The South African Beauty Connection

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense

Some people collect cars, watches, handbags and art. My fragrance and vintage glass fetish aside, I can’t resist collecting ideas for a theme. As a Johannesburg-based blogger, this theme started out with a focus on top South African beauty/grooming products. It gradually morphed into something more fluid and fascinating the more research I did. I am hoping this round-up – the South African beauty connection – will intrigue and inform you too. Please let me know if I have left anything off this admittedly edited list.

The South African Beauty Connection

Olay 

Graham Wulff’s anti-ageing product has come a long way from its origins in the 1950s. The Durban-based, ex-Unilever chemist created Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid, using lanolin as one of its main ingredients. Such was its popularity that it found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.

“Olay found its place on vanity chests worldwide, back in the days when our mothers sat and groomed themselves.”

Fast-forward through changes in ownership, a change of name to Olay in 1999 and the brand is now one of American giant Procter & Gamble’s billion-dollar businesses. Mum’s little helper now includes everything from body and eye products to cleansers and moisturisers.

South African Beauty Connection - Olay

Maninka Fruit

I’d never heard of the maninka fruit before Boss The Scent was launched in 2015. I was reminded about this fruit, the heart of the fragrance, when Boss The Scent Intense was recently launched in South Africa. How could I forget with the wall-to-wall advertising that has accompanied this seduction EDP?

South African Beauty Connection - Maninka Fruit

NOT THE USUAL: Maninka fruit, a key ingredient in Boss The Scent and Boss The Scent Intense. Pic courtesy of P&G Prestige.

Anyway, what counts is that maninka comes from South Africa. And apparently Boss The Scent was the first time it had been used in a fragrance. According to a Basenotes interview with Will Andrews, scientist and senior evaluator at P&G Prestige,  maninka fruit (long used by the locals) was discovered by a team looking for unusual ingredients in the Western Cape’s fynbos region. The fruit itself comes from the Oncoba spinosa tree and was chosen for its “dried fruit” and “strawberries and chocolate” qualities.

South African Beauty Connection - Boss The Scent Intense EDP

While I can’t vouch for maninka’s supposed aphrodisiac qualities, I do appreciate a good back-story. The Scent itself? Maninka has been pumped to the max in Boss The Scent Intense. Leather, ginger, vanilla, lavender and cardamom notes all do their best to lend their notice-me-baby support.

Bio-Oil

German-born chemist, South-Africa-based Dieter Beier launched Bio-Oil in 1987. Little did he know that his cult product would become an international best-seller. Bio-Oil’s new owners, Justin and David Letschert, re-branded Beier’s dry-skin product as a treatment for scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone in the early 2000s.

South African Beauty Connection - Bio-Oil

Their big investment in marketing and international distribution has paid handsome dividends. The product is a skincare success across the globe. Bio-Oil celebrates 30 years in the beauty biz in September 2017, with new and sleeker packaging. But the formulation – PurCellin oil, vitamins A and E, calendula, rosemary, lavender and camomile oils – remains the same. Proof than even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.

“Even in our high-tech-obsessed world, you can’t beat simplicity.”

Mark Eisen

What do Dunhill Icon, Montblanc Emblem, Montblanc Lady Emblem and Shanghai Tang have in common? Their flacons (“bottle” sounds too common for these visual beauties) were designed by South Africa’s Mark Eisen.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Montblanc Lady Emblem

MARKSMANSHIP: Mark Eisen’s design for Montblanc Lady Emblem.

The Capetonian had a successful international career as a fashion designer from the late 1980s. He then turned his talents to industrial design, in particular fragrance bottle and wine bottle design.

I shamelessly used the South African connection to attempt to wangle an interview with Mr Eisen for this post, but he politely declined. So I will let his South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen flacon design work for Richemont’s luxury fragrance brands speak for itself.

(While I am on the South African beauty connection thing, Dunhill, Montblanc and Shanghai Tang are just some of the luxury brands owned by Richemont, the company founded by South Africa’s Rupert family.)

Exhibit A: Eisen’s cylindrical bottle, metal-encased design for Dunhill Icon. A powerfully functional and stylish statement for this scent that’s sure to become a modern classic. Dunhill Icon bagged the prestigious Fragrance Foundation Award for Best New Male Design & Packaging in 2016.

South African Beauty Connection - Mark Eisen For Dunhill Icon

Pelargoniums

Better known as South African/African geraniums, pelargoniums are mostly indigenous to South Africa. They are from the same family as geraniums but they are, in fact, very different plants. The scented varieties are an important part of the perfumer’s toolkit.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PERFUMER’S TOOLKIT: Pelargoniums are found in a variety of fragrances. Pic courtesy of www.perfect-pelargoniums.com.

I asked Cape Town-based natural perfumer Agata Karolina (House of Gozdawa) for some info on scented pelargoniums. This is what she had to say: “Pelargoniums are commercially farmed, but still in small amounts at this time. We source our pelargonium oil in the Western Cape from farmers we work closely with developing their crops especially for oil harvest. They hold all of the knowledge about the plants and their best conditions for growth. I bring my nose and knowledge of scent combination and complementary attributes of each plant’s characters.

South African Beauty Connection - Pelargoniums

PELARGONIUM PARFUM: House of Gozdawa Marta contains pelargonium oil.

“Pelargonium is less ‘rosy’ and has a far more green character to its scent. It smells like freshly cut lemongrass, lemon flesh, boiled candy sweets, rose leaves and earth.”

I spotted South African geranium as a key ingredient in Atelier Cologne Sanguine Orange. Superbly summery and uplifting, it’s the debut fragrance from the Paris-based niche fragrance company.

South African Beauty Connection - Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine

Perfluorodecalin

I was a dismal chemistry pupil, so I will keep this one as reader-friendly as possible. South African company Pelchem is the only Southern Hemisphere producer of perfluorodecalin, an active ingredient found in a wide variety of anti-ageing products.

South African Beauty Connection - Perfluorodecalin

ANTI-AGEING ACTIVE: A 3-D representation of the chemical compound perfluorodecalin. Pic courtesy of Wikipedia.

An article in the Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review yielded more insights. “The active ingredient is a fluorocarbon and derivative of decalin, which is used in cosmetics formulations to dissolve and deliver oxygen to the skin. Due to the ability of perfluorodecalin to dissolve oxygen and other gases, it revitalises skin and reduces wrinkles…” I love a good success story, so I’ll wave my small South African flag in recognition of Pelchem’s innovative and patented work.

PS: I have not included South Africa-born Etienne de Swardt, the founder of niche fragrance company Etat Libre d’Orange, in this round-up. You can read my interview with the maverick here: http://fragroom.com/2017/04/20/etat-libre-doranges-etienne-de-swardt/

 

PRODUCT REVIEW: LA PRAIRIE LINE INTERCEPTION POWER DUO

La Prairie Main Pic

The last time I did Botox was almost 10 years ago. I enjoyed the novelty of trying it out for myself. Partly for financial reasons, I didn’t continue doing the Botox thing and made peace with my wrinkles and lines. I liked to call it my “rugged” look.

Now, aged 47, while I am not keen on an expressionless look, I am all for aesthetic assistance in the form of a product or two to help smooth out the signs of ageing here and there. After all, there is a fine line between “rugged” and “ragged”.

Created as an alternative to treatments like Botox, La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo makes very assured promises that a journalist can’t resist putting to the test.

It claims to fight all types of wrinkles – expression lines, UV- and gravity-induced – with noticeable differences within just 14 days and 14 nights of use. This is largely achieved through a combination of powerful peptides and La Prairie’s Cellular Complex.

Oh, and did I mention the price? 5 900 bucks. If you’ve ever browsed the La Prairie counter at a swanky department store, you will know this Swiss brand is premium stuff. So no surprises that it comes with a super-luxe price tag.

I have been using La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo for a few weeks. As a 24-hour treatment, it’s to be used morning and night. It comes in a very impressive-looking, dual-barrel pump bottle – shiny silver for day, matte black for night.

La Prairie Second Pic

While my wrinkles have not been zapped into oblivion within 14 days (and I was not expecting any such miracle), I have noticed they are not as pronounced as they used to be. I also like to think that a colleague’s recent “vampire” comment/compliment regarding my age is a reflection of the efficacy of La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo.

I will definitely continue to use La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo until it runs out. And then it’s the stark reality of affordability for me.

La Prairie Line Interception Power Duo, R5 900 for 50ml, is available at Edgars stores nationwide.

PRODUCT REVIEW: LAB SERIES MAX LS POWER V LIFTING SERUM

 

Lab Series Main Pic Resize

I take great pleasure in “reading” packaging. In this case I am not talking about ingredients and instructions, although I enjoy reading those too. I am talking about the subtle and not-so-subtle messages conveyed through the choice of colours and containers for a product or range.

So where I am going with this? Well, with its super-slick and clinical packaging, Lab Series is a great case study for the messages it transmits. High-Tech + High-Performance (With A Price To Match).

Founded in 1987, the American brand (part of the Estee Lauder Companies group) comes with a highly effective reputation, so this Power V Lifting Serum (from its Max LS anti-ageing line) has been on my must-try radar for some time.

As a 40-something gent, I can do with all the help I can get in fighting the signs of facial ageing (yip, that means tell-tale wrinkles and skin not being as firm as it used to be).

Apart from Lab Series’ stellar reputation, I was expecting big things from this product, as it is a serum. Unlike standard creams and lotions, a serum is packed with more active ingredients and less fillers.

Lab Series Secondary Pic Resize

I have been using this product for well over a month now, morning and night. It gets a big thumbs up for delivering on two of its promises: a much-needed moisture boost and reducing the appearance of fine lines. It’s also easily absorbed and doesn’t leave a greasy film. While it’s a premium product, you also only need to use a little each time – another of the great benefits of using a serum.

I reckon I need to use it for longer to see more visible results on the other three promises: supports natural collagen, tightens the look of contours and lifts skin’s appearance for a more sculpted appearance. I will get back to you when I am looking more chiselled.

Either way, Lab Series Max LS Power V Lifting Serum provides top results in very sexy packaging.

Lab Series Max LS Power V Lifting Serum, R650 for 30ml, is available from Edgars stores nationwide.

MEN AGE BETTER THAN WOMEN AND 4 OTHER GROOMING MYTHS

Like nutrition and health, the world of grooming is riddled with myths, fictions and half-truths. These are some of the most common myths:

MEN AGE BETTER THAN WOMEN
Wishful thinking, guys. This may be the case in our 20s when shaving helps remove dead skin cells and stimulate cell renewal. Unfortunately, this all changes in our 30s when the realities of ageing are all too visible.

Dermalogica’s national training manager Diana van Sittert says: “After hitting 30 is where all the male ageing concerns start! Using incorrect shaving mediums, such as shaving foam that dehydrates the skin, eventually starts catching up with you, as the skin is not as able to protect itself. The skin needs more hydration after 30 and if the incorrect shaving mediums are not addressed, the skin starts showing the signs of premature ageing.”

So what’s the solution? “Stop using shaving mediums that leave you with a tight feeling immediately. Use an oil- or gel-based medium with skin hydration and protection benefits,” Diana says.

MEN CAN USE THEIR PARTNER’S HAIRCARE PRODUCTS
To quote most men: “I use whatever the wife buys.” Besides delegating the adventure of the male grooming world to the woman in your life, there are some things you need to know, according to award-winning hairstylist Arion Bezuidenhout.

“Professional male haircare products are jam-packed with active ingredients, fragrances and amino acids to suit your hair and scalp environment. Hair technology for men is different to women. As we have bigger pores, sweat glands and more testosterone, we secrete more sebum. Male haircare is therefore slightly stronger to help us manage the effects of these elements,” he says.

ALWAYS SHAVE AGAINST THE GRAIN
A lot of us still get this one wrong, with painful and unsightly results. You should always shave with the grain. “Shaving against the grain can cause in-grown hairs, razor burn, risk of cutting raised follicles, etc. If you want a closer shave, first shave with the grain, rinse, lather up again and then shave across the grain,” says Glen Summers, Sorbet Man’s educator and training manager.

APPLY YOUR FRAGRANCE BY WALKING THROUGH A SPRAYED MIST
This is a great way to watch your hard-earned cash literally fall to the ground. The best way to apply a fragrance is on your pulse points, that is, your lower jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, inner elbows, wrists, forearms and inner elbows. These pulse points are the warmest parts of your body and the heat will activate the fragrance. Choose two of these pulse points when applying your fragrance. Less is more. Trust me.

A FANCY TOOTHBRUSH WORKS BEST
It’s not what you brush your teeth with, it’s how you brush your teeth, so any toothbrush works, says my trusted oral hygienist. “It’s the action of the toothbrush that removes the sticky plaque. Your teeth have four surfaces – outside, inside, left and right – so make sure you clean all of these.” Plus you only need a pea-size amount of toothpaste, not a whole tube, to help do the job.