Review: Afari Brightening Elixir

My friend Margaux Knuppe has always been one of the most entrepreneurial people I know. At the age of 26, I was getting wrecked on Porn Star martinis at Asouka. Margs, however, was setting up her first company, Ruby Box. Fast forward a couple of years and now she’s just developed and launched her own freakin’ skincare brand!

Her new baby, Afari, is a luxurious local-is-lekker skincare collection formulated using an indigenous shrub called bulbine frutescens. A hardy, evergreen succulent-type of plant, traditional healers have been using it as a topical cure-all for decades. Much like aloe, it’s an antioxidant-rich, super soother proven to speed up wound healing. The type of thing you’d want to put on a cut, scrape, burn, blister, insect bite or even a monster zit. Also, clinical studies have shown it can stimulate the production of collagen.

I was given two of the products to try and while I really like the indulgently foamy priming cleanser (R595) I’m most impressed by the Brightening Elixir (R1 595). It’s got a lovely gel-cream texture that glides on like a dream and absorbs in a flash. I also like it’s soft, pretty scent. It reminds me of a Clarins product I can’t put my finger on.

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Every Afari product sold directly benefits the women who sustainably harvest its bulbine frutescens content in rural Limpopo.

Ingredients-wise, it contains a good whack of bulbine frutesens leaf juice as well as other antioxidant-rich natural heroes – black currant seed oil and rosehip oil. The latter two make it fabulously hydrating, but not too heavy for my combination skin. Then there’s the “brightener” – ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate – essentially a fancy new form of vitamin C. I wrote about it extensively over here, but here’s a recap: Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (AKA T.A.) is a form of vitamin C that encourages your skin to produce more collagen and can help fade the look of pigmentation. While it’s not as potent as L-ascorbic acid (the fiercest vitamin C on the block), it’s a lot more stable, making it ideal for anyone with sensitive skin. Also, as it’s oil-soluble, it can better penetrate your skin and linger around for longer. This is a good thing as evidence suggests that, over time, you’ll get more bang from your buck from a slightly less strong vitamin C that sticks around than you would a stronger one that destabilises quickly and isn’t fully absorbed.

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If your eyes are old and decrepit like mine you can click on this and it’ll enlarge.

Anyway, I could chat skincare formulation all day, but couldn’t resist the urge, having pinned crazy-busy Margaux down for a bit, to ask about the three biggest lessons she’s learned in her business journey. Ready?

1. Don’t take no for an answer – if I’d have stopped at the first no I received, Afari wouldn’t exist. So many people told me I was crazy, that I was looking for a needle in a haystack and that I would never find a new, indigenous raw ingredient. Perseverance¬†is key, especially as an entrepreneur.

2. Kill people with kindness – this has pretty much always been in my DNA. I have found that a warm greeting, or a smile, or a compliment has opened more doors and started more conversations, than anything else.

3. You don’t have to do (or know) everything – outsource what you don’t know or can’t do yourself, and for the rest there’s Google.

Right! You heard her! Now, if you haven’t found your own miracle skincare ingredient and set up your own skincare company a la Kylie Jenner before the end of the month, please don’t feel kak about it. Just come meet me in Asouka. I’m still there getting wrecked on Porn Star martinis. (But at least I have radiant-looking skin!)

Love, love


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