How a Cape Town It Girl's Beauty Routine Has Changed With the Water Crisis

girl in bed with towel on her head

It’s here: 31 days. 31 cities. 31 perspectives. Each day in the month of March, we’re profiling an inspiring woman from across the world and asking her to share her beauty routine, products, and wellness secrets. Consider this your firsthand look into the beauty traditions and cultures of your beauty-obsessed counterparts from Thailand, Nigeria, and more (and don’t forget to check our Instagram for a beauty-themed global takeover each day). Following Lisa Patulny, the editor of Byrdie Australia, who describes the effortless Aussie aesthetic as “French beauty … with more bronzer,” we have Aphiwe Khambule, a Cape Town blogger who walks us through her beauty routine during a water crisis.

girl in bed with towel on her head

Name: Aphiwe Khambule

Age: 23

City and country of residence:

I’ve been living Cape Town, South Africa, for over a year now.

Your beauty icons:

There are so many women in the beauty industry who I look up to and admire. First of all, the queen of makeup, Pat McGrath. I admire how she has shaped and built her career over the years. Then I also love Rihanna. I mean, she has given us some of the most iconic beauty looks and forever changed the beauty industry with Fenty Beauty. And, of course, Lupita Nyong’o for the best hair inspiration, and she’s just an all-around beauty icon.

The skincare products you can’t live without:

My Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil ($26) because no one likes chapped lips, SkinCeuticals Equalizing Toner ($34) to refresh and revive my skin, SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture ($62) to keep my skin highly moisturized and hydrated, Elizabeth Arden Prevage City Smart Board Spectrum SPF 50 Hydrating Shield ($68) to protect my skin from the harsh Southern African sun, and I like using the GlamGlow Glowgetter Makeup Setting Spray ($16) as a refreshing facial mist because of its vitamin C concentration.

The hair products you can’t live without:

Tresemmé Botanique Nourish and Replenish Shampoo ($5) and conditioner—these two products are my everyday hair products. Cantu Extra Hold Edge Stay Gel ($4) when I need to style my baby hairs. Aunt Jackie’s Don’t Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curl Gel ($6) and Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture & Shine Hair Smoothie ($14) when my hair needs some extra TLC and treatment. Finally, the ORS Olive Oil Nourishing Sheen Spray ($5) to revive my hair at any moment.

The makeup products you can’t live without:

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer ($36) is just genius. Nyx Professional Makeup Total Control Drop Foundation ($14) is one of the few foundations I’m using at the moment. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Stunna Lip Paint ($24)—this red shade suits everyone and doesn’t dry out your lips. The Wet n Wild MegaGlow Highlighting Face Powder Precious Petals ($5) whenever I need a pop of color on my cheeks, and any Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette ($54).

What countries and cultures do you find most inspirational when it comes to beauty and why?

I don’t mean to be biased, but I really love how my country is so diverse when it comes to beauty and culture. We inspire each other with our different backgrounds. There are no right or wrong beauty ideas here, and I love that!

What are the most popular beauty product(s) and brand(s) in your country right now?

There are so many! It is a mix of local and international beauty brands. International makeup brands such as NYX Professional Makeup, GlamGlow, and Maybelline are currently a big hit in the country for their inclusivity in their products that the South African demographic finds relatable, while Sorbet, a local brand, has just launched its makeup range and people are super excited about this.

What are the most popular beauty trends in your country right now?

We are all dabbling in the Korean skincare, with attempts to try out the 10-step skincare routine and applying modeling masks; everyone is becoming a fan of K-Beauty.

What is your favorite traditional beauty secret from your country?

There is a particular red clay mask known as ibomvu (red soil) that we use in the Zulu culture to protect our skin from the harsh sun. It’s basically our version of a clay mask, and this particular clay is rich in minerals.

Where do you buy beauty products?

Our South African version of Sephora is Clicks, Dischem, Woolworths, and Edgars. Each store houses different beauty brands. At Clicks and Dischem, you can find your favorite drugstore brands like L.A. Girl and Essence, while Edgars and Woolworths are the home for the high-end beauty brands like Lancôme, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, and Estée Lauder.

woman in red dress and in blue dress

How has the water crisis affected your beauty routine? Have you had to adjust the way you wash your face or wash your hair? If so, explain how.

It has definitely affected everyone’s beauty routines whether we like or not. Right now a person can’t enjoy the luxury of bubble baths. I’ve had to readjust my beauty routine, especially in the evenings. At the moment, in the mornings I still cleanse my face with water, but I’ll ensure that while applying the cleanser to my face that the tap is off and only switch it on when it’s time to wash the product off. In the evening, I won’t necessarily use water in my routine—instead, I’ll remove my makeup and cleanse my face with the Nivea Visage Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes ($12) and Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, Cleansing and Make-Up Removing Solution ($11).

How has the water crisis affected your wellness routine? Do you find yourself working out less or looking to other drinks/food to stay hydrated?

Not really. I’ve never really been a fan of the gym. I prefer exercising outdoors. Water is still available in stores, but unfortunately, it's at a much more expensive rate, so staying hydrated comes at a cost.

For those who might not know, how would you explain the water crisis in Cape Town? What are you and other people doing to save water?

This is the worst drought the city has ever dealt with. The dams are running dry, which means the city is running out of water. The worse the situation becomes, the stricter the water restrictions are. At the moment, every household is limited to 50 liters of water to help save water.

How have you been getting the water your body needs? Even though Day Zero has been rescinded, are you still being mindful of how much water you use?

I’ve come to appreciate every last drop of water whenever I purchase it stores or when it’s on the taps. So bottled water and water in the taps is still accessible, but obviously, people need to be mindful when switching on their taps.

Aphiwe Khambule's beauty products, woman posing with flowers

What does “healthy living” mean to you?

It means taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually.

How do you define/practice “self-care”?

I would define “self-care” as a way of living in which you have learned to invest in yourself and have become okay with being selfish with your time for yourself.

What’s your favorite way to stay active and why?

I’m so lucky and privileged to live in a city that is surrounded by beautiful mountains. So every now and then, I like to hike with a group of friends—it’s a great bonding and fitness session.

What’s your favorite healthy meal?

Well, my favorite meal is definitely pizza, but since we’re talking about being healthy, I’m a huge fan of couscous salads mixed with yummy roasted vegetables.

What are the most popular wellness trends in your country right now?

Naturally produced food is the diet right now.

Check back every day for more beauty and wellness routines from cool women across the world.

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