What is your earliest skincare memory? Could it have been watching the Princess Diaries and learning that the famous cucumber on your eyes with your face mask trick doesn’t do anything? (Damn, you Paolo!) Was it your very first pimple and the feeling that, at only thirteen years old, your life was over and you would never recover from this level of humiliation? Chances are it’s probably something your mom taught you. Or your older sister and her trendy friends. Maybe it was your grandmother and aunties, or even your first BFF?
Just like our actual skin and genetic make-up, our skincare habits are hereditary. Just as my mother blessed my sister and me with dry skin, she also taught us all the tips and tricks to avoid looking like a freshly glazed doughnut. And it wasn’t always in things she outrightly said, either. We would watch her carry blotting paper in her purse, using a little extra powder on her T-zone or her insistence that everyone put a little Vaseline around their noses in the dry, winter months.
My sister passed down a lot too. I had a meltdown about a giant forehead pimple the day before camp and she put a dab of toothpaste on it--whether this was actually good advice remains to be seen. When I got another pimple on my chin, she was the first to tell me that my period was about to arrive--or maybe she made fun of me for having a crush on someone. She also got me into smelly egg face masks and washing my face with cold water.
That’s the thing about skincare; it’s a bunch of open secrets we all happily share and pass around with each other. YEARN’s latest campaign is all about the interconnected nature of self-care. Beauty and care exist because of our relationships with each other.
When I am using the two-finger rule for sunscreen, it’s the domino effect of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Black women before me who’ve tried and tested everything. When I tell my friends about it, more dominos set off as they’ll maybe one day pass it on to their family, their partners and onto their children.
This idea is present in the YEARN short film, where we learn Prince Rich’s (played by the effervescent Una Rams) secret only once we have a peek into the lives of everyone around him. We see that Prince Ramses glow is the sum of the beauty, love and richness around him. It’s something about Karabo Glow (Ponahalo Mojapelo) and Jessica Lather (Cherne Africa) enjoying a healthy dose of sun, against the most luxurious of backdrops. It’s the enigmatic poise of the matriarchs, Sharon Glow (Vanessa Mqoco) and Chloe du Bois (Togieda Samodien), wrapped in terrycloth and pastels. It’s Trent Fresh (Kurtwynn Trompetter), our groom, adding that final dollop of cream before celebrating life and love with his bride.
Our inheritance isn’t strictly the monetary things we get. The film uses luxury and leisure as a shortcode for the beauty and richness of our relationships with one another. And it’s a beauty and richness that is only further enhanced by the diversity of those relationships.
YEARN was founded by two sisters, Natasha and Nadia Michael, because of the lack of skin care products that catered to their specific needs. While the beauty and personal care industries have made great strides towards diversity and inclusivity in recent years, they still have a long way to go in addressing the many different needs of the many different people of the world.
Today, the majority of our knowledge of skin care is as the result of tests and experiments performed on lighter/caucasian skin which is why YEARN’s focus on hyperpigmentation and melasma is so significant--these are issues that disproportionately affect Black and brown people.
Diversity is also important in the sources we turn to for research and information. Ingredients like turmeric have long been passed down as skincare remedies amongst BIPOC communities and it’s only now that science is understanding the things our grandmothers and great grandmothers already knew. Once again, we see how important inheritance and community can be for skincare. It’s not just that brands should market to a diverse audience and make products for “all” but it’s also important that we listen to our diverse teachers of mothers, aunts, grandmothers and so on.
YEARN’s latest campaign is all about engaging the collectivism of skin care and self-care. We’re all interconnected and that makes us so much stronger and better.
Vernon Howard once said, “The fact is, everything we want or yearn for is won through other people. No man on an island is happy; he is merely existing. The joyous life is the one filled with rich relationships.”
Director: Cherné Africa @chernaylin
Writer: Amma and Kensani Mohlatlole
Producer: Cherné Africa @chernaylin
Cinematographer: Rapson Tshikhudo @blxcknativesmedia
First camera assistant: Charles Mulondo @charles_mulondo
Editor: Rapson Tshikhudo @blxcknativesmedia
Visual effects producer: Rapson Tshikhudo @blxcknativesmedia
Sound design: Rapson Tshikhudo @blxcknativesmedia
Set Designer: Cherné Africa @chernaylin
Wardrobe: Cherné Africa @chernaylin
Hair and makeup: Caroline Greef @carolinegreeff
Casting director: Cherné Africa @chernaylin
Vanessa Mqoco @vanessa_mqoco starring as The Mother of the Bride
Togieda Samodien starring as The Best Friend to the Mother of the Bride
Cherné Africa @chernaylin starring as The Bridesmaid
Pona Mojapelo @ponahalo starring as The Bride
Kurt Trompetter @pretty_kurt starring as The Groom
Una Rams @unarams starring as The Performer
Graphic designer: Joshua Mtseke
Photographer: Tafara Meda @taff_murda
Assistants: Yaone Refentse @yaone_refentse, Olerato Refentse @love.olerato and Ava Assadi @avangelic