As Botswana winter kicks in, the vegetation will soon dry up, and so will human skin. The temperatures will drop below zero degrees and winds will blow fiercely up north, leaving behind a trail of shameful looks. From bloodshot eyes, through dusty and uncombed hair, to check shins and facial lines of frowning back at the winds.
Temporary bath phobia will develop, and have its presence greatly felt when some of us resort to hot caffeinated beverages for warmth, instead of bathing in bath salts and oils. Petroleum jelly will be the order of the day for children’s skins, eventually leaving them with checked cheeks.
For those who don’t know, application of anything – believed to be skin friendly – will compete against hash effects of the cold season. Others with broader knowledge of skin products will require special treatment beyond simple body lotion.
Luckily, some skins won’t require anything special but will still remain radiant.
A warning suggests that cheap skin treatment products cause damage to skin over time and leave permanent blemishes. A recommendation for renowned – high quality skin products – spell no harm, instead promise skin relief and radiance right through the season.
Although cosmetic application is not necessarily gender based, some people – especially men – feel strongly disgusted by their presence in the society. To them, a cheaply valued bar of soap and body lotion is a sign of being real cattle-post man, and not a town sissy.
But somehow, some cheat. They publicly disapprove but, behind closed doors, apply better quality cosmetics in secret, and next pretend their skins are good because of fresh cow milk.
By a large sense defined by different skin types, cosmetics do matter to many people, and it does not start with youth, like today’s adults like to put it. In fact, it’s in their favourite book, the Bible. Cosmetics are mentioned in the Old Testament, such as in 2 Kings 9:30, where Jezebel painted her eyelids – approximately 840 BC – and in the book of Esther, where various beauty treatments are described.
Despite it all, still some male chauvinists proceed to say cosmetics reflect weakness of a woman. As picked from a sporadic discussion of non-official observers, the skin products waste hard earned cash and precious time. But not until Tanlume Enyatseng steps in to defend women and cosmetics.
The young man says a woman – his mother, raised him single-handedly. In between there, mentored by his sisters and girl cousins. He grew to understand and appreciate strength of a woman without any particular reference to – the ever so well documented – philosophies of masculine duties. In fact, he knows little from men.
T – as close associates address him – doesn’t understand a man who lacks respect for a woman. Neither does he respect the position of a woman who lets a man disrespect her when a man might as well be a creature of runaway habit. And he knows a woman has a habit of caring.
“I grew up with women. Anything negative about women has no time in my space,” he says in a simple carefree attitude. In fact, there was no man close by when he grew up. It’s only recently that there’s ‘a man’ he can relate to. “My younger brother just arrived yesterday,” says T.
By spending most of his life under care of women, his choice of daily activities began to carry feminine influence and at one point he started selling cosmetics, skin products traditionally associated with women.
“It’s an idea that I picked from my mother,” he points out with emphasis that he was not necessarily pressured.
It also turns out that his choices are most likely to impress women as opposed to men.
“Having sisters helped a lot; I have many female clients who keep informing their friends,” he adds.
Basically, T sells cosmetic products that are applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance without affecting the body’s structure or functions, the idea that quite a number of men wont openly entertain.
These men might not be aware that, although modern skin ideas have been traditionally used mainly by women, an increasing number of males across town are gradually using cosmetics, usually associated to women to enhance or cover their own facial features. This is something that cosmetics brands are aware of and deliberately release products especially tailored for men. As T states, men are increasingly using such products.
“They use them. Sometimes women buy for their men, like a girl buying for her boyfriend,” he knows it from his own experience.
Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, coloured contact lenses, hair colours, hair sprays and gels, deodorants, hand sanitizer, bath oils, bubble baths, bath salts, butters and many other types of products.
There are two types of cosmetics: decorative cosmetics and care cosmetics. T sells both cosmetics and he highlights that mascara goes like hotcakes.
Skin products are made for different skin types and they come in different forms like liquids, gels, lotions and bars. With five basic skin types, – normal skin, dry skin, oily skin, combination skin and sensitive skin – each has its own product.
Normal skin has a fine, even and smooth surface due to its ideal balance between oil and moisture content and is therefore neither greasy nor dry. People who have normal skin have small, barely-visible pores. Thus, their skin usually appears clear and does not frequently develop spots and blemishes. This type of skin needs minimal and gentle treatment, but does still require maintenance.
Dry skin has a parched appearance and tends to flake easily. It is prone to wrinkles and lines due to its inability to retain moisture. It often has problems in cold weather, which dries it out even further. Constant protection in the form of a moisturizer by day and a moisture-rich cream by night is essential.
Oily skin, as its name implies, has a slightly moderate greasy surface. The excess oil on the surface of the skin causes dirt and dust from the environment to stick easily. Oily skin is usually prone to spots and pimples. It needs to be cleansed thoroughly every day, especially in hot or humid weather.
Combination skin is the most common type of skin. It combines both oily and dry or normal skin where certain areas of the face are oily and the others dry. The oily parts are usually found on a central panel, called the T-Zone, consisting of the forehead, nose and chin.
The dry areas usually consist of the cheeks and the areas around the eyes and mouth. In such cases, each part of the face is treated according to its skin type. There are also skin care products made especially for those who have combination skin.
Sensitive skin is typically dry, but can be oily, normal or combination as well. It has a tendency to react to many potential triggers of irritations like stings, burning, flaking, lumpiness and rashes. The most common causes of irritation are chemical dyes and fragrances, soaps, some flower, shaving creams, changes in temperature, excessive cleansing, shaving and bleaching.
As Botswana winter kicks in – without particularly considering skin type – T suggests tissue oil as the best skin remedy for our cold and dry weather.
“It restores moisture, reduces appearance of scars and moisturises dry skin,” he notes, adding that the tissue oil can come in different forms, soaps or liquids.
Selling cosmetic products has earned T a fair share of disrespectful words from the city’s self-serving critics, mainly men. As he reflects, none of them has anything special to offer in place of what they want cleared out. He says they just give hurtful speeches.
“One has told me to quit suggesting if there is nothing else left to do, why do I not go to the cattle post and herd cattle…as if he has been around to teach me anything on that,” he laments.
It seems men’s statement wont shake him because he only knows where he comes from and why he is doing what he is doing.
“After school my marks were not good enough to qualify me for varsity. I worked here and there…I thought I’d work and upgrade my marks at the same time. Multitasking didn’t work out as I planned,” he explains.
There was no man around to teach him how to go about anything in any game.
He had to do something to avoid sitting back, being preoccupied and getting all stressed up. His mother was there. She introduced him to selling of cosmetic products, which – at first – he found to be particularly, feminine, and nothing masculine about it.
“My mother used to sell the products…she introduced me,” he says.
Although he didn’t want to sell the products, he also knew his mother was genuinely on his side, and he personally didn’t want to start looking like some sort of burden. For a man who grew up with women, it wasn’t difficult to pick up the idea.
Today he buys Justine cosmetic products from South Africa and sells them in Botswana. The products are for both men and women.
“A man’s skin is different from a woman’s. Men might have different facial products to avoid razor bumps, what you get after shaving,” he says.
He has been selling products for three years now, and says it’s not a job that he can live off but, if it adds value, he might open an office to grow it into a fully-fledged business.
With knowledge that criticism of cosmetics has come from a variety of sources including feminists, religious groups, animal rights activists, authors and public interest groups, he fancies himself as serial sales man willing to grow in life. He confidently reveals that he will sell cosmetics without anyone stopping him, and will stop when he feels like it.