Oyéta Kokoroko was studying naturopathic medicine in Montreal in 2010 when she began paying more attention to the labels on her beauty products. For the most part, the ingredients she came across—endocrine-disrupting parabens, irritating perfumes and the like—weren’t pretty. So the then 19-year-old began crafting skincare goods in her kitchen using natural elements like shea butter and nettle leaves. “I started exploring ingredients and making concoctions for my own skin,” she says.
Almost a decade later, that curious pastime has become Okoko Cosmétiques. Now based in Vancouver, Kokoroko produces clean, luxurious skincare products that steer clear of the cheap fillers and potentially harmful components typically found in more conventional beauty items, and instead use high-performance plant-based ingredients that bring the results. The bakuchiol-infused Les 16 Précieux Serum, for instance, works to smooth, plump and hydrate visages, while the Sublime Balm—a buttery whipped cream—soothes and softens with its antioxidant-rich blend of tomato oil, pomegranate extract and astaxanthin. And then there’s Okoko’s Secret du Dragon line, which includes a moisturizing mask that employs Dragon’s Blood—a tree resin said to have anti-inflammatory properties—to melt away make-up and brighten complexions.
The products are formulated by the Togo-born Kokoroko, who is a soon-to-be-certified cosmetic chemist, and crafted in her Gastown studio. Much of Kokoroko’s time is spent poring over scientific research and academic studies to find innovative ingredients that push the envelope in the all-natural beauty realm. “This is what I enjoy most: learning about these ingredients and how they can work together synergistically to produce results,” she says.