Our intern, Nefertari Galeta, has set off to NYC indefinitely. Before her departure last week, she sat down with TMP founder, Mathahle Stofile, to ask her all the beauty and career questions she’s been wondering about as she gets ready to start a new life and career in the big apple.
Nef: They always say there are particular signs that occur in your life that give you some of indication of where you’ll end up. If you look back now, what were those signs and did you always know you would end up in beauty?
Mat: There were definitely signs, which by the way I’d sort of forgotten about but my mother keeps reminding me. For example, I’ve always been obsessed with grooming my family’s nails. Ironically, I’m not so great with my own nails but I give a banging mani and pedi. I’m also good with hair (although I choose to keep mine short). In high school, I was constantly fixing my friends’ eyebrows and whenever the school birthday event happened annually, there was a queue in my room of people waiting to get their hair French braided (the school insisted on this hairstyle on this particular day – go figure). At the time, though, I had no idea what other work opportunities there were in beauty except becoming a beauty therapist – and that thought never appealed to me so beauty just never popped up as a career opportunity in my mind. Until much later.
Nef: As women, we have to constantly fight for a seat at the table and fight twice as hard when we add race to it. In beauty particularly, what were/are some of the challenges you’ve faced with regards to that?
Mat: Well, the beauty industry like many others (possibly all others) is owned and run by white men. The biggest players in this industry in terms of brands are all under 3-5 larger companies. I look at my own makeup bag and toiletries and realize that I’m just pumping money into 3 principal companies to serve all my grooming needs. Of course they present themselves to me, the consumer, as 17 different products in my bathroom under different brands but in reality, they all belong to 3-5 companies. None of them owned by black women. None of them owned by any women – even though some were started by women. This really pains me. Black women are huge consumers of this industry and yet the resources needed to start our own brands, market them and distribute them to a wider market are just not as easily available. This is slowly changing and we, as women, have to wake up to this fact and take full advantage. Niche beauty brands are popping up everywhere and these are mainly female owned, which gets me excited. Representation is important. It’s not enough for brands to just put black faces in their campaigns anymore. We can’t have majority white companies milking black content but not actually doing anything to empower the same black people. I’m very annoyed by the lack of us sitting in these positions of power yet we’re being used to be at the forefront of what gets put out there. We also want to make decisions – not just give away our ideas. It’s time for us to create sustainable brands and build legacies like the Esteé Lauders of this world.
Nef: If you had a chance to speak to your younger self, what five things you would say to her?
Mat: Let’s see…
Don’t be so sensitive to what people have to say about you. Usually, it has less to do with you and more about them.
Put no one on a pedestal, including your parents. We’re all just human trying to find our way through life.
Trust your instincts more. Spend more time with yourself just listening to your thoughts. There’s a lot there…
Be more courageous. Speak up.
Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
Nef: When you think back to your first job in beauty, what’s your fondest memory from back then?
Mat: Definitely my first product launch event. I still never get tired of those. They are usually really beautiful, so much effort goes into them and you get to catch up with other beauty editors and of course the clients hosting you. The industry is huge but can feel so small because it is quite intimate. I’ve built some beautiful friendships from my job as a beauty editor.
Nef: What’s the wildest beauty tip you’ve ever tried?
Mat: It’s not really a tip, it’s a spa treatment. I know you know the one – where you put your feet into a pond and let little fish eat at your dead skin. It’s a form of exfoliation and when I tried it I lasted exactly 3 seconds. The sensation grossed me out a little bit but it’s a very effective treatment if you’re in desperate need of a pedi or have very dry feet.
Nef: When you went to your first beauty launch, what were some of the things you wish you knew then that you know now?
Mat: The scientific terms used to describe ingredients in products! I remember sitting there jotting down all these huge words and frantically Googling them afterwards.
Nef: What are your top five beauty products you could never do without?
Mat: Only 5? Hahaha! Ok…
QMS exfoliant fluid – I exfoliate regularly (almost daily) and it’s done wonders for my skin. The trick is to find the exfoliator that’s right for your skin.
Eucerin Gel-Cream Mattifying Sunscreen – Best of the best. Everything you hate about sunscreen? You won’t find it in this one.
Bio-Oil Tissue Oil – I’m addicted to the subtle clean scent. This stuff is great for softening and nourishing my skin all over my body. No, it doesn’t take away stretch marks (show me a topical product that does) but it can save you from getting them in the first place. It’s best applied to damp skin.
A good face wash (I have several go-to’s depending on my skin’s condition) – Clean skin is very important to me. Makeup or not, I like to know my face is thoroughly cleansed morning and night.
Eucerin Aquaphor – I use this for just about everything especially in winter: mixed with my hand cream, as a lip balm, as an eye cream before bed, I’ve used it as a bum cream on both my babies, cuticle cream, heel balm – anything that needs moisture and nourishment. Plus, it can be used on cut/open skin. I’ve applied it to skin burns and seen wonderful results.
Nef: Any words of wisdom for anyone trying to get into the beauty world?
Mat: You have to love it otherwise you will die of utter boredom.
Nef: Talk us through your skincare routine, what does it look like?
Mat: The products I use change all the time. I am loyal to very few brands or products as my job is to try and test just about everything that gets sent to me. I do have a few staples though…
So every morning I wash my face using a foaming cleanser. In the evenings I usually double cleanse (start with a cleansing oil follow with a foaming cleanser.) This method stops my skin from drying out or producing excess oil/sebum. I like Dermalogica’s Pre-cleanse or the Lipidol face cleansing oil. Neutrogena’s Deep Cleanse face wash has been my go-to since high school but I also love Dermaceutic’s Foamer 5 with glycolic acid. I also use their (Dermaceutic) Turn Over cream at night, which is quite intense but I’m all about intense when it comes to skin care. I want to see results! I’m currently mixing Clinique’s Fresh Pressed Vitamin C booster into my moisturiser. I’m using Dolce & Gabbana’s Aurealux Radiance Moisturiser, which I’m so pleasantly surprised with. I don’t usually trust designer brands when it comes to skin care (I gravitate towards doctor brands) but this stuff is truly amazing. It gives me a glow all day and keeps my skin supple in this dry Jhb winter. Even though it’s scented it doesn’t feel harsh on the skin. I probably shouldn’t be such a skeptic because Dior and Givenchy have also produced some really beautiful skincare products in the past. Under the moisturizer I always wear a serum. I’m in love with the Neostrata Skin Active Antioxidant Defense Serum. Once in a while I use the Clinique Fresh Pressed Vitamin C powder cleanser to resurface the skin. I can’t stand it when my skin is clogged up or has a rough texture – so I’m a little obsessed with exfoliating and resurfacing. The Clinique Fresh Pressed is a 7 day system but I’ve been using it over several weeks skipping days. I use the QMS exfoliant fluid every second or third night for some intense exfoliation. Every morning I apply Eucerin Sun Gel Cream Oil Control SPF 50 over my moisturizer. I love Bio-Effect’s EGF eye serum. It’s the only eye product I’ve ever tried that didn’t make me feel like I’m being scammed. But to be fair, I haven’t tried enough…
Oh, and one last product that I can’t possibly exaggerate how good it is is Skin Ceuticals Phloretin CF antioxidant serum. The CE Ferulic is also apparently good – but I haven’t used it as much as the Phloretin. These protect the skin against the sun, pollution and other nasties throughout the day. They basically keep the skin looking young.
Nef: What beauty/skincare tip have you kept in rotation because it’s that good?
Mat: Wash your face correctly and thoroughly. If your skin is not properly cleansed, you are wasting the products you apply to it. Invest in night products and take that time every night to feed your skin with active ingredients. Also, never underestimate a good facial! You’ll save plenty of money on products if you go for a professional facial every six weeks or so.