I started to become aware of skincare in my late 20s. Before that, if I’d gone out to a party it was sometimes just ‘get the makeup off, wash the skin the next day’. I don’t do that anymore. It doesn’t matter if it’s three o’clock in the morning, I’ll always take off my makeup. Now I’m quite disciplined with my routine and always have La Roche-Posay Anthelios UVMune 400 Oil Control SPF50+ sun cream, £19.90, in my bag, which I use on my daughter, too. I have a sun allergy; too long in the sun and it hurts.
There are so many natural resources in Africa to discover for skincare. One of the hero ingredients in my Lovemore by Motsi Mabuse range, found in products such as the Face Serum, £34, is jacaranda (Pretoria in South Africa, where I grew up, is known as the Jacaranda City), which has calming benefits for the skin.
Then there’s baobab oil in the Eye Cream, £24, helping to prevent collagen breakdown. And we have marula oil, which is very specific to South Africa. It’s a vitamin bomb and in my nourishing Night Cream, £32.
We didn’t talk as much about appearance as health in the family when I was growing up. We were very, very skinny kids. In Africa, that’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you guys?’ so our parents were always trying to get us to eat.
Being a dancer means being rigorous about how you look. You have to fit in a dress; you have to look good. In that context it’s difficult to always be positive about your body. I think most of my life, I weighed 49 kilos [7st 10lb]. After I had my daughter, who’s now five, I started saying, ‘I can’t do this to my body.’ I’m getting comfortable with understanding that I’m not a dancer anymore; getting comfortable with my new body and being thankful for my career.
When I was dancing, I would eat and it would be burned off with a cha cha cha. Now I’m more aware of what’s in what I’m eating. I try to have a balance. I actively avoid sugar… in my head! And I try not to go out to eat. Just after we stopped dancing professionally, my husband [the Ukrainian dancer Evgenij Voznyuk] and I used to go out a lot and just eat and eat. Now we try to cook at home, with lots of organic food. We’re trying to eat less meat, but that’s hard for me as a South African. We do like our meat.
Face creams used to be my indulgence until I had my own line. Now perfume is my number one indulgence. I wear Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc EDP, £220. It’s fresh, feminine and sweet in a way. It makes me feel like I’ve invested in myself. I wear it every day.
At home I mostly go bare-faced, but I do love makeup. I’m happy that Rihanna started Fenty Beauty because it opened up so many possibilities for Black women – I like the Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer in Mocha Mami, £29. I also love Hourglass, Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish in Deep, £38, and Pat McGrath Labs – I use her Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation in Deep 34, £61, for contouring and also her Skin Fetish: Divine Blush in Paradise Venus, £40. I use two mascaras: one on my lower lashes, which has a small brush, and YSL Lash Clash, £29 for the upper lashes. I’d rather spend money on good products than buy 10 cheaper ones that don’t work.
My relationship with my hair? It’s been a journey. Like so many little Black girls, I didn’t like my hair. For school, it had to be down and plaited. Combing it out was always painful. In 2012 I got a relaxer to straighten it and it burned me – my scalp is still sensitive today. So, then I fell into the wig phase. I’m not against wigs – if I want to look a certain way, I’ll wear one. It gives me joy to try new looks. But I’m also embracing my natural hair and just letting it loose. My sister Oti and I will walk out with our natural hair and our other sister, who still lives in South Africa, will say ‘Guys, you can’t go out like that!’ But we’ll say, ‘God made us this way.’
It was uncomfortable when my daughter said she wanted straight hair like her Ukrainian babushka [grandmother]. I had to be a role model, so now I never wear a wig in private. In our house, we say about wigs, ‘This is dolly hair, work hair’ – not our hair. As I embrace my natural hair, she sees it and now loves her own. Although I needed to dream big for motivation in my career – and it’s easy to say this because I have nothing to prove any more – there is this idea that if you’re not dreaming big, it’s not enough. Now I’d tell my younger self everything’s gonna be okay. You don’t always have to dream big; it can just be about being happy. Getting older is a privilege. Number one, that means you get to spend more time with the people you love. And that’s a gift. I’m very clear on the energy and people I want around me and I’m saving the best of me for them.