Recently, when OKOKO Cosmétiques re-launched its skincare collection, I took this opportunity to conduct a candid Q & A session with the effervescent, forthright, and talented Oyéta Catherine (the founder of OKOKO Cosmétiques).
Greenchicgirl: Why did you relaunch OKOKO skincare products? What prompted you to create elevated formulas?
I love to listen to our customers and getting their feedback is important! So based on the feedback that I received from our customers, I decided to work toward a better formula that would meet our customers’ needs and increase the efficacy, potency and results of our products.
I hear a lot of green beauty brands are afraid to include actives in their formulations. And our customers want more efficacy for their money. Green beauty is rapidly evolving and we have to adapt. People are savvy with skincare and I feel they are now ready and expecting more innovation from the brands that sell to them.
I understand that and that is why we decided to find a way to “make our mark” differently. For us it is through innovation, R & D and exploring new ways of formulating, that include much needed, clinically tested actives for more results.
What you need to know about the elevated formulas…
If you’ll look at our elevated products, they are multi-functional, which is also something we wanted to provide; product that doesn’t have just one purpose but has several purposes and that can work in different ways for your skin.
The Les 16 Précieux Oil, for example, yes it has 16 organic beauty oils but what’s different from other face oils in the market? – Yes, I’m aware that there are a lot of face oils on the market – we are using natural retinol (i.e., Backuchiol) and other actives in our formulations, which is not seen much in the green beauty market right now. We are also using White Lupin extract, which is great to help firm the skin. Obviously, when you’re trying to help customers prevent signs of aging, you do want to include ingredients or actives that can provide those benefits.
Les 16 Précieux also has fermented willow bark extract, which is definitely something unusual for a face oil. You don’t see many fermented ingredients in face oils. Why do we use it then? Because it helps to increase hydration and has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits. So you have a face oil that’s multi-functional; this beauty oil hydrates, repairs, prevents signs of aging, has natural retinol; and it won’t break you out (the majority of oils used are non-to-low comedogenic). I have heard lot of people say that they are afraid of using face oils so we kept that in mind while meticulously choosing the ratio of each ingredients.
We do extensive research to study the formula, to make sure it’s balanced and provide results to our customers and provide a product that offers great value for their money. People have the right to get the best products for their investment; so we have to work harder and go above and beyond to make our products better! So I put my ego aside (giggles), took note of the constructive feedback and went ahead and improved my products!
Another example is our Sublime balm – we have improved it with more tomato lycopene, which is rich in antioxidants and helps to defend skin against environmental elements. We also added AHA – oil soluble AHA – which helps with irregular skin textures; smooths, and brightens skin tone. So you have a balm that hydrates, protects and repairs like most balms; but it does more.
The Dragon’s Blood serum is another multi-functional product that can be used to hydrate your skin, to clear your skin from small imperfections, to soothe, and to help prevent signs of aging.
So each of these products, I feel, are special; they include unusual ingredients that you don’t see a lot in the green beauty skincare industry and that helps OKOKO to stand apart. If you look at the formula, you can recognize, each product offers multi-functional benefits and includes active ingredients that are balanced. We do the research for you (although we encourage you to do it too), and this helps us offer a unique skincare experience to our customers.
I would like to further add that we realize by doing this we are forming a new niche in the green beauty industry where people can look at green beauty as “potent green beauty”: a green beauty brand with lots of actives! A lot of people say they love conventional beauty products because they contain a lot of actives, and (perhaps subconsciously they think) the products “work better” or they ”just don’t achieve the same results” with green beauty products. My customer feedback is they want innovation and more results and they want natural and green products…essentially “next level” luxury green beauty.
So we are going to innovate more. So I see OKOKO as “transcending” these needs; we are helping to create a niche to meet this demand. This also helps us define ourselves and stand out as a “brand.”
Greenchicgirl: What do you keep in mind while researching new and unique ingredients for your products?
First off, I’ll search ingredients based on either a product I’m trying to formulate – a product that people want… as I said, in the future, we only want to create products that are needed. For example, say I want to create a healing balm, I’ll look for ingredients that have soothing, calming, rejuvenating and “healing”, properties – ingredients that will be beneficial for that purpose. I do a lot of research and for me it’s important that the ingredients are of the highest quality, natural, organic (whenever possible) fresh and pure.
Even when I find an ingredient, I’m going to read about it. For example, if it’s sold by a supplier, I’ll start by testing the ingredient myself to confirm its efficacy and that it meets the requirements mentioned above (by the way, we don’t use fillers such as water, only fresh, pure high-quality botanical extracts such as aloe vera, cucumber water and licorice, they provide more benefits than just some minor hydration). If it’s a herb or an oil, I would like it to be organic or wild crafted because then we can be sure there are no chemicals or pesticides in it. As I said, there’s a lot of research involved. We put time and efforts to select the best suppliers for our raw materials, we never stop looking and regularly check and test our ingredients to offer you the freshest and most potent products possible. We require and keep all MSDS and Certificate of Analysis of our ingredients. Although we love sourcing our material from exotic places from around the world, in 2018, we are going to partner with local farmers (here in British-Columbia) to source some of our herb and botanical directly from them. For example, our glacial marine clay (used in our D’tox Noire mask) is sourced locally in Nanaimo, British-Columbia.
Finally, the way it’s grown is really important– is it grown in a sustainable way or not? For example, if it’s a raw material like an oil – is it fair trade? Who is growing it? How is it harvested? If given the option, I try as much as possible to source ingredients that are sustainable and fair trade because I feel we are also impacting other people’s lives…that matters to me.
To sum up – what I look for in an ingredient: first off I search for ingredients based on the purpose of a product; once I have found those ingredients, we study and test them to make sure they really work and are compatible. And before I forget, we are a vegan and cruelty-free brand. We make sure people who are selling to us are not testing on animals. The best way to ensure that is to ask them or even to make them sign an agreement stating that the ingredients they are selling have not been tested on animals. This is really important for me because we want to promote the truth. So there’s lot of homework that goes on behind the scenes before we even start to formulate with a new ingredient.
It’s important that that the ingredients are of the highest quality, natural, organic (whenever possible) fresh and pure. We put time and efforts to select the best suppliers for our raw materials, we never stop looking and regularly check and test our ingredients to offer you the freshest and most potent products possible. We are a vegan and cruelty-free brand. We make sure people who are selling to us are not testing on animals.
Greenchicgirl: Since the USP of OKOKO skincare products is its unique ingredients and formulations, which unique ingredients have excited or excite you the most?
My favorite actives – Of course, there’s Dragon Blood extract (found in L’élixir de Pureté) and we have talked about its properties in previous articles written by Shobhita and available on our blog. So I love this ingredient so much that we decided to incorporate it in other products that we will be launching later in 2018. Keep an eye out, 2018 will be full of amazing surprises and new discoveries. The best is yet to come. (wink)
Bakuchiol: It’s the first natural alternative to retinol for anti-aging and acne. Bakuchiol provides similar benefit without the side effects. Also, research has shown its ability to boost the efficacy of retinol serums. The best of both worlds. Sensitive skins have long been hesitant to use retinol and it’s not recommended if you are pregnant. We are excited to offer you a natural alternative that truly works! Bakuchiol is 100% natural and extracted and purified from Babchi seeds, which is used in traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine. I absolutely love this ingredient found in our 16 Précieux beauty oil.
Another ingredient I love is fermented willow bark. Because it’s been fermented, it provides the benefits of willow bark but with increased potency and efficacy. It’s a great ingredient for anti-inflammatory and soothing products. It allows increased hydration and keeping the skin hydrated is very important. In 2018, we will be using more fermented ingredients in our products. Why? Studies show that the potency and efficacy of ingredients are increased through fermentation as well as antioxidant activity. Also, fermented ingredients are better absorbed by the skin and have the benefit of acting as natural preservatives (to prolong shelf-life naturally).
In 2018, we will be using more fermented ingredients into our products. Why? Studies show that the potency and efficacy of ingredients are increased through fermentation as well as antioxidant activity.
And, Tomato Lycopene: It was one of the key ingredients in our Sublime Balm and our Summer mist (lycopene bioferment) and we are hoping to include it in other products in 2018. It’s an antioxidant-rich active that serves to protect and repair the skin from damage and stresses caused by environmental pollutants and it has significant anti-aging properties.
AHA (alpha hydroxyl acids): Whether they are water soluble or oil soluble, this active truly delivers results you want to see. Skin dryness, irregular, rough skin texture, dullness and breakouts (around the chin) are common concerns people have. AHAs are proven to improve skin tone, smooth skin and brighten the complexion. A perfect active to reveal a gorgeous complexion.
Pomegranate is also a huge favorite. We use different forms of pomegranate extracts such as pomegranate sterols, organic pomegranate oil, pomegranate CO2 extract and we even use pomegranate enzymes. It’s actually my favorite fruit. I’m obsessed.
Greenchicgirl: I heard that innovation and being seen as a trendsetter has become important at OKOKO, can you please tell us more?
Yes we want to become recognized for creating stand out products that really improve people’s lives and make our mark at the same time. How do we stand out in a crowded market? We are innovators. Giving the best to our dearest customers is extremely important to us at OKOKO Cosmetiques; therefore a year before we start talking about our unique ingredients, we do all the research for you. Before the success of our uniquely researched formulations, we expected that people would be inspired and inevitably want to include them and inspire themselves from our way of formulating. Although we are glad to know we are becoming the trendsetters (in our sub niche), and inspiring others; we want true authenticity to be rewarded and full transparency to be shared to you about the extensive work that goes on behind the scenes which I explained earlier. What you get at OKOKO is the knowledge behind each creation (findings), clever formulas and more results. We call it “high performance green beauty” and we are dedicated to provide it. We want people to be excited to see what’s coming from OKOKO and we want to inspire our peers as well. It’s incredibly rewarding.
Greenchicgirl: Lastly, I know it’s a tricky one but, if you had to choose, which one would be your favorite OKOKO invention so far?
Shobhita, it’s really hard to answer. All my creations are special and unique for me. I can’t pinpoint at just one…But like I said, keep an eye out because OKOKO has some wonderful surprises for you in 2018. (she giggles and we sign off!)