There’s a lot of pressure on women to take care of themselves, and to look young and gorgeous forever. That’s not to say there isn’t pressure on men to look good, but I think the point where its ok to look your age is a lot older for women than for men. A lot of people rely really heavily on makeup to achieve this, but from my experience makeup can be quite psychologically damaging.
I used to wear makeup almost every day for most of my time at university and even more so when I was working in Taiwan, and I got so used to seeing myself in makeup that I grew to hate how I looked without it. Even worse, I started to assume that everyone else would think I was hideous without makeup on, even to the point where if I needed to go downstairs to meet the pizza delivery guy, I would put on mascara… I know. So when I got back to South Africa, I decided I needed to fix this, and I stopped wearing makeup unless I felt I really needed to look fancy. While it did help me to get used to my normal face again, for a long time I really struggled with my skin, because I wasn’t used to only relying on my moisturiser for hydration, and I couldn’t just hide my imperfections with concealer. For the first time in a long time, I really needed to sit down and think about what skin care products I used.
Now, my skin is whack… Anyone with ‘combination’ skin will hopefully know what I’m talking about here. I can have blackheads on my nose and cheeks, at the same time that the skin on my chin is literally flaking off with dryness. I hate trying to juggle dry and oily on a daily basis, and most combination moisturisers don’t really get the balance quite right. But I’ve always been a very clean person. I like to think of myself as well put together. I wash my hair every day, I wash my face twice a day, I use antiperspirant because I hate sweat patches, I moisturise head to toe every morning. When I was teaching, I washed my hands about five times a day, not counting after going to the bathroom. I’m far from being a germophobe, but being and looking clean are really important to me. When I stopped wearing makeup it became even more important.
As I was shopping around for products and trying a bunch of different brands, a friend of mine told me about an app called Bunny Free, which you can use to check if a brand is cruelty free or not. I thought this sounded great and immediately installed it on my phone and took it shopping. It got pretty depressing after a while, though, because just about every single product I had used in the past turned out to not be cruelty free, mainly because they belong to mega umbrella companies like Unilever. In these situations, even products which haven’t been directly tested on animals can use ingredients which were tested on animals by other brands owned by Unilever. It all gets really complicated
(EDIT: Since initially writing this, I have read an article that Unilever is aiming to be cruelty free by 2019. This means that brands such as Vaseline, Dove, Sunsilk, Lux, Ponds and TRESemmé will all have the leaping bunny symbol on them. However, I would still prefer to support smaller companies, and especially local ones.)
From there I turned to the trusty internet to try to find brands which were a) Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) endorsed and b) available in South Africa. I found a dozen or so really good and thorough blogs, like Alien on Toast, which is UK based, and My Beauty Bunny, which is based in the US, and the BWC official website has an online store which doesn’t even offer shipping as far as Canada, let alone to the other end of the world. When I did find brands that were available (or made) in South Africa, a lot of them are REALLY expensive, because they are imported, or made by a small independent company, or use organic ethically sourced fair trade vegan ingredients which can’t be bought in bulk and therefore cost the company a fortune. This all meant it took me a lot longer to switch to BWC products than I had hoped, and I spent a lot of time standing in aisles reading the labels of every product. But it also meant I was often pleasantly surprised, and I learned about a lot of BWC brands that I either hadn’t heard of before, or that I hadn’t realised were BWC approved.
Unicorn Cafe works with BWC SA and has an online store of BWC approved products ranging in price, but tending towards the more expensive end of the scale.
Palmers is an Australian brand which can be purchased in DisChem. My experience has been that their products are quite affordable, but I haven’t tried very many things.
Hey Gorgeous is a South African brand with stores in Cape Town and Durban, and Namibia, but you can order online. Their products are quite expensive, but they are also vegan and organic, so they cater to a lot of needs.
Good Stuff is also a South African brand which is (mostly) vegan and BWC certified, available at Pick n Pay and DisChem. Everything of theirs is very affordable, but only make a limited selection of products.
Oh So Heavenly is from South Africa (exclusive to Clicks), but is available in Croatia, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and the UAE. Affordability is a big part of their marketing and they make a full range of products from deodorant to bubble bath.
The Body Shop, is a UK based company. They are fair trade, BWC certified, eco-friendly and socially aware, but have recently come under fire because they are now owned by L’Oreal, who are not any of those things… It’s up to you to decide how strict you want to be. On one hand: supporting The Body Shop, does indirectly support L’Oreal who are not BWC approved, but buying from The Body Shop also helps to increase demand for BWC approved products and may encourage L’Oreal to expand that mindset to their other products! I have stopped using their products, because there are other options available, but many of their products are very good and I know a lot of people who have continued to shop there because of the quality assurance.
Africa Organics, is also South African, and also which is vegan and organic, but they don’t make any face care products. Items range in price from moderate to expensive, but they are incredibly honest about the ingredients they use, which I really appreciate.
African Extracts Rooibos range is all vegetarian (some products are vegan, check the packaging), organic and endorsed by BWC. They also only use natural exfoliators like tea leaves and apricot seeds. The products are generally affordable (some items are moderately expensive), which is part of their mission statement, and they offer a full range of face, body and hair care.
My boyfriend and I have been slowly working my way through the above brands, trying out as many different products as possible, which I have put into a nice table for you below. I’m somewhat a creature of habit, and when I find a product that works I like to stick with it as long as possible, but we will keep building the list over time.
|Product||Affordability (out of 5)||Comments|
|Good Stuff Bee Natural body lotion||5||
Rich and creamy.
|Good Stuff Bee Natural hand wash||5||Nice scent.
Doesn’t over dry my skin
|Hey Gorgeous Mattifying Moisturiser||2||Didn’t help with oil control.
Not too heavy.
Good day cream.
|Hey Gorgeous Radiance Moisturiser||2||Smells like dessert.
Light and nourishing.
Good for day and night.
|HG for Bros charcoal exfoliator||3||A very intense scrub.
Cleansing and moisturising.
One jar lasts a long time.
|HG for Bros Legendary Age Defying Moisturiser||2||Light.
Good for day and night.
|Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-imperfection night mask||4||Too heavy and rich for me.
The jar lasted a long time.
|Body Shop Tea Tree Facial Wash||4||Good oil control.
Removes makeup effectively.
|Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky Clean scrub||3||Great daily exfoliator, not too harsh.
Removes makeup (not around eyes)
|Body Shop Tea Tree Wash-Scrub-Mask||4||Leaves skin feeling clean and fresh.
A small amount goes a long way. Intensive and cleansing.
|Body Shop Tea Tree Anti-imperfection daily solution||2||Didn’t improve my skin condition. Seemed to cause breakouts.
A small amount goes a long way.
|Body Shop Green Tea exfoliating hair mask||4||Exfoliates scalp and washes hair, Lathers well,
Doesn’t dry out your scalp or hair.
|Palmers Aloe Vera gel||5||Good for intensive moisturising, sunburn, burns and abrasions, eczema etc.
|Africa Organics Marula shower gel||2||Lathers well.
Doesn’t dry out your skin.
|African Extracts Rooibos exfoliating facial wash||4||Exfoliating particles are a little too sparse.
Removes makeup effectively.
Doesn’t dry skin.
|African Extracts Rooibos purifying facial wash||4||Lathers well.
Removes makeup effectively.
|Oh So Heavenly roll on deodorant||5||Wide range of fragrances.
Doesn’t leave residue or marks.