We need to focus on black women and their particular beauty needs

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Former beauty editor and founder of The Matte Project, Mathahle Stofile talks to us about catering for black women in an industry where they are often side-lined. This is why she started her own company and why you should start following her advice…

By: Keletso Modisakeng  

Friday Beauty chat on the Facebook page right now. Head on over before 12 o’clock. #thematteproject

A photo posted by The Matte Project (@thematteproject) on

Who is Mathahle? I am a mother and beauty consultant. I like to laugh, tell stories, eat, read, get pampered, cook and meet new people. I am me and the list goes on and on… What experience do you have in the beauty world and where did it all start? I am a former magazine beauty editor who found a love for grooming since I was a little girl. I used to (and still do) give my parents mini-pedicures from when I was about eleven. It’s still a tradition whenever we are all together in one place. My experience with beauty and grooming probably started back then, right through my (very brief) modelling days after high school and finally editing beauty pages for a magazine. I, of course, had many other jobs in between.

Mathahle with Neutrogena’s new local face Nomzamo Mbatha. Pic by @mmaponyane #Neutrogena #NewLocalFace   A photo posted by The Matte Project (@thematteproject) on

What did you study and how did that play a role in your current work?

I studied marketing, communication and branding. As a beauty entrepreneur, I now find myself having to communicate expertly, market the company and make sure the branding and positioning is on point. I suppose everything in business is around marketing, communication and branding.

What have you learnt from the beauty industry – both good and bad – and how do you apply that experience to the person you are now?

Those who make or own the products usually see no responsibility in the inclusion of other ethnicities or race groups. This is not everyone, obviously, but in a country where the gross majority of the population is black, we should be seeing way more black images of beauty.

Too often there is one image of what is supposed to be beautiful or glamorous, which is ridiculous considering how different people look all around the world. What I took from this is that it is important for me as a black woman living in Africa working in this industry to create other images of beauty, and impart information and affirmation to people around the world who look like me that usually feel invisible in this world. I basically support Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s message at a Ted Talk titled “The danger of the single story.”

Kiehl’s winning combo for anyone who wants to tackle an uneven skin tone. The BB cream has a broad spectrum SPF 50 and a dark enough tint for darker skin tones. I use the “DEEP” but they also have “MEDIUM DEEP” which is too light on me. The serum is to correct dark marks and clarifying the skin while it also hydrates it. I’ve been using both for just under two weeks and am very happy with the state of my skin. Granted, I didn’t really have dark marks to correct but I love the hydration the serum gives me under the light coverage of the BB. I’ve been skipping my normal moisturiser and using the BB instead. At night, I still use a good night cream and serum for extra hydration and active ingredients benefit. If you have dark spots, why not try this combo and let us know how it worked for you? If you have hectic pigmentation, start with a professional treatment like a microdermabrasion and then use these to maintain the results. Fun fact: BB creams don’t just moisturise and cover with a tint, they also have other skincare benefits which differ depending on the BB you choose. #darkspots #pigmentation #skincare #kiehls #thematteproject A photo posted by The Matte Project (@thematteproject) on

What is The Matte Project and what inspired you to start it?

It is a beauty consultancy for black women who find it very difficult to decode the beauty messages out there, usually not created with them in mind. My aim is to share the information I’ve learnt and still learning along the way from a black perspective. Which products work well for our hair and skins, which treatments we should avoid – that sort of thing.

I also want to drive conversations and provide safe platforms for black women to get together and talk about some unique challenges that we may not necessarily feel comfortable discussing in the company of our men or our white friends. We need our own spaces of affirmation, where we don’t have to put anyone before ourselves. Where we can just be selfish and have fun – while learning more about why we look the way we do and how to engage with our skin tone, our hair texture, the size of our lips, etc.

I would love for us to get to a place where we feel “good enough” and the grooming part just becomes part of the fun and pamper – because we deserve it. Why black women, you ask? Well, because we are the most disadvantaged in a world that favours men and whiteness.

Who is The Matte Project for and how will it help them?

It’s for black women. It is to help the women make better informed grooming decisions when they buy skincare products or choose make-up. It is also a fine edit for the black consumer so she never has to ask “will this work on my skin/hair?” Everything we do is from a black perspective.

Beauty to you is…health. Get more info and keep up to date with Mathahle here.  Catch Mathahle’s expert beauty advice in BONA magazine every month from November.