gels from The Body Shop as they’re cruelty-free and easily accessible. My favorite is the raspberry shower gel, and I complement it with the raspberry body butter. As you can imagine, scent is important to me, so I am constantly switching my shower products according to my mood.

Once I’m out the shower, I wash my face with The Body Shop’s ‘Seaweed Deep Cleansing Gel’ and then apply Dior’s ‘Prestige’ cream under my eyes and on my forehead, cheeks, and neck using upward motions.

Growing up, my siblings and I never wore much makeup, and this seems to have trickled into my adult life. I really believe in the “less is more” approach. On a normal day at work, I use a NARS concealer, a few strokes of the Too Faced ‘Better than love’ mascara, and a touch of the NARS blush in ‘Impassioned’ to finish my look. I like to feel like my skin can breathe, so I don’t clog it with foundation on a regular day.

I’m really into the highlighting trend and, sometimes, I incorporate it into my daily routine by using a tiny bit of Becca’s liquid highlighter on the highest point of my cheeks. I love it as a little seems to go a long way! My makeup routine only changes if I attend a wedding or when it’s an occasion during which I can dress up and go all out – then I get my makeup done professionally.

I then put my clothes and abaya on a hanger and burn some homemade bukhoor, which is soaked in essential oils, musk, amber, and oud. Each Emirati household does it differently, depending on their preference. I love it as the smell lasts not just on my clothes, but around my room as well. As the aroma fills up the space around me, I feel relaxed because the scent is so familiar and comforting to me.

With scent being such a big part of our culture, I then spray myself with one of my Arcadia perfumes, and what I choose really depends on my mood that particular day. If I want something fresh, I would reach for the ‘Hassaku High’ scent, whereas I’ll opt for ‘Splinter’ if I want something a little more earthy and woody. Each perfume has a totally unique disposition.

Once I’m dressed, I spend the rest of my time before work with my kids. I make sure that they have had their breakfast and are dressed. I then have my much-anticipated cup of tea with some milk – a morning ritual that I need to start my day off right – and head to work around 7:45 a.m.

I love meeting people and asking them what their favorite scent is and why. I love to hear the story behind it.

I spend the 30 minutes that it takes to get to work listening to music. I usually have an old-school hip hop playlist that makes the morning traffic a little more bearable and breathes some energy into me! With work being so busy, I find myself multitasking a lot, so I’ll be having breakfast at my desk while going through the morning updates and answering e-mails. I have an actual organizer that I use for all my work-related matters, and I write down my thoughts and priorities in terms of daily issues. I do use Google ‘Calendar’ for meetings, but I much prefer to handwrite all my thoughts and ideas.

To create fragrances, in general, you need time and inspiration. I love meeting people and asking them what their favorite scent is and why. I love to hear the story behind it, and I pick up on all the subtle notes that are inspired by that scent. I have many scent stories written in several journals and scribbles in my organizer – whenever I am looking for inspiration, I just open up one of those and start creating.

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