THE African skincare company Terres D’Afrique was founded by Dr Stephen Helary – a veterinarian-turned botanist who has gone from saving rhinos to saving your skin. Glass spoke to him about his unique company.
When did your love affair with Africa begin?
My parents were nature lovers and I used to go on trips to the bush with them and that’s where my love for African nature came about. When you’re born in a continent, it just stays in you and sometimes you want to get away, but you always come back. I’ve always been in love with cultural diversity and fascinated with tribal beauty.
How did you go from a veterinarian and saving rhinos to a luxury skin care company?
I had always wanted to be a vet and a conservationist and always wanted to make the world a better place. I wanted to do something to help improve the livelihood of the people here. So, that’s when I went from being a vet – working with rhinos – to putting all my experience with all those things into creating a brand that stayed true to my principles.
What makes Terres D’Afrique different from other skin brands?
Discovering the potential of marula, and the magical properties using African botanicals, that will help give back to the women here in those provinces. I wanted to ensure that the brand would benefit the women in the rural areas while staying true to my own values. We use no plastic, recyclable materials that are made in the most sustainable way possible and only work with people who we trust to treat the environment properly.
The scent is so unique – how did that come about?
Omumbiri – a resin that’s part of myrrh family and grows in Namibia. At the beginning of summer, the sap comes out of the tree and women from the Himba tribe collect these droplets and use the resin to help preserve the butterfat that they coat themselves in. The omumbiri resin helps to hide the smell of the butterfat – preserving and perfuming it. It contains traditional myrrh and some unique plants but the key ingredient is omumbiri.
How does buying and using Terres D’Afrique help women of Africa?
I’m currently working on building a preschool in a village where there isn’t one. The women take care of the family, have kids and do everything themselves. We wanted to help to empower these women by helping them to make money, improve their lives and their position in society.
There’s also a Baobab Foundation close to our heart that were giving one per cent of our sales to sponsor the foundation. They have a program that sponsors women to help take care of the young baobab trees and teach them to look after the trees for future generations.
What’s next on the list for Terres D’Afrique?
There is a perfume were working on is currently – but it’s on hold due to the current climate – a body wash. We will be launching two new anti-oxidant face masks this year, which include the ingredients kigelia, baobab and rooibos.
What does ethical beauty mean to you?
Honesty, transparency and sustainability. When you look at ethical beauty, it’s important to look at where the products are made and the communication, organic certification, no animal products or animal testing, we like to communicate clearly to the consumer what’s inside our products and how its sourced, it’s important to be honest.
What is your favourite product?
Omumbiri body butter. But, the most interesting is our serum, containing Kigelia. In Mozambique, the women use it on their face and breasts when they’re breast feeding to prevent sagging, its clinically proven it has four per cent increase of skin tightening and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants properties which helps prevent and repair UVA and UVB damage.
I understand you are working on a programme for Africa Day, can you tell me about more about that?
Promoting creativity on Africa Day, by showcasing some amazing creatives that are coming out of Africa, by sharing images not just of the artists but the art they’re creating, highlighting creativity and celebrating the cultural diversity and creativity in Africa. We want to celebrate life and what Africa has to offer.
by Sheridan Ward
Find Terres d’Afrique on Instagram