My trips abroad often end up with me adding new skincare ranges to my bathroom shelves. I love that hotels increasingly champion locally made beauty products, which not only benefit the body but also act as memory conductors, transporting me back to holiday locations with their olfactory power. Africology is just one such range that I came across in Zimbabwe earlier this year, at the very sleek Matetsi River Lodge on the banks of the magnificent Zambezi river. Memories of elephants lingering outside my room and lions prowling nearby come flooding back to me in the much tamer Wiltshire countryside every time I apply the delicious Skin Conditioning Marula Oil (£25 for 50ml) after my shower. The sacred marula fruit is blessed by the village elders before it is harvested, and its oil is infused with rooibos and neroli “to soften signs of ageing”.
The use of marula is indicative of Africology’s focus on healing. South Africa-based founder Renchia Droganis is a massage therapist, aromatherapist and reiki counsellor who began creating lotions and potions at her kitchen table in the 1990s. She learnt from traditional healers about the power of local plants, such as African potato, which she believes visibly improved both her mother’s osteoarthritis when administered in a tea, and a young boy’s psoriasis when made into a paste with beeswax, honey and rooibos tea. These ingredients all feature in the current Africology range, which Droganis launched in 2006 and was soon sought out by high-end spas all over Africa. The aromatic Bath Salts (£38 for 200ml), for example, contain marula, African potato, rooibos and Aloe ferox to relieve sore muscles and are my current go-to favourite in which to soak. The extensive collection includes serums (Absolute Rose Serum, £48 for 30ml, calms “hormonal skin”) and face masks (the Clay Masque, £30 for 50ml, is good for eczema-prone skin). There’s also a purifying Charcoal Soap (£10 for 100g), Chakra candles (£38) and a delightful floral pillow spray (£15 for 100ml), scented with neroli and geranium.
“My favourite product at the moment is the Intense Night Hydration [£65],” says Droganis, who made a big international leap this week with the opening of a London store in Covent Garden. “It’s always in my handbag when I travel.” With oleic and hyaluronic acids stimulating collagen synthesis, this vitamin-rich balm promises a healthy, youthful glow – something attested to by the scores of emails from those who have used it. One to try, I think, after I’ve stocked up on exotic-smelling Christmas gifts.