Did we catch you staring at the woman in the photo above? We don't blame you. That's Julia Ese Otobo, a Nigerian MSA model, founder of the blog NappyEse, and generally breathtakingly human who just so happens to have perfect skin. We first met Otobo when we sought her advice for a story about how people detoxify their bodies around the world. Needless to say, we promptly became obsessed with her colorful-cool aesthetic and beautiful, even, blemish-free complexion.
Curious to know exactly how Otobo achieves her airbrushed look (occupational hazard), we got back in touch and had her spill. "My routine is mostly very simple," she told us. "Less is more, and the more natural the better." Natural products from the drugstore or health food store make up the entirety of Otobo's regimen. "It's more environmentally friendly, healthier because there's less processing and chemicals, and easier on the pockets," she said. Indeed, the most expensive product in Otobo's skincare routine costs a mere $15.
Care to know how this Nigerian beauty cares for her skin? Just keep scrolling.
For Otobo, every morning starts with a bath to soothe her mind and body and prepare her for the day. "Every morning immediately after my bath, I [hydrate] my skin with my daily moisturizer," Otobo says. She uses simple drugstore moisturizers on her face and body and always mixes in essential oils, which are at the center of her routine.
"For my daily moisturizer, I mix one-half Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion ($11), one-half coconut oil, and some drops of lavender, my favorite oil," she says. To make sure her skin stays soft throughout the day, Otobo carries a combination of macadamia and lavender oils in her purse, which she mixes on her own and uses to remoisturize whenever needed.
As a model, Otobo is often required to wear heavy makeup on the job, so day to day, she keeps things minimal. This helps her skin stay so clear and glowy. "Currently," she just uses "some concealer to even out my birthmark on a day I feel like having perfect skin," she says. "On days I have to go to castings, I put on some eyebrows, mascara, and a little bit of blush." (Re-create Otobo's look with Nyx's Micro Brow Pencil, Pacifica's Aquarian Gaze Mascara, and RMS's Lip2Cheek.)
Two-Step Facial Cleansing
Completely removing her makeup at the end of the day is essential to Otobo's routine—and she does so on the cheap. "In the evenings, I wipe off my makeup with Garnier SkinActive Cleansing Water and wash my face with African Black Soap," she says. SheaMoisture's African Black Soap With Shea Butter helps control acne and excess oil while calming the skin and leaving it soft and smooth. All for less than $5.
Essential Oil Treatment
"I am a big believer in natural oils when it comes to skincare," Otobo says, and not just for moisturizing. After she removes her makeup but before moisturizing, Otobo always treats her skin with an essential oil blend. "I apply … tea tree, rosemary, or peppermint to any pimple or problem spots," she says. (To avoid irritation, blend the essential oil with a carrier oil like jojoba before applying to the face.)
Otobo's exfoliation routine is a weekly ritual. "Once a week, [I] do a mud mask with SheaMoisture's African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask," she says. This affordable mask effectively clears the skin of excess oil and congestion using all-natural ingredients: no parabens, phthalates, mineral oils, formaldehyde, or any other icky chemicals. Otobo swears by it for flawless, blemish-free skin.
Want more model skincare tips? Take a look inside the mind-blowing skincare routine of a Swedish model.