Beauty lessons from Africa
Is it possible to bottle Africa's ancient wisdom and export it to our bathrooms?
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Published: 27 October 2017
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
This article appears in the autumn issue of MyGreenPod.com Magazine, distributed with the Guardian on 27 October 2017. Click here to read the full digital issue online
From humble beginnings in a Johannesburg kitchen, Africology – the luxury skincare brand inspired by the wisdom of Africa’s traditional healers, vibrant heritage and indigenous plants – is highly respected by natural beauty aficionados all round the world.
‘African healing has existed for centuries’, says Taryn Rule, UK distributor of Africology skincare products. ‘It considers the physical, psychological, spiritual and social elements of individuals, families and communities. It’s a holistic approach that’s interwoven with religious and cultural beliefs.’
The use and prescription of native medicinal plants is an essential part of traditional African healthcare; in many rural parts of Africa they’re the most easily accessible and affordable – and sometimes the only – health resource available.
‘It’s estimated that up to 80% of South Africa’s population uses traditional ancestral medicine and treatments for their primary healthcare’, Taryn tells us. ‘However, it’s not as commercially known as other ancient ancestral healing techniques like yoga, massage, meditation and acupuncture, which are increasingly accepted in modern society. The traditional healing practices of Africa are often seen as comparable with voodoo or witchdoctor practices.’
PLANTS AS MEDICINE
Through extensive research, underpinned by a passion for wellness and healing, Africology harnesses the power of native plants and herbs that are beneficial to the skin, body and mind as a whole.
These amazing ingredients are enhanced with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that have the same structure as certain cells within the body and skin, so they’re easily recognised, absorbed and processed. The result is a range of products that indulge the senses and work actively on the skin, with effective results.
‘Ingredients sourced directly from Nature, such as botanical extracts, essential oils and plant-derived oils, are incredibly beneficial to the skin and make a significant difference to its condition’, Taryn tells us. ‘We use sustainably sourced African ingredients straight from Nature, including rooibos, aloe ferox, marula and, rather unusually, African potato.’
Africology’s best-selling products are its serums (pictured below); prices start at £22 – for the Aloe Ferox Serum, Balancing Serum, Skin Hydrating Oil and Vitamin Skin Booster Serum – to £43 for the Renewing Facial Therapy, which actively protects against external elements while restoring moisture and firmness. Other key sellers include Hand Wash (£20), Body Wash (£23), Marula Conditioning Body Oil (£22) and versatile body balms (£18-£29) that can even be melted in an aromatherapy burner.
In Africa, there’s a philosophy of Ubuntu – ‘I am because of you’. It advocates humane acts to others and to Nature in general, and enshrines the concepts of interconnectedness, community and communal caring for all. With acceptance and a feeling of being part of a community come great healing powers, not only to the body but to the mind, too.
‘Africology believes that great products can only go so far towards creating radiance’, Taryn tells us, ‘but by respecting the individual, the planet and animals, we can create something truly special.’
Africa’s beauty secrets
Full of sterols and sterolins, which help to treat acne, eczema and psoriasis.
It helps boost the immune system and has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Native to southern Africa, aloe ferox leaves contain a gel with a variety of uses, including calming, soothing and hydrating sunburnt, irritated and sensitised skin.
Rich in nutritional and healing compounds and minerals, amino acids, lipids, monosaccharides, phytosterols, vitamins E, B and C and zinc. Stimulates cell regeneration and helps replenish lost moisture.
Naturally contains alpha-hydroxy acid, a compound that’s beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It’s rich in iron, potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc and sodium.
A potent antioxidant, with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It’s useful in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema and acne.
MARULA SEED OIL
Known as ‘miracle oil’, marula is considered one of Africa’s botanical gems.
Rich in antioxidants including vitamins C and E, it helps protect against free radical damage and promotes the production of collagen and elastin.
Marula seed oil contains high levels of essential fatty acids that help to nourish the skin, reduce redness and hydrate by preventing trans-epidermal water loss.