ALLY (Pt. 3): SKOON
What's cookin', good-lookin'?
Thanks for hitting me up, again. Today's 'Ally' post is going to be about the immaculately-packaged SKOON skincare range, but it's also going to be about little ol' me. That's because I'd like to start sharing with you guys a bit more. I don't think it's fair or interesting to just act as a product showcase, even if I do think these products deserve a soapbox. So, on that note, I'm going to be talking about my experiences with Afrikaans - a South African language with a complex history, both for me personally and for my country.
Why Afrikaans and why now? Well, because the name 'SKOON' [skʰj̆uːən] is an Afrikaans adjective that means 'clean' in English. The good folks at SKOON have made use of the word's kooky look and smooth pronunciation to add just a dollop more richness to their luxe goodies.
Before we move on, please take a moment to glance at the disclaimer at the bottom of this post regarding my work with SKOON , or have a look at what I've said about my 'Ally' posts in this mission statement. Drop me a mail at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Before I turned about six years old, my primary language was Afrikaans. I spoke Afrikaans to my parents, to my teacher, to my friends. Though I did most of my signing in English. Disney classics like 'A Whole New World' at the very top of my lungs. We had a big, flat garden and our porch was rounded and raised like theater stage - a brilliant space for a young girl's voice to blossom and terrify the neighbour(hood).
Anyway. Like I was saying, I was once an Afrikaans girl through and through, with a thick accent slapped over my English words like maple syrup. Evidence of this accent still exists in some mortifying home videos, but I've instructed my loved ones to release them only to super famous celebrity biographers, and to only do this when I die. I trust these wordsmiths to make that stuff look endearing.
I started speaking English more frequently with a few of my English friends at my school. The school was split between English classes and classes in Afrikaans. When an English teacher noticed I kept coming into her class to play with my friends, she said I should consider changing. I don't know what quota she had to fill that induced her to ask a five year old to make a decision on which language she'd prefer to be taught in, but in any case, I took her advice to my parents who let me choose - what was in the water? I chose the class with my best friend in it, so at the tender age of five I began to part with the language I had since been raised in. A language that held my first words to my family, my first fumbles, and my first tall tales. Totsiens, or should I say, 'goodbye'?
To begin your life with one language and then move on to another is a strange experience, more in hindsight than in reality. This experience is aggravated because I didn't go from speaking mostly Afrikaans to speaking mostly English. What actually happened, was that I went from being a bilingual Afrikaans, and English speaker, to being almost monolingual in English.
While I can still speak it when I have to, and I can understand it well enough, I can't imagine ever being as confident or proficient in Afrikaans as I was when I was five. How many times in life did your childhood self do something infinitely better than as you are now? And I don't mean in that crap abstract way like, 'Children just know how to laugh better', or whatever. I mean that you and your younger self walk into a job interview and your mini doppelganger gets the job because they have better language skills. It's not a fun feeling, though I suppose it is funny.
After studying Language Acquisition theories in Linguistics I learnt about the period from age 0-7 years which will decide the languages you speak, understand, and learn with ease. I feel like that information should come with your baby, like, 'Here is Xolisa, if you think she might ever want to visit China, you'll want to introduce her to Mandarin now because she'll struggle to learn it after turning eight.' How many other things have such a ridiculous cut-off age? Sometimes I cringe thinking about having to marry my first boyfriend, and that was when I was sixteen! A whole nine more years to get myself together. Ugh.
I also learnt from Linguistics that my case is especially rare. Afrikaans is a language that has a very emotional history. It started out when Dutch settlers came to South Africa a few hundred years ago. Formed of a mix of Dutch, Malay, and also Bantu, and click languages, Afrikaans was considered a dirty Dutch derivative - 'Kitchen Dutch', they called it.I know, right? Like, 'Wow, what a burn. Let me go recover for a thousand years.'
It's actually strange thinking about this part of Afrikaans' history, because a similar nay-saying happens today with white 'traditional' Afrikaans speakers and speakers of another dialect of Afrikaans, Kaapse Taal, used mainly by Cape Town's coloured population. Ya'll think people would have learnt.
After or with Afrikaans becoming a language, it also became a culture. And this culture and its language occupies a complex space in South Africa today.
After being Apartheid's language of choice, Afrikaans has become a symbol of oppression to many for good reasons. Many of the most obstinate racists are Afrikaans and take pride in white supremacist, hyper-masculine culture. It's because of this pride that a case of Afrikaans-turned-English like mine is so rare.
Without ever taking from that an ounce of truth or importance, Afrikaans is also a beautiful language in the hands of the right people. It has words like 'kos' (food), 'pantoffels' (slippers), 'melkskommel' (milkshake), and 'spook asem', which is the term for 'cotton candy', but is translated literally as 'ghost's breath'. The last of these was pointed out in one of Trevor Noah's stand up shows (as he himself is South African). He also drew attention to the language's often Spartan-like feel with parting greetings like 'sterkte', which means 'strength'. It's in anecdotes like these that I begin to fall in love again with the language of my childhood, and learn to rinse it as far as I can fromt its role in 20th century South Africa and beyond. Not so that it's spotless, but perhaps until it's 'skoon genoeg' (clean enough).
The lovely products that you've seen in thee pictures are as I said, from a local organic skincare company called SKOON. Take a look at their website for minimalist, natural loveliness. On there you'll see an option to shop for your specific skincare needs. I have oily, sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts so for me the best products are the Purifying Clay Cleanser, Spot Stick, Moisture Gel, Moisture Now Serum, Balancing Fluid, and White Cloud Manuka Concentrate.
The concentrates work in an interesting way. You will pick the ones that are best for your skin, and then you will use these to blend with your moisturiser to create a personalised moisture routine. Tada! Fabulosity, as my friend E would say.
It's little touches like these that make SKOON buys feel extra special. Though, I think their wrapping probably takes the cake. My SKOON samples came wrapped in a labelled cardboard contraption, and inside was a beautiful parcel housed in tissue paper and a pink ribbon, along with a simple instruction leaflet on how to go about becoming your best SKOON version of you. If a shop gives you tissue paper, you best know you have arrived. I haven't tried the samples yet, and as you may know, this is not a place I like to keep for reviews.
That said, these babies will be coming with me to London next week because their sizes are perfect for travelling. And these little sizes aren't blogger-exclusive. You can get them from their website for upcoming trips, or if you just want to try things out before committing - probably a good idea considering their above-average price tag. Your purchase will also come free with some samples, and if there is ANYTHING I love more than gorgeous wrapping, it's samples. I blame it on Sephora and avarice, what's your excuse?
If you've got any stories about your language loves and misgivings, give me a shout in the comments below. Ditto for any scoops you have on our new ally, SKOON.
Until next time, these are the days of our lives.
SKOON have sent Toofufu the products mentioned in the post and pictured here. They have done so knowing it would likely result in shareable coverage, like this post. Please see Toofufu's mission statement for more information on allies. Clicking on the pictures will take you to this ally's website. Don't be alarmed. They're nice.