Photo courtesy of Erich Saide
A Results-Driven Skin Routine
to Delight the Senses
Dip into any one of Okoko’s skin-plumping formulas and the silky textures, brilliant colors, gorgeous botanical scents, and noticeably radiance-boosting results will hook you instantly. The Sublime Balm, for example, is a velvety, deep-sunrise-orange ultramoisturizing treatment that suffuses skin with a warm sheen the second it melts in. The raspberry-sorbet-colored Beauté Majestique Cleanser, a multitasking milky gel, works as both an exfoliating cleanser and a face mask that you can leave on for a more-intense skin detox. While the products themselves are all it took for us to fall in love with the Vancouver-based brand, its founder—who’s also its magician-level formulator—Oyéta Kokoroko (above), is one of the chicest, most gorgeous, and most charming skin-care gurus we’ve ever met.
Kokoroko emigrated at five from Togo to Canada. (“Okoko” combines her first and last names; “kokoroko” means “great” in her native Kabiyè). Now she’s opened up a way to experience the brand in person, with her first boutique, L’Atelier Okoko, in Vancouver’s gallery-and-quaint-café-studded Gastown neighborhood. “This is a stressful time,” says Kokoroko. “I wanted to create a space where people could unwind, be pampered, and build their own skin-care regimen.” You can get skin consultations and facials (if you book a consultation with Kokoroko herself, she creates a serum right there in front of you, customized for your skin concerns and scent preferences), relax in the lounge with an herbal tea, and try every Okoko product, of course. “We sell organic supplements and wellness products, too,” Kokoroko says. (Face coverings are mandatory, and appointment schedules are designed to avoid crowding.) The space also functions as Okoko’s research and development lab.
Kokoroko’s journey to skin care started with her own struggle as an adult with problem skin (though it’s hard to imagine her complexion wasn’t always flawless). She started to question the ingredients in the products she was using and ended up going back to school to study aromatherapy, herbal medicine, and product formulation. “I started making my own products at home, and my friends would try them and love them,” Kokoroko says. “It felt so good to know I was giving people something made with beautiful ingredients that helped them feel better. I knew I wanted to turn that into a business.”
Researching ingredients—and new combinations of them to help firm, smooth, and improve skin—is her favorite part of the job, Kokoroko says. That and the prospect that she might help another woman like herself reach for her dream: “I think a lot about setting an example,” she says. “I’m an immigrant, and we need more Black women running businesses to look up to. Anything is possible if you trust yourself.”
The Easiest 3-Step Glow
Routine—for All Skin Types
Kokoroko’s game plan for brighter, healthy-looking skin hinges on powerful botanicals at every step and works morning and night.
“When you clear away all the oil, grime, makeup, and dead cells, any serum or moisturizer you apply afterward penetrates more effectively,” says Kokoroko. “Majestique chemically exfoliates with salicylic acid and papaya enzymes and physically exfoliates with bamboo powder to leave your skin smoother and brighter. The salicylic is great for breakout-prone skin, too.” Apply the cleanser to damp skin—the gorgeous deep-raspberry-red shade, which comes from skin-soothing gromwell root extract, turns petal pink as the cleanser emulsifies into a creamy milk.
Brighten Skin with Antioxidants
“Vitamin C and niacinamide are well tolerated by most skin types, and I like them for helping to soften the look of blemishes and dark spots and brighten skin,” says Kokoroko. Look for these ingredients in serums.
Moisturize with Balm or Oil (or Both)
“I love smoothing the balm on over serum to seal everything in, and sometimes I mix it with face oil for an extra-moisturizing, creamy effect,” says Kokoroko. Her Sublime Balm’s intense apricot color comes from sea buckthorn, carrot, and tomato oils. “It’s beautiful in summer if you’ve been in the sun all day—it’s incredibly soothing and gives your skin a real glow.” Kokoroko swears by the retinol alternative bakuchiol in face oils for brightening, firming, and line-smoothing. GOOPGENES face oil is made with bakuchiol, and it’s clinically proven to help diminish the appearance of wrinkles, smooth texture, and moisturize.