the matte project


Beauty Journey: Kwakho Qongqo

Name: Kwakho Qongqo

Age: 33

Occupation: Social Entrepreneur

Back in 2010, I would see teenage girls from the townships of Port Elizabeth drinking midweek and used to wonder why they were not at school or doing something with their lives, so I decided to host a camp for black teenage girls from “underserved areas” in 2011 and called it Golden Teens Camp. We’ve been hosting these camps ever since….but now we call them Young Women Leadership Camps. Is this my dream job? Almost! The feeling that I get at the end of each camp is absolutely amazing. I’ll be very happy when they are running all over Africa, without me being there.


I was born in a small, dusty town called Cala in the Eastern Cape – to a loving family of 5 kids. I have two gorgeous older sisters and two beautiful-hearted handsome baby brothers. My parents raised us with lots of love but we weren’t spoilt. They encouraged us to be independent and do things ourselves, avoid relying on people to get things done but most importantly, they just loved seeing us taking care of each other and we actually all ended up being the best of friends! All 5 of us are literally best friends. I guess that came from the way they were both raised by their families. I truly had a great childhood. Sometimes I look at my son (oh, I have the most gorgeous 7 year old boy ever) and feel so bad that he doesn’t get to explore as much as I did back in Cala and our village, kuNgwarhu…where we would wake up and just go to the mountain for the day because it was that safe. I did all sorts of boyish stuff because I was a hectic tomboy until my early 20’s. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a single thing about my childhood…my most beautiful memories must be from the first 10 years of my life.


 My mom was & still is such a lady (at 63). Apparently my dad wouldn’t allow her to put on makeup and wear pants until the day she found her voice (I think my paternal grandmother had something to do with it) and started doing what made her happy. I have never seen her leave the house without makeup and heels…even if we’re at the village, she rocks her heels. She used to tell us to always take care of our skin.  She used the Oil of Olay 3 step routine that her mom introduced her to but later changed to Clinique. To this day, (Elizabeth Arden’s) Red Door perfume still reminds me of my childhood and our family trips. Now she’s a proper MAC girl, from foundation to lipsticks. It’s a struggle when my sisters and I are all home at the same time,then lipsticks go missing and people end up with colours that they never came with….but it’s all love I guess. I’m sure my mom’s just happy that we all finally caught up because for the longest time, none of us were like her.


 I used to be a moisturizer-only kinda girl. When I started modelling, the makeup artists hardly got my shade right so that totally put me off makeup for a while. It used to be so difficult to find the correct shade that was perfect for a Black face back in the day. Now, we are finally at a point where we are even spoilt with options! It was a rather interesting journey to get to where I am today….MAC, Elizabeth Arden, Revlon, Bobbi Brown and MAC again later…I have found what really works and I can finally say, I LOVE MAKE UP! I used to be one of those “deep natural sisters” from Cape Town with big natural hair and no makeup… I was a proper sister of the soil (let’s blame my dad for the PAC ideology there) but I’ve learnt that whether you have makeup on or not, that has nothing to do with who you are and what you’re all about. Depending on which side of the bed I wake up on, I move from Lauren Hill to Rihanna’s face nowadays, lashes and all. I can be whoever I want to be, without losing myself. It really has been an interesting journey.


So I read somewhere a few months ago that an average woman uses 12-16 products on her face a day and I thought that was ridiculous…until I started counting the products that I use every morning, from the cleanser to the blush…let’s just say, they really knew what they were talking about!

I’ve never been one to experience any problems with my skin. I think this might have something to do with my genes – both my parents have amazing skin. However, my mom has always told us that prevention is better than cure so we must take care of our skin. I struggled a bit with my skin when I moved to Johannesburg a few years ago so I stopped using Garnier and changed to Clinique. It looked and felt amazing for a while until I turned 30, then I started getting weird patches, totally freaked me out. I went for a facial and was told that what I had been using was too harsh for my skin type and was introduced Guinot. My skin has never felt better!

 I use Guinot’s 4 step routine (BiOxygen Cleansing Foam, instant cleansing water, serum and hydrazine because my skin gets really dry in winter). I swear by Clinique’s All About Eyes Rich to avoid dark circles and lines. The thought of lines and wrinkles gives me sleepless nights. The Dermalogica sunscreen (Protection 50 Sport) is amazing for under the makeup as it doesn’t make you look grey or shiny! I exfoliate twice a week using Nivea Skin Refinish Scrub (I love it! The fact that it’s amazing on the pocket doesn’t hurt) with a face-brush then I follow up with the soothing Dermalogica’s sebum clearing masque. I love how my skin feels after that.


After trying a lot of brands, I’m finally in an amazing relationship with MAC (I left and came back and now we get each other). I use their Studio Fix liquid foundation because it doesn’t have much oil but also doesn’t make you look too matte. (Depending on the day or season) In summer I use a MAC blotting powder to control the shine on my t-zone. I don’t use it much in winter though (unless I’m going out) because I actually like that bit of shine…or let’s just call it a “glow”. After the blot powder, I finish off by using the MAC Mineralize powder for the real glow! I always thread my brows so I just use a brow pencil to fill them. For an eye liner, I swear by the Indian Kohl Eyeliners, they lasts the whole day. You don’t find them smudged below your eye they stay where you applied them all day. Plus, they’re great on the pocket. Mascara, blush and everything else is MAC but sometimes I use other brands on the lips… I love exploring with colours, just for fun.


Believe or not, the hair took a knock too when I moved to Joburg. I had to change to Mizani from Dark and Lovely, that’s if I haven’t shaved everything off by the way. After all the colouring, cutting, perming and everything else that I’ve put my hair and scalp thRough… I think we (my hair and I) have finally gotten to a place where things have stabilized. It is the healthiest it’s ever been (relaxed) and am enjoying it. I just prefer keeping it in plaits though, it’s easier to maintain that way and my stylist (Precious from Barbielicious Hair Spa) doesn’t pull….especially the front (my poor hairline). I also try to treat my hair better now with frequent treatments. Even when I wash it at home, I use a wide tooth comb when drying it. I read that from a Marie Claire beauty editor a few years ago.


Oh my word, I can’t wait for the Nike brows to stop! The weaves that cover the whole head and kill your hairline and lastly, the new brow trend that brushes your brows the opposite direction so that they look like they’re standing, I’m gonna have to pass that one too, thanks!


I can never get over how gorgeous Khanyi Dhlomo is and she just gets more and more beautiful with time. I have a feeling that maybe the way she carries herself has something to do with why I like her so much though…


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