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I have always found Africa fascinating. Especially the gorgeousness of African women leaves me in awe sometimes. The more I thought about the beauty of these women the more I became eager to find out what their beauty secret was. How do they maintain their clear skin? Why do they not have any wrinkles and a radiant complexion? I quickly came to the conclusion that it must be their beauty habits, their rituals and the local beauty ingredients: the oils, nuts and other natural elements from African plants and trees that locals are using traditionally. To find out, I took a closer look at some of the African beauty secrets and summarised my favourite seven:
1. African Beauty Secrets: Mongongo Nuts
The oil of the mongongo nuts growing on trees in the zambezi river valley is very precious and useful for many purposes. Because it contains a lot of Vitamin E and C, it helps to soften, moisturise and repair skin damage and frizzy hair. Other important compounds can even enhance the function of the immune system. The oil from the nuts has been traditionally used as a hair oil and as a body rub in the dry winter months.
2. African Beauty Secrets: Argan Oil
As mentioned in our recent article, argan oil is a true wonder weapon regarding skincare. Produced by Berber women in Morocco, argan oil functions miraculously both as a moisturiser and as sun protection. Polyphene, one of its important compounds, helps to fight allergies. The oil can also calm the skin and fight acne. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids. The many anti-oxidants make it a natural anti-ageing product.
3. African Beauty Secrets: Shea Butter
Shea butter is extracted from the nut of the African Shea tree, which grows in West and Central Africa. The local communities have long used ivory-coloured butter in cooking oils and natural beauty products. Now it serves as a treatment for wrinkles, blemishes and minor burns. It works great as a moisturiser, because the butter has several compounds that reduce inflammation and acids that prevent wrinkles. Due to this natural cosmetic brands such as Dr. Hauschka are making use of shea butter in their formulas. Sometimes, a mix of Shea butter and other oils also serves as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate. There is a noticeable difference in taste though.
4. African Beauty Secrets: Kalahari Melon Seeds Oil
The Kalahari desert in South Africa is home of the Kalahari watermelon. Although this melon is the biological ancestor of the common watermelon you can find worldwide, the Kalahari melon tastes rather bitter and its flesh is pale yellow or green instead of the bright red we associate with watermelons. Actually what is truly precious about the melon is the oil you can produce out of the seeds. They contain linoleic, oleic and palmitic essential fatty acids that help the skin retain moisture. The melons even served desert people as a source for water. Due to its highly nurturing components, it is said that bushmen could survive for six weeks in the desert on these watermelons alone. I am not sure whether I would want to try that, but I would definitely try the oil as a beauty product. A true wonder fruit!
5. African Beauty Secrets: Marula Oil
The Marula Oil is hand-harvested by women in village collectives from the exotic fruit’s seed kernels of Marula trees, indigenous to Southern Africa and Madagascar. Due to the low rainfall and bright sunshine in this area the trees face perfect conditions to grow their annual fruit. This fruit contains four times as much Vitamin C as an orange. This alone is a true vitamin bomb. Its healing features promise many medicinal benefits. It has been part of numerous beauty rituals for centuries to protect the skin and hair from the harsh and dry weather conditions. The oil contains powerful antioxidants, high concentrations of nutrients and essential fatty acids that protect against environmental aggressors, help reverse photo-damage, boost cellular activity, hydrate at the deepest levels and repair the skin. Fun fact: The fruit is also used to make beer and liqueur.
6. African Beauty Secrets: Rooibos
Rooibos, which means “red bush” in Afrikaans, is a shrub native to South Africa. Of course, you all know Rooibos as a sort of tea. This is what it is traditionally consumed as. But the tea is also a part of traditional South African medicine. With alpha hydroxyl acid and zinc, it is great for treating sunburn, acne, eczema and other types of skin damage. Possessing these properties, it is a perfect boost for your beauty. I would recommend to wash away the day with a rooibos cleanser and then follow with a large cup of organic rooibos tea.
7. African Beauty Secrets: Macadamia Nut Oil
Some refer to macadamia as the “queen of the nuts“ due to its many health and beauty benefits. The biggest export country at this time is Kenya, even though the macadamia trees originally comes from Australia. You may be familiar with the rich flavour and the high nutrients of macadamia nuts. However, what’s even more valuable is the macadamia nut oil that can be extracted. It helps soothing the skin and promotes anti-ageing effects. Additionally, it does good to your heart, has antioxidant potential and is very good for your eyes. The oil can help to increase the shine of your hair and even decrease hair loss.
To ensure fair production conditions, Dr. Hauschka is working with the organisation LIMBUA to support the local farmers. After the nuts are delivered to Germany and processed to oil, it is added to the formula of different beauty products from Dr. Hauschka, making the experience even more precious.
Now that you know some of the best African beauty secrets, you should try some of the ingredients for yourself. With some of them you can mix some great skin or hair treatments yourself – check out these Argan Oil DIY ideas for example. Still: Do not forget that no beauty product in the world makes you glow as much as your own happiness and a smile on your lips 🙂
© All photos via Nina Pfuderer