the matte project


Beauty Journey: Sthembile Shabangu

Name: Sthembile “Sthe” Shabangu,


Occupation: A communications Professional and a mother of 3 future leaders


I was born in Manzini, Swaziland but because my grandparents wanted me to obtain dual citizenship, I immediately moved to Soweto at the age of 6 weeks. Due to political unrest at that time I never made it back to Swaziland until I was 6 years old. I then started primary schooling at St Mary’s in Mbabane until standard 2 (Grade 4) and returned to South Africa at the age of 10 when my parents divorced. We moved in with my mom’s family in Soweto.

 From my mother’s side I have an older brother and a younger sister. From my Dad;s side I have 17 siblings including my younger sister. I am the eldest sister, the future aunt of the family. My dad still resided in Swaziland but we also have a 2nd home in Pongola –  my mom lives in Soweto. I grew up with my uncles under a very strict household. As a young woman growing up in Soweto my grandparents were very protective of me, I hardly had a social life, my life was books and chores.

I picked a lot of my fussy habits from my grandfather who was an astute gentleman. He slept in whites sheets, wore a clean white vest and a pure white shirt every day of the work week. He loved his music and whisky. My domestic influence definitely comes from my gran who always made sure our home had a warm cooked meal. You could smell good food miles away. My gran was ann amazing, very kind woman who used to kissed me goodnight every day before I went to sleep. If I can be half the woman my Gogo was, I would feel like I have fulfilled my dream of being a great mother.


I love my work and what I do. What I really enjoy the most at the moment is the opportunity to travel.  My travel highlight is definitely the “Masai Mara” in Serengeti – indescribable experience.

I have always been curious about farming and I would like to think this is the Swati woman in me. Swazi women are great farmers and I would like to retire as a farmer… a wine farmer to be specific.


With age I have grown to love and respect my skin more. My rule is no going to bed without cleansing my face – no matter how long the night may be. Water is the best beauty routine and its free.

In the evenings I clean my skin with L’Oréal Paris Eye Makeup Remover then use a wet towel to remove rest of the make-up. Then I use Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. I need to invest more on eye cream..

 In the mornings – it depends, really. My sister Dr Pholile Mpofu (dermatologist) made me appreciate Dove soap and sunscreen, so my daily routine is a Dove soap rinse and sunscreen (BIODERMA – Photoderm Anti Age Spf 30+) But when I am traveling, which I do a lot, I take along Clinique Mild Liquid Facial Soap for a boost to my skin.


For a foundation I am in love with the Estee Lauder Double Wear AND for powder I alternate between Mac Studio Fix Powder and Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer pressed powder. I just love the packaging as well. Lipstick – not loyal at all but my favorite at the moment is the MAC VIVA Glam, maybe because I know that a portion of the sales goes to charity .


I used to think it was Michael Kors for a long time, then it was Narcisso Rodrigues but lately I am addicted to my KISMET from Neoluxurybar in Sandton Square. I love that it is owned by two black women – The Lwana sisters. I want to support black excellence and I will buy their product not just because it is Black owned but trust me, they have taken perfume to another level.

 A beauty trend I wish I could master is contouring. Also any eye related beauty technique.

For as long as I have lived beauty has been political. I honestly believe we are not ready to talk about Black beauty without reflecting on its politics. For as long as I don’t hear conversations about White beauty, it will remain political. If it’s not the hair, it’s the colour of our skin, between being too dark to being a “Yellow Bone.” On a lighter note, I am raising 3 beautiful young women who are different shades of brown and I am teaching them they are all beautiful in their own way. Beauty actually comes from within, from how you carry yourself. When you are confident and happy, you exude beauty. Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.

The portrayal of beauty in media doesn’t help. Yes we have seen the (token) Lupita and Viola but it’s deeper than that. Do you ever see any baby adverts featuring dark skin babies? No. It starts there.

My ultimate beauty crush? OMG Viola Davis, no doubt. She is aging gracefully, I want to age like that. I love that woman. She is fierce and beautiful.


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