Bonnie Mbuli shares her skincare, fragrance and makeup secrets
You may know her best as a presenter on SABC 3’s Afternoon Express, but Bonnie Mbuli wears a lot of hats, including those of actress, author, speaker, mom and yoga instructor. We snooped through her beauty stash, learnt the secret behind her flawless skin and found out why she steers clear of an overdone brow.
Bonnie Mbuli is very much at home in a makeup chair – and in front of the camera.
‘I started working in the industry at 13 – I was a presenter on a show called Zap Mag,’ she says. ‘Basically, I’ve done this for 25 years.’ Life in the limelight took its toll on her skin. ‘After a couple of years of wearing such heavy makeup every day, my skin just exploded. It was only in later years that I learnt how to look after it properly; my mom wasn’t really into beauty. I’ve had to teach her about skincare, although she does wear perfume. My mom always smelled like potpourri – I used to love opening her wardrobe just to get a whiff of that flowery smell. She used to wear Anais Anais.’
Bonnie sees herself as a minimalist when it comes to beauty, and likes her everyday makeup to be dewy.
‘I show up big time when I have a shoot or a redcarpet event, but it still always has to be simple.’
‘I love a good glow (MAC Mineralise SkinFinish highlighter in Gold Deposit is my go-to), and a red lip: MAC Russian Red or Yardley’s red Stayfast Liquid Matte Lip Vinyls. For a more natural lip,
I like MAC’s Persistence lipstick and Yardley’s Intense Matte in Temptress, which is a pinky brown that is the perfect nude for my skin tone.
‘I’m using a lot of Yardley products at the moment. The Stayfast Foundation is my favourite: it’s lightweight, and I can wear it all day. Some days I just wear Yardley’s Even Complexion Pressed Powder as a base – I feel covered without being clogged up. Onscreen, I use blackUp Matifying Fluid Foundation.
‘To bond with my boys, I give them foot massages. I do a foot scrub (the Organic Shop Lotus & Sugar is nice) and a wash. Then I massage their feet.’
It’s oil-free, and blackUp has amazing tones for dark skin.’
Bonnie uses a slanted angle brush and a dark brown powder eyeshadow to fill in her brows.
‘Never black! The slay queens love a black brow. That square brow – I don’t do that. The other thing I’ll never do is the skinny ’90s brow. I shape my own brows with my Tweezerman. I kind of love the feeling when I pull out a hair and my eyes water!’
The best makeup trick she’s learnt over the years is using concealer.
‘It’s like putting on a filter. I do my under-eyes, I highlight my cheekbones, and I use LA Girl Pro Conceal for my eyebrows: it’s inexpensive, the shade range is divine and it applies so nicely. I have quite a few Yardley high-definition concealer pens as well. Then I use my Smashbox banana powder to set my concealer. And my blushes are from Inglot – they have something called the Freedom System: you choose the colours to assemble your own palette.
‘Yardley has beautiful eyeshadow quads, like Dynasty. I like warm, earthy colours for the eyes.
I wear a smokey eye when I go out, but I’m terrible at doing it myself. I can do a wing now, though! I use the Sorbet Stroke of Genius liquid liner; it’s curved, so you can really grip it – it’s AH-mazing.
‘The Essence Lashes of the Day mascara is great, and it’s only about R50. But I love falsies because my own lashes are super curly and super short. My favourites are the 117 criss-cross strip lash from Eylure. That’s an everyday for me. My boyfriend hates them – if he finds them around the house, he throws them away.’ (‘Get the Duo lash glue from MAC or Inglot – it will hold your life together,’ adds Tyler Williams, Bonnie’s makeup artist.)
SKIN & HAIR
Bonnie is the beauty ambassador for Avène, so it comes as no surprise that she loves the range.
‘I love all the Avène products, right down to the lip balm. The Thermal Spring Water is magic; it has incredible healing properties. It’s good to have in your bag – I use it as a toner and to refresh my makeup. I’ve even seen people spray it in their eyes as “eyedrops” – it’s got no chemicals in it whatsoever.
‘I don’t go a day without Avène Micellar Lotion, and I use the Cleanance Mask twice a week.
The Cleansing Oil is rich and lathers nicely, so I use it as a body wash or under my arms when I shave.
‘I spent too many years not wearing sunscreen, so I use Avène’s D-Pigment range.’
Bonnie also uses Avène products on her youngest son, who has eczema. She sees skincare as a way to spend time with her kids, who’re 7 and 8 years old.
‘To bond with my boys, I give them foot massages. I do a foot scrub (the Organic Shop Lotus & Sugar is nice) and a wash. Then I massage their feet. I find that during those times, we really bond in an intimate way, and a lot of stories that I needed to hear come out. Things that are deep-seated that they don’t know how to talk about – it just happens.’
For her feet, she loves the PEDI Relax range, and has a special cream or oil for almost every body part.
‘I love body creams,’ Bonnie says with a laugh. ‘The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Body Butter is for the bottom half of my legs and my torso, and the Elancyl Slim Design Cellulite Cream is for my bum and thighs – because of it, I’ll be rocking shorts this summer.
I love to use oils on my arms so they look shiiiiny. The Body Shop Moringa Nourishing Dry Oil is fabulous.’
The best mask in the world, she says, is the Glamglow Hollywood California firming treatment. ‘It turns silver when it dries, then you peel it off.’
On weekends, Bonnie sets aside plenty of time to tend to her hair.
‘I have a whole hair wash day! Our type of hair needs to be moisturised. I recently discovered the LOC system: Liquid, Oil, Cream – you apply it in that order. So the liquid can be water or leave-in conditioner. After that, you use an oil (like olive oil or coconut oil), then finish it off with a cream conditioner like the Native Child Milk and Honey Moisture Crème. Clicks now stocks a whole range of Jamaican Black Castor Oil, which is also lovely.’
‘I mostly use Native Child – I like the shea butter and coconut oil hair food, and the leave-in cream conditioner – and the range by Carol’s Daughter. I use the clay shampoo, the curl-defining moisture mask and the Black Vanilla Leave-in Conditioner. It contains aloe and vitamin B5, and smells incredible.
‘I hardly style my hair, but Tyler bought me a great scalp-massaging brush at Dis-Chem. It’s made of silicone, and the brush has little knobbies that move through the hair without breaking it.’
‘I adore facials – I think they do 10 times the work in half the time,’ says Bonnie. ‘I had a vampire facial the other day: they draw blood from your body, and separate it into platelets and plasma. Then they inject the platelets back into your skin – down your neck, under your eyes, all over. Afterwards you look like you need to go home and stay there for two days!
I was terrified, but it was amazing. I go to Dr Nerina Wilkinson – she’s the best.
‘I also do the Oxylight facial – LED lights are used to boost collagen production – and the next thing I want to try is microneedling.
As for nails? ‘I’m a die-hard Gelish fan – I hate painting my own nails. But when I do, I like the Yardley Stayfast Pro-UV Gel formula. Sorbet also makes a nice gel nail polish.’
‘I’m a Kenzo fan – Kenzo Flower. And I love Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Pure. But I often just wear essential oils as perfume: frankincense and myrrh or rose geranium and sandalwood oil. I put it on all my vitals – my chakras. And when I want some fire in my belly, I wear rosemary and thyme.
‘Sì Passione Giorgio Armani is for my flirtatious side – my Shiraz side. Shiraz makes me feel WILD. I generally stay away from it. I don’t mess with it!’
Bonnie does yoga three times a week to stay fit (Bikram and Vinyasa), and whips up fresh juices and smoothies with Superfood powders for herself and her boys every morning.
‘I’ll add spirulina, raw cacao, things like that. They all taste like medicine – but they do wonders for how I feel. And I love supplements: oregano oil as well as zinc, vitamin B12, dandelion drops, gold leaf drops… They all boost the immune system; they’re brain food and are good for your nervous system.’
But her ‘favourite thing in the world’ is a liquid collagen supplement from Pro-Active.
‘It tastes like cough mixture, but I drink it every night before bed. You get it at Wellness Warehouse – it makes your nails and your hair grow, and it lifts your boobies and your bum!’
‘I shape my own brows. I kind of love the feeling when I pull out a hair and my eyes water!’
Above: Most of Bonnie’s makeup collection lives on top of her jonkmanskas in her bedroom. Left: A peek inside her go-to makeup bag – she has a few!
Right: Light streams into Bonnie’s loft apartment during the day. Left: Her perfumes, body butter and favourite mask.