How Two Chic London Beauty Founders Get Ready for a Big Meeting
Written by: Megan O’Neill
Published on: April 6, 2023
The secret to looking (and feeling) casually polished and arriving on time to your West London office for an investor meeting? For British LIHA Beauty cofounders and friends Liha Okunniwa (above left) and Abi Oyepitan—both girl moms and both remarkably fresh-faced—the answer is a single gorgeously multitasking oil.
“We soak night-blooming tuberose flowers in coconut oil, which is an amazing multitasker: It’s sooo moisturizing, leaves skin silky, and is full of antioxidants. The soaking process is called enfleurage, and it infuses the oil with the most incredible scent,” says Okunniwa, who fell in love with beauty and the mysterious alchemy of botanical scents growing up in Gloucester with her aromatherapist mom.
The oil is a miracle for hair (it smooths frizz and flyaways), the psyche (Okunniwa totes it in her bag to smooth over her hands and cuticles as an instant refresh), and skin (it softens and silkifies like nothing else and makes for a next-level massage).
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Oyepitan wears it as perfume and uses it as bath oil; Okunniwa loves it postshower. “While my body’s still damp, I apply it all over and dance around to air-dry, to get my energy flowing to start the day,” she laughs. “Sometimes I layer it with different kinds of moisturizer—niacinamide body gel, mango butter I bought in Brooklyn.”
The two met in college and bonded over hair care (both wear their curls in natural styles when they’re not in braids) and Nigerian roots. Oyepitan went on to travel the world as an Olympic sprinter, while Okunniwa built a career in art publishing. They both got into clean skin care: Oyepitan doubled down on the black soap, shea butter, and other plucked-from-nature essentials her Nigerian parents had always had in the house, and she brought back shea butter from Nigeria for Okunniwa, who had started making her own formulas. Finally, they joined forces to start a brand. “We love the idea of introducing African beauty secrets to the world—and this notion that there are small things you can do for yourself to shift your whole day,” says Okunniwa.
The two still bond over beauty, and while most days the only makeup they need is their oil, big meeting days require a bit more of a (clean) routine.
Layer Moisture for Long-Lasting Glow
Oyepitan washes her face (and body) with the line’s bergamot-and-palmarosa-perfumed black soap. “It’s made with shea and molasses—a humectant and a great alternative to honey, since we’re a vegan brand,” she says. “Then I smooth on hyaluronic acid, followed by our oil.”
Okunniwa, on the other hand, starts with a layer of moisturizing toner. “I spritz that on, then massage on aloe vera gel as serum,” she says. “I love eye cream—being inside with all the central heating makes my skin so dry. And I seal everything in with our oil or a cream, tapping it in with my fingers.”
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Some Days Call for Tinted Moisturizer
“I want it to look like there’s nothing on my skin, so I go for tinted moisturizer, applying it with a brush all over in a thin layer,” Okunniwa says.
Oyepitan spritzes on rose water to give her skin a gleamy sheen that looks as summery and fresh over Zoom as it does in person.
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Add Pops of Sheer Color for Glow
“I love tinted balm for my cheeks and lips,” says Oyepitan. “I trace highlighter under my eyes and under my brows for a brightening effect.”
Bronzer is Okunniwa’s secret weapon: “It warms up my whole face—I use it as blush and blend it angled up to sculpt my cheeks (I used to apply it in that wild ’90s way, but my 18-year-old daughter is teaching me how to do it right). I smooth it over my eyelids, too.”
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Wake Up Your Eyes
Okunniwa swears by mascara. “It’s so brightening when I just do my top lashes,” she says. “I go over the bottom lash line with black liner.”
Brow pencil, says Oyepitan, is magic for her sparse brows (“I just fill them in where they need a little extra”), and a creamy, buildable concealer dabbed over her under-eyes is a miracle for feigning a full night’s sleep (she wakes up early to take her four-year-old daughter to nursery school).
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