North Africa — The Hammam Ritual
The Turkish steam bath known as a hammam was used by women to purify their bodies and bond with their female friends and family. Argan oil, treasured for its deeply nourishing properties, was the key ingredient in this regime. Today, argan oil, which is full of nutrients, antioxidants and natural healing properties, is a key ingredient in many hair products and is a wonder for nourishing damaged ends and adding super-high gloss.
Women of ancient Africa had access to natural botanical ingredients that are widely used in beauty products and skincare regimes to this day. Skincare rituals from across the continent remain a beautiful tradition in most countries.
Morroccanoil, with argan oil, is an ultra-light formula which is absorbed instantly by the hair, giving it a natural silky finish and brilliant shine. It restores overprocessed hair that has been damaged by chemical procedures and revives, hydrates and detangles hair, wigs and hair extensions. The product range includes shampoos and conditioners, scalp treatments, hair treatments and styling products. From R230 for 25ml Oil Treatment to R1 880 for the Moroccanoil Smoothing Bundle at Sorbet stores.
West and Central Africa — The African Black Soap Ritual
Shea butter originates from the karité nut tree in West and Central Africa. Not only is it a natural UV-protector and moisturiser, but it has been long proven to be beneficial for healthy skin and also has a history of medicinal use, including wound care and even as a treatment for leprosy. Shea butter is a key ingredient in African black soap, which is made by drying and roasting the leaves of sweet potato plants and cocoa pods and crushing them into a fine ash. Added to this are a few drops of shea butter, coconut oil and palm oil to create a soap with powerful exfoliating properties.
The concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids in shea butter make it incredibly nourishing for the skin, boosting its natural collagen production, which results in firmer, plumper, more youthful skin. For super-smooth and moisturised skin, try Nivea’s Irresistibly Smooth Body Cream with Shea Butter. R53 at Clicks and Dis-Chem.
Egypt — Milk, Honey and Salt
The Egyptian queen Cleopatra is renowned for apparently having milk and honey baths. Some of the enzymes in milk help skin regenerate fresh skin cells. Ancient Egyptian women also applied honey to their skin, along with oils, as part of their bathing rituals. Honey works to give the skin a beautiful glow and plump up fine lines. Cleopatra also recognised the benefits of adding dead sea salt into her bath, which is known to combat stress and ageing.
Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Enrich Emulsion features black bee propolis specially fermented for three days with seven days of maturation. This emulsion thoroughly penetrates the skin to maintain the oil-moisture balance. R500 for 160ml at takealot.com.
South Africa — Rooibos Tea
Known as African red tea, rooibos is a plant found exclusively in South Africa. The plant, which is known for its potent anti-allergenic properties, has been used by the Khoi and San people of South Africa for skincare for decades. Rooibos can treat skin conditions such as inflammation, rashes, acne, eczema and dermatitis. It is also a great cosmetic aid because it has a high concentration of antioxidants, which can protect the skin from free radicals and toxins, making it look young and supple. Rooibos also contains high levels of zinc and vitamin D2, which are important for healthy skin.
African Extracts Advantage Rejuvenating Eye Cream contains antioxidant-rich bio-active rooibos, sea fennel and buckwheat seed extracts, skin smoothing allantoin and light deflectors for a bright, youthful look. It diminishes the appearance of fine lines, reduces the visible appearance of dark circles and minimises under-eye puffiness. R173 at Clicks and Dis-Chem.
Madagascar — Marula Oil
Marula oil is harvested from the exotic fruit’s seed kernels. Marula trees are indigenous to Southern Africa and Madagascar. Marula oil has been part of numerous rituals for centuries to protect skin and hair from harsh and dry weather conditions. The oil contains powerful antioxidants, high concentrations of nutrients and essential fatty acids that boost cellular activity, hydrate deep into the skin’s layers and repair the skin.
Lulu & Marula Nourishing Treatment Oil is richly packed with essential fatty acids and vitamins that deeply hydrate and repair dry, mature, sensitive and damaged skin types. This nourishing treatment oil softens and smoothes the skin and protects against ageing. R449 at faithful-to-nature.co.za.
Africa — Lemons
Lemons were used by ancient Africans for all sorts of beauty treatments. To begin with, they extracted lemon juice and used it as a skin-lightening remedy on dark patches of their skin, mainly the elbows and knees. Additionally, lemon juice was used to whiten teeth and to give hair natural highlights. Due to their antibacterial properties, lemons were also used for facial cleansing and toning as well as to eliminate blackheads.
Garnier Even and Matte Ideal Complexion Daily Creams are specially developed for all different skin types to give you the best results. R35 at Clicks.