My Top Cosmetics From Africa
Skincare for a 30-year-old is no longer a laughing matter. First, you get wrinkles, then some strange dark circles under the eyes (I slept 8 hours and didn’t go out partying, so how did this happen?), discoloration from the sun, and so on. As it is commonly known, well-chosen cosmetics can be a secret weapon against these types of “ailments”, ensuring proper care and anti-aging prophylaxis.
When I moved to South Africa, I took some of my favorite cosmetics with me, including SPF50 face cream from Pharmaceris, Tołpa face cream for over the 30s, and a moisturizing serum with almond acid from Bielenda. All of these brands are well-known Polish companies. I guess I’m just a cosmetic patriot. Unfortunately, my supplies ran out quickly and I had to set out to look for my new favorite products.
At Clicks, which is a popular cosmetic shop in South Africa I found the Iwori Beauty of Africa brand. At first, I tried a rooibos-based face mask. I knew absolutely nothing about this plant except that I drank tea from its leaves from time to time. To find out more, I took a special trip to the Cederberg region, where rooibos comes from. Side note, I had a narrow “escape” from leopards. But I’ll write about that another time.
The 200-year-old town of Clanwilliam, nestled among rocky mountains, is known as the center of rooibos. At the “House of Rooibos” I had a “tea tasting” although …… it isn’t tea. This inconspicuous shrub belongs to the legume family. It does not contain caffeine, so you can drink as much as you want of it, even before going to bed. Thanks to antioxidants, flavonoids, minerals (zinc), and vitamin D, it is used in skincare cosmetics (especially for sensitive skin) and anti-wrinkle cosmetics.
Getting back to the Iwori brand, the face mask is made from natural red kaolin clay and rooibos extract. The manufacturer assures that it is a gentle facial detox ritual that helps to cleanse and soften the skin while deeply cleansing, and removing dead skin cells and traces of impurities. So far, this is my favorite mask. I may look peculiar when I apply it but right after washing, my pores are narrowed and my skin is cleansed and more radiant.
This mask prompted me to research other ingredients that can be found in Iwori products. The main ones are marula, mongongo, baobab and rooibos.
Marula is a green, deciduous tree. It is drought-resistant and well-adapted to the harsh African climate. The female trees bear fruit and the male ones bear flowers. The fruit is also used to make beer and liqueur, and the great harvests in February and March are also a time for festivals in honor of the “food of the gods” and quality control of said alcohol. Even elephants treat marula fruit as a treat. Locals say they get ‘drunk’ on fermented fruit, but this is quite controversial and scientifically unproven.
There are many legends associated with the marula tree. The tree is considered sacred. Many rituals are performed underneath it. More legends here.
Marula tree oil contains, among others, moisturizing antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins E and C (the fruit contains 3-4 times more of the latter than an orange), which strongly moisturize and protect the skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. Therefore, this oil has been used for generations by women of the Tsonga tribe, originally from northern Namibia. And this is probably one of the secrets of their wrinkle-free skin. The Iwori mask additionally includes bits of natural red clay, which is used by South African women from the Xkosa tribe for protection against the sun and as makeup.
The Iwori hair mask with mongongo oil, shea butter, and argan oil works miracles instantly moisturizing your hair. It worked for me after the summer when my scalp was extremely dry. Mongongo trees grow in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia, among others. They are extremely valuable to the natives. Nutritious seeds and nuts were the basis of their daily diets for over 7,000 years, and the oil is used for both cooking and making cosmetics. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and Omega 6, as well as copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, it works great against the harsh, desert climate.
The baobab does not need any introduction. The tree is called the symbol of life because each part of it is utilized by various creatures for either shelter or food. The fruits and seeds of baobabs are a real nutrition bomb. They contain, among others, vitamins C, A, B1, B2, and B6 as well as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. It is therefore natural that from the seeds of baobab oil also omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids became the beauty secret of African women. The oil absorbs very well and doesn’t (at least for me) weigh the hair down. It is also useful for preventing wrinkles, as it stimulates collagen production in the skin. I used baobab extract under my eyes and night cream for a while and my skin was very well moisturized.
However, I like to change cosmetics so now I am testing another brand popular in South Africa, which I will write about later. However, I still stay loyal to the Rooibos shampoo and conditioner (which makes hair grow faster) and apply a baobab seed extract hair mask once a week. Thanks to this, my hair is in really great condition.
Iwori cares not only for the skin but also for the planet. Most of the packaging is recyclable. Their products are vegan-friendly and not tested on animals. The peeling particles are made of natural ingredients that are not harmful to the ocean. They use biodegradable foaming agents in their washing products. By purchasing oils and extracts from selected suppliers, we support local communities in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa. For more information, visit http://www.iworibeauty.com/community-commerce/.
Sorbet is another interesting brand in the South African market. Its selection includes a whole range of products, from make-up (a great eye concealer) to cosmetics. It even has a network of beauty salons. Their products are available in drugstores across the country and in dedicated stores of this brand.
At the moment I use Age Affect day and night creams and I have to say that these are some of the best creams I have used so far. The cream contains Matrixyl® Synths’6 Peptide, coenzyme Q10, and a set of vitamins A, C, and E, which is a magical mixture that instantly makes my skin firm. The only downside is the SPF15 cream for the day. This is hardly enough for African conditions.
I am also addicted to this brand’s shower products. The scents are heavenly. My favorite is the pink pomegranate, green tea, and currant scented shower gel and scrub. Yum … A close second is the purple gel, with argan oil and dragon fruit. After using this peeling, you don’t even need to use lotion. Your skin is perfectly moisturized.
A client once asked me “Ms. Monika what do you do with your nails?” This isn’t a big issue here. The Sorbet brand has got you covered. You can find beauticians and manicurists in the salons where cosmetics are sold. The standard price for removing and applying hybrid nail polish is approximately R390 (about PLN 85). The price is the same for both hands and feet.
Apart from manicures and pedicures, the salons offer all other “basic” treatments: massages, waxing, eyebrow and eyelash henna, make-up, etc. so you can always stop for a quick visit while out shopping.
Although cosmetic procedures are not the main goal while on vacation, I recommend that you bring home a few cosmetics from here, which you probably can’t get in Poland. The Rooibos mask won’t take up much space in your luggage, and upon arrival, you can apply the red mixture on your face, pour yourself a nice glass of wine (obviously a South African one), and reminisce about your time spent at the edge of Africa.