Cape Town #DayZero water-saving beauty tips: AKA How to not look and smell like a swamp donkey when we run out of water

Guys, I don’t know about you but this #DayZero thing’s got me scared. Yes, I know that I’m a privileged asshole who’s enjoyed running water all her life while much our country’s poor has queued to get it for decades. I get that. But I’m still freaking out. And a lot of it has to do with the lack of information we’ve been given. We’re told that by the end of April it’s ‘likely’ our taps will be switched off and we’ll have to queue for 25L a day. But where are the collection points? How will it be controlled?

Anyway, all that aside, I’ve done a lot of thinking as to how I’ll manage to look mooi in the last few weeks before I flee to a water-rich country. Because obviously that’s the most important thing, right? Schools are shutting down. People are losing their livelihoods. But a girl’s still gotta look good in her Skype job interviews should she decide to flee to Dubai, ironically a giant desert where you can still take a bath. Also, as a single lady, I don’t want to look (and smell) vile should I find myself spending three hours next to a hottie (preferably with a foreign passport) while queueing for my daily water ration.

Any takers?

So! Let’s get stuck in!

First things first you’ll want to buy back up water starting now. Initially, any water collection points might be chaos and unless you want to sponge bath with Coke Zero during the ‘settling phase’ it’s best to have a stash. Don’t be that doos who fills up 5L bottles using what’s currently on tap. You’ll only bring Day Zero forward. Instead, hit up a Makro where you can get 20L of Aquelle (they sell them in bulk as 4 x 5L) for R63. I’m aware that 5L water bottles are sold out just about everywhere right now but I see Makro Ottery still has stock. Also, if your time is precious and you’ve got the cash, think about buying 15 days worth of water per month. This means you’ll only have to queue for your ration every second day as opposed to every day.

If you’re like me, and have baby fine hair that gets dirty and limp super fast then dry shampoo is your friend. I literally wash my hair every single day, but if I use dry shampoo on the roots I can get away with washing every second day, provided I tie my hair up. Being a beauty blogger I’ve tested loads of brands and consider Batiste the best of the bunch.

It’s also one of the cheaper and ones and, TODAY ONLY, it’s even less as it’s 20% off at Clicks. Run girls, run!

When you really do need to wash your hair one of the easiest ways to do it will be kneeling in the bath with a bucket and cup. (I say bath and not shower as the bath will allow you to save your dirty water and use it for other things.) Alternatively, you can get all fancy and order a camping shower for about R150. They were selling them on Takealot but I see they’ve just sold out. But just google camping shower and you’ll find them if you move fast.

If it’s sunny, you can leave the bag in the sun to heat it up. If it’s not, you can boil some water in a kettle.

You can make your water ration stretch further by using a 2-in-1 shampoo. This means you only have to rinse it once, not twice. If you’ve got a drier hair type that can’t really get away with the gentle conditioning served up by a 2-in-1 then apply your conditioner in spray format. This is what I’ll be doing – using my regular shampoo to wash and then reaching for a leave-in spray conditioner. My favourite is Gliss Total Repair which I can’t find online right now so here’s hoping it’s not discontinued.

As far as cleansing goes, wet wipes are your new bestie. BUT you need to be very, very careful. Many of the ‘beauty brand’ options made especially for your face contain alcohol as well fragrance. (Just read the ingredients list. You’ll be surprised.) If you’ve got sensitive skin or are relying on them heavily the the boozey, nice-smelling options are going to dry out your skin and possibly even disrupt its barrier function – the gateway to sexy shizz like rosacea and eczema. Thus, my recommendation is that you rather buy baby wipes, NOT fancy facial ones. They’re sold in larger packs so it’ll cost less per wipe. While most baby wipes are alcohol-free many are perfumed so be sure to pick the most cost-effective fragrance-free brand you can find and stock up. Even if we don’t end up in a Mad Max scenario you’ll still find them useful so they’ll never go to waste.

3 x 288 packs of these guys are R326,98 at Makro. That’s R108,98 per unit.

Also, ladies, DO NOT USE FRAGRANCED WIPES ON YOUR HOO HA! Be they made ‘especially for baby’ or listed as ‘for sensitive skin’, double check to ensure they don’t contain fragrance. If not, you will likely get thrush. It will not be fun. How are you going make babies with the aforementioned hot water queue boy if your vagina is broken? Listen to me, okay? I’m old and clever. I know things.

While you can use the right type of wet wipes on your body as well as your face there are other ways to cleanse the latter that don’t involve H20 and one of them is micellar water. Unlike ‘regular’ make-up remover or face wash, micellar water can be swiped all off your skin (using a cotton pad) to lift away dirt and oil and doesn’t require any rinsing. My favourite micellar water is Bioderma’s Hydrobio (mostly because I’ve used it for years and am nostalgic about it) but now that I may have to save my pennies to flee I’ll be switching to Garnier’s version which is about R30 for 125ml.

For the record, it’s still the cheapest when you compare it per ml to other brands sold in larger bottles.

I’ve read online about people ‘dry bathing’, using things like bicarbonate of soda as well as slapping it under their arms or using rock crystal deodorant in place of regular antiperspirants and what not but this doesn’t make sense to me. We have wet wipes (for now) and we’re running out of water, not deodorant. My Sanex roll-on works just fine, thanks.

Germ-wise, we’re being advised to invest in lots of hand sanitizer and that’s great. A heightened awareness of germs is imperative in a world where we’re suddenly carrying Tupperwares of our own pooh to our friendly neighbourhood porta-loo. Still, these contain loads of alcohol and overuse will dry out your hands so be sure to invest in a good reparative hand cream.

Eucerin Intensive hand cream with 5% urea, R109, Dis-Chem.

Alternatively, you could use something like Thursday Plantation Tea Tree lotion (R126,95, Dis-Chem) which will hydrate and, thanks to naturally antibacterial tea tree, it’ll blitz germs too. But probably not as well as hand sanitiser and then you might die from cholera. And guess what your family will have to put on your coffin? Silk fucking flowers. Sies! For this reason alone I refuse to die during a drought.

Anyway, this has been rather terrifying to write so I’m off to down a beer. Possibly a stupid move because a) it’s 10am and b) I should probably stash it as I may have to wash my hair with it at some point.

If you’ve got any beauty related water saving tips to share please leave them in the comments section below. Also, are you as nervy as I am?

Love, love


43 thoughts on “Cape Town #DayZero water-saving beauty tips: AKA How to not look and smell like a swamp donkey when we run out of water

  1. I am super freaked out by all the no-water drama, but thanks for all the tips and a lekker laugh besides.
    Good luck finding your foreign boytjie!

  2. Yeah. Ditto. Super freaked out. And particularly because if there’s no water there won’t be work for me … so I’d have to go back home to Namibia. Which, ironically, is also a desert that has water and built desalination plants like a 100 years ago (ok, very simple basic ones at first, but they’ve progressed) … Thanks for the tips Leigh. Think I’m gonna start using some of these NOW to prevent Day Zero from happening in the first place (which, apparently, won’t happen IF we save more now).

  3. HAHA! Ah this gave me a good few giggles.

    Another tip – Dischem actually have some travel sized bottle of a dry body wash. It comes out as foam and kills germs and odour apparently. I’ve tried the men’s one when we had no water here in Durban, it wasn’t OVERLY fragranced, and while it’ll never be as good as a shower, it did the job. BUT you need to moisturise afterwards, as it will most definitely contain alcohol!

  4. I am freaked out by a million things to do with this water crisis and have already been stocking up on most of your recommendations for the last few weeks.

    With my gym activities I have been washing my hair everyday which will end come “day zero” , but dry shampoo poses a conundrum for me, I am a naturally curly haired gal and brushing through the dry shampoo is going to ruin my hairstyle. What is your suggestion?

    I am thinking surgical gloves to save us from all the future diseases. I don’t think it’s going to help with the borehole boy/”Love in the time of Cholera” though…

    1. Oooh gosh, no advice on keeping the curls, sadly. Maybe spritz just a little and use your fingers to shake it through the roots without brushing all the way down? Worst case scenario you can brush it though and then stick your hair up in a bun. I LOVE ‘borehole boy’ and ‘love in the time of cholera’, by the way. Your comment’s made my day 😉

      1. Thanks, I may try that. Come “day zero”, I am sure I will become an expert in figuring something out for my curly hair, I am even thinking of a drastic haircut (it is currently mid-back with blue ends).

        Hah! I am so pleased!;-) I am having a crappy (pun!!!!) and hectic Monday. This whole weekend I was planning for “day zero” and thinking of ways to avoid cholera and misery and you are thinking of romance. You are awesome! I should think of ways to find a borehole boy myself!

      2. If you spray the dry shampoo in before you go to bed, it absorbs the grease and won’t need combing through come the morning.

    2. I too have the curly curls and pretty much never brush my hair – I’ve been using dry shampoo by spraying it in and then gently massaging the roots to settle the powder. Seems to work a charm 🙂

  5. Loved this post Leigh! Perhaps PR should include a 5L bottle of water in the goodie bags from now on. Who needs another face wash, when you can’t rinse! ;P

    Also, you are always welcome in Joburg. We have a bit more water.

    1. Make it 25L and I’ll serve up a banner ad on my site ;-P And be careful what you wish for. You’ll come home and find me shaving me legs in your tub!

  6. Love ur post. Hate to be “that” person, but wet wipes are the worse! It’s not biodegradable and is known for clogging sewers. “Not your problem” – I know, but it’s definitely no shits (pun intended) and giggles when a drain gets blocked. It contains synthetic fibres to increase softness and durability. My hubby used to freak out when I used them, and I was typically only using them “in emergencies e.g camping”. Until we had to dug up a longdrop at a private camping site… For the first time I witnessed it myself, in 2 years all the other shit had started decomposing except the wet wipes! Anycase, go Google it. (PS: no, I’m not a vegan or a hippie, just realistic) 🙂

    1. No, I hear you. I’ll do more research on it and am fully prepared to toss them in a bag and gooi it on the braai once a week if I have to. Thanks a mil for the comment. It’s important x x

      1. also choking on the wet wipes. Burning them is out of sight out of mind. But burning plastic and then the pollution is in the air you breathe.

        I am learning that my formerly greasy hair has and can adjust to washing on a much longer schedule. 10 days and counting. Well brushed from the roots every day.

        If we reduce our daily consumption we can still hope to push day zero out. If.

      1. Thanks for the heads up! I was in Babies R Us yesterday and couldn’t find anyone so it’s good to know Baby City has stock. Do you remember the brand name?

    2. Pure beginnings make a range of wet wipes that are biodegradable (they say that they will break down in your garden) and contains no chemicals so not bad for your skin.
      NO wet wipes should be flushed even if they say that they can be as they will blocked your system eventually.

  7. Yoh, at least your post is a giggle along with good advice, thanks!
    I’m stockpiling water every time my privileged ass goes to the supermarket. I’ve cut down one showering, and bought a 9 liter water heater from takealot to use to wash us all in the winter. Because as luck would have it, our bloody water will run out when it’s winter, and regular swims aren’t going to cut it. Hair ties & dry shampoo for the win!

  8. Leigh! Thanks so much for this excellent blog post that also made me laugh when I felt a little bit bleak with the “love in the time of cholera” prospects! I got my mom (and friends who had no idea what micellar water was) cottoned on to the micellar water thanks to you. I shared the link far and wide with my colleagues who don’t normally read beauty blogs (why do I mingle with them even? 😛 ) and they found it just as helpful. Except for one who lectured me about baby wipes, but in a pinch, it’s a short-term solution – it’s not like you suggested using one on every orifice!

    What I currently do to prevent oil-face and to keep my hair clean for as long as possible – I sleep on a satin pillow case – it keeps my hair from going too frizzy/”woes” in my sleep, so that I can wash it way less and extend the “life” of my straightening, blowdry, whatever I choose to do. The satin pillow also doesn’t “sweat” as badly and it doesn’t go rank so quickly – less bedding to wash for now.

    I embraced lighter makeup so that I can easily take it off with some micellar water and a lappie – no need for full basins of water for my face routine at night – because seriously, if you still fill a basin to wash your face, it’s time to staaahhhhp. I also stick to black clothes, because I tend to eat like a toddler and spill on myself and if I don’t mors as much, less clothes to rewash.

    Once again, thanks for making me laugh in this time of doom, gloom and fear-mongering!

    1. Hi Marelize! Thanks for the awesome comment – some great tips in there! I also sleep on a satin pillow case, they’re the best! I also hear you on the baby wipes issue. I’ve found a brand called Pure Beginnings (R114 for a pack of 192). It works out a little over double the price (per wipe) of the brand I suggested in the post but if people can afford and buy them then that’s awesome as it is better for the environment. Personally, I’ll be buying water as well as collecting each day and there are other things that are going to stretch out my budget so I’ll probably end up buying the cheapest wipes and tossing them on the braai ;-P

  9. Although day zero is no laughing matter, your light hearted post was a little ray of sunshine in this time of doom & gloom.

    From a travel point of view – the dry shampoo & wet wipes have been my best friend. But I love the idea of the Micellar cleansing water!

    PS – come visit if you ever need more than 1 shower/bath (I know it would probably be the most expensive cleaning ritual in the history of man… but Belgium has extensive amounts of rain, so no shortages on our side for now)

  10. I’m coming to visit from the states in a month…shall I bring you some Bioderma micellar water? : ) Amazon has it!!

    1. You can actually buy Bioderma in South Africa so I’ve got several bottles in my stash. I’d just be switching to a cheaper brand during the drought as I’d be using so much more of it. So, don’t worry about me, I’m all good, but for you to have offered is super duper kind. Thank you for being awesome.

  11. HAHAHA!!! That broken hoohaa part killed me 😂🤣 But yes, it’s bad.. PE is also reaching day zero at a terrifyingly rapid pace. We’ve just been dealing with it so much longer that it’s a way of life down here.

    My hair is the same as yours in the sense that it needs to be washed every single day! It’s FINE, LONG and OILY and I have also been using the batiste range, else good ‘ol J&J baby powder also does the trick! At least down here we can swim in the sea which helps with the oiliness at the roots.. just slap it up in a pony without brushing on day 2 and you can get away with that messy beach hair look. French Braids also work wonders to hide dirty hair!! If all else fails, accessorize with a pretty head band (gorgeous ones at Zara) or alice band (Claire’s range at Clicks are very cute)!

    Good luck doll!!! Xxx

    1. Thanks hun, all good advice! My escape plan (if it got to that) initially involved moving back to PE (I grew up there) to live with my folks for a bit but it looks like PE will soon be in the same boat. Eeek! I do envy your sea situation though. Everything in PE is just a few minutes’ drive away but for me to get to the beach and back from my spot in the burbs would suck up an hour of my day. Arrrgh! Here’s hoping that if everyone pulls their weight in the saving department we can give Day Zero a skip.

  12. This is brilliant and such a laugh!!!! I live in Dubai and truly don’t understand how CT has become what it has and what’s worse with the potential rain forecast if they were seeding the clouds there would be definite rain, this is what they do in Dubai and it’s made a huge difference!!!! Love your article-brilliant and thanks for the laughs. Entertainment during a tough time. I am visiting for a wedding in 3 weeks and bringing water over with me so don’t use as much of what is left in CT:( will keep these tips in mind for when I am there so thank u:) xoxo

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! And I hear you! Even us Capetonian’s are completely bewildered as to how things got this bad so fast! Don’t worry about bringing water when you visit. It’ll just weigh your suitcase down dramatically and might even explode and soak/destroy all your things. Just stick to under 50 litres a day when you get here. It’s not as hard to do as you might think. Hope you enjoy your stay and apologies in advance for our crappy conditions ;-P

  13. Thank for not only lightening the mood but also for helping a girl out with ALL this useful, practical info!

  14. Thinking of you here in England where it’s been raining (sorry), but now saving water in sympathy as who knows we may also end up queuing. Love and miss Kaapstad. X

  15. We used Cetaphil urea based cleanser when travelling in SA years ago. Just checked out their website- they have a range of cleansers and wipes. We used the face cleanser which worked well wiped off with cotton wool. We were in the sea and sun every day and it worked a treat, no water required. Thanks for the humour in a dour time.

    1. Glad you’ve found something that works and that you enjoyed the post. Day Zero has been pushed out a bit so here’s hoping that if everyone starts saving like a boss right now we won’t end up having to queue.

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