SA Success Story | Local Skincare Brand Takes on the EU

Afari, the luxury South African skincare line, launches in Europe to critical acclaim from the sternest of critics: Dutch beauty editors.

As a beauty editor on Glamour magazine, Margaux Knuppe dedicated much of her time to understanding the science behind the active ingredients in the formulations she tested and wrote about. She would go on to co-found rubybox, the beauty e-commerce and content platform, and in 2019 launched a luxury South African skincare brand called Afari.

The effective, multi-tasking skincare range offers a complete routine with just four products and South Africans fell in love. Afari has generated 100% year-on-year growth for the last two years and is on track to achieve that again at the end of this year. Afari’s customer retention is more than double the industry average, and its reviews average is 4.8 out of 5 stars with 200+ positive reviews from skincare enthusiasts.

In September, just three years after it was first launched, Afari has launched in Europe with an official event in The Netherlands. The reaction exceeded Margaux’s expectations.

  • “I’ve already used a few products and I’m a huge fan of the cleanser, so it’s also in this week’s [Editor’s Favorites section on Instagram],” said Karlijn van Spankeren, NSMBL magazine and Beautify.nl
  • “Wonderful products,” enthused Claudia Kooij, an influencer
  • “I just wanted to send you a message because the products from Afari, you have sent me, it’s really insane. I think it’s the best skincare I have ever had. I also love when you apply it, it soaks in really quickly, but it stays a little dewy on your skin. You get a beautiful glow from it. It is really magnificent,” said Fleur Eysberg, blogger

“Being South African and surrounded by the diverse flora and fauna in our country, coupled with our rich heritage of healing, I wanted to share this knowledge with the rest of the world and showcase the incredible benefits of Bulbine, Afari’s active ingredient, on a global scale, thus bringing recognition to South Africa,” says Margaux. “My grandfather was born in Apeldoorn, a city in the centre of The Netherlands, and The Netherlands is known as a good testing ground for entry into the rest of Europe, so I started there.”

And a good entry point it proved to be. Afari is being shipped all over Europe and the site is available in French, German, Dutch and English. The UK and US markets are next in Margaux’s sights.

Indigenous Active Ingredient

When she refers to the benefits of Bulbine, Margaux is referring to the well-known healing (and anti-ageing) properties of Bulbine frutescens, a small indigenous shrub related to aloes.

She discovered Bulbine frutescens when investigating the anti-aging properties of indigenous plants. Commonly known as the snake flower, cat’s tail, stalked bulbine, grass aloe and burn jelly plant, it grows only in the dry valleys of southern Africa.

The gel-like sap in its leaves has been used for generations as a remedy for injuries and skin complaints due to its soothing, anti-inflammatory properties. Recently released scientific research has clinically proven that the sap stimulates collagen synthesis, a fundamental process for maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin.

Key benefits of Bulbine frutescens sap include:

  • an immediately noticeable tightening of the skin
  • an increase in collagen production by up to 100%
  • visible lifting and improvement of the structure of sagging skin
  • reduction in wrinkles around the eye area by up to 74% one hour after use

Giving Back

Each Afari product sold benefits the women harvesting the plants in rural Limpopo who receive a 10% share of the profits each year.

Skincare Collection

The Afari collection consists of four products:

1. Priming Cleansing,100 ml

2. Brightening Elixir, 50 ml

3. Protecting Day Cream SPF30, 50 ml

4. Overnight Regenerating Cream, 50 ml

The three step, twice-daily routine targets the major signs of ageing: fine lines, wrinkles, uneven texture, and pigmentation. Each product is cruelty-free, vegan, and PETA-approved. Afari only uses skin-friendly ingredients and does not contain parabens, mineral oils, sulphates, silicones, synthetic dyes and petrochemicals or PEGs.


The European store can be found at: afariskincare.com.

Afari’s products are available locally online at www.afari.co.za.

The range is also listed in ARC stores nationwide (www.arcstore.co.za), as well as in selected luxury boutiques and online skincare destinations.

Margaux Knuppe

Founder Margaux Knuppe was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. After majoring in film and media at the University of Cape Town, she went on to do her postgraduate in marketing. Margaux started her career in advertising, where she worked for an international beauty brand. Her career continued as a beauty assistant at Fairlady and then as beauty editor at Glamour.

After testing thousands of beauty products, she traded the publishing world for the tech world, where she co-founded rubybox, an e-commerce beauty subscription start-up. Her expertise was also called upon for weekly TV appearances, radio shows and guest speaking engagements.

More than a decade of conversations about beauty led to the launch of Afari, a South African, luxury skincare line.

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