Oroma Elewa, Editor, Pop’Africana


"I'm the editor of Pop'Africana, which was originally a biannual magazine, but it's taking on a new form and has now gone digital. Basically, it's serving as a reference point for understanding the types of ideas and innovations that are happening within fashion in Africa. It is also documenting and showcasing contemporary African experiences and interests globally. So, it's very cosmopolitan—not just for the African, but also for any fashion enthusiast who just wants to see a different cultural perspective.

I’ve tried a few things over the years with my skin, but I feel like the best skin remedy for me is the sun. I know that sounds weird, but I drink more water in hot weather and the sun makes my skin glow; it evens out all my dark spots. I share my time between New York and Lagos, Nigeria, and whenever I go home and come back to New York, I can see the difference in my skin. I even have to change my foundation because everything has changed, my pores are tighter, everything.

In terms of products, it took me a long time to figure out what kind of lotion works for my skin. You grow up using anything your older sister or mom had around—you don’t really think, ‘Oh, what do I need for my skin?’ until much later. The first lotion I figured out that worked for my skin was coconut butter from Philosophy, but it was discontinued. I remember going into Sephora and crying, ‘What am I going to do now?’ Then I found the Olive Body Butter by The Body Shop; I've been using it for three years now. It’s lotion, but heaven—it’s butter. And now I don’t take a chance. Every time I go to The Body Shop, I ask them, ‘Are you going to discontinue this? Let me know now so I can start figuring something out.’ They say, ‘No, we’re never going to discontinue it.’ But every time I go to the Body Shop, I stock up because I’m scared now.

For my face, Philosophy's When Hope Is Not Enough Facial Firming Serum and Replenishing Cream work wonders. The serum is light and refreshing when I don't plan to have makeup on, and the moisturizer is rich but doesn’t feel too greasy. It just nourishes my face underneath my makeup.

I really only wear heavy makeup in the winter, when my complexion starts to get a little discolored. I'm a big fan of Bobbi Brown's Oil-Free Even Finish Compact Foundation, and Natural Hue Liquid Makeup from the Queen Collection from CoverGirl [Queen Latifa’s line]. [Laughs] I don’t even care, as long as it blends in very well. And I’ve always lined my eyes since I was little with black pencil, which in a way feels like tradition for every woman. I'm not really particular about the brand of pencil, as long as it's really black, glides easily, and doesn't smudge...too much. I just discovered Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes mascara, the one with the ball brush. It hurts when you make a mistake but when you get it right, you can get individual lashes and I love it. I found out about it in Lagos while doing last-minute makeup in the car on the way to a friend's party. I was like, ‘What the hell is this? It’s a ball! It's so cool!’ Usually most of my friends who can travel out of Nigeria stock up on products when they go to New York or London, and then come back and tease everyone. So the first thing I did when I came back to New York was go straight to Sephora, and I was like, 'Oh my God, it’s here, it’s real!’ I got it, and it works! And I've also just discovered Benetint from Benefit—finally, blush that actually shows up on my complexion!

I’m obsessed with nude lips and for a long time, I couldn't find the perfect shade. I went all over the place and finally I discovered two: Film Noir lipstick from MAC, which I'm wearing now, and Photo by MAC. Sometimes I do two-tone, with Photo on my top lip. Call me crazy...why not? Makeup and beauty products are so much fun, but I will say this: black soap, Shea butter, multivitamins, fruit smoothies, real coconut water from the West Indian spots in Brooklyn, and sleep are my staples.

Everyone who knows me well knows they can’t trust me with my hair. One minute I have super long braids, and the next I have super short hair. My braids are diva. I only get them put in when I go home, where they can get the attention they deserve. I’ve tried getting them done in New York a few times, and I come back crying, sometimes even cutting off my hair out of frustration for spending so much on such nonsense. Back home, you can see it’s actually a real craft, and these girls take real pride in their work. Anything you want can be achieved, and I love getting home service. So, when it comes to braids, it's either Ms. Fumi and her girls in Lagos, or nothing. In between styles, Moroccan Oil hair products are amazing, especially the Treatment and the Restorative Hair Mask.

Of course, braids grow out and then you just have to take them off. I always say this to my friends: ‘For me, success would be having enough money to travel back and forth whenever I want to get my hair done at home, or flying someone in.’ [Laughs] I feel like hair has always been important for any woman of any race, but for black girls it’s different. People always think it’s so easy having natural hair, but I think it’s challenging, even this short. It gets to a certain frustration length, when you don’t want to perm it, weave it, put a wig on, or cut it—and mine’s getting there. This time I promised myself that I’m just going to let my hair grow. 

I just ran into a friend, and she was like, ‘Oroma, I didn’t even recognize you! Where’s your braids?’ I just said, ‘Look mama, sometimes I’m going to have braids. And sometimes, if I don’t go home, I’m going to have short hair.’ But knowing me and my hair, who knows what's going to end up happening."

Oroma Elewa, wearing a top and shorts by Maki Oh, photographed by Emily Weiss in New York.


Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • lola

    I absolutely love Oroma Elewa and I'm so very glad you featured her on this blog. She is so talented and amazingly, amazingly beautiful. A wonderful post!

  • Madison

    Check out those nails. I love it!!


  • anna mei

    YAY! This was The Face that I have allllllways been wishing to see here. I love Oroma! She is such an inspiration, does great, important work, and also seems so candid and fun.

    By the way, I am also butters and oils all the way. Straight up coconut oil is my biggest beauty must-have. It works so well for me that I have even received compliments on the smoothness of my elbows.

  • Amarie

    Love her! She has an amazing magazine and has been at it for so long! So good to see what products she likes!!!

  • http://mavieenrouge.com/ KristieG

    Love Oroma!

  • cclarebear

    She's amazing! Love how she's obsessed with her products not being discontinued - I know how that feels ;)

  • http://calu.typepad.com/ marcela

    I loved this post, she has beautiful features.
    I can so understand when she talks about her hair, because as a black woman I experience many of these things when dealing with my hair.
    This blog keeps getting better, and better.

  • elle

    Which black soap and why?

  • http://twitter.com/Chewing_The_Fad Deb Johnson

    Great little read and thanks for introducing me to Oroma!

  • Benita

    I aboslutely adore that you have someone I can relate to both in hair and skin! I can definitely relate to her. I have natural hair and its harder than when my hair was relaxed.
    This is my new go to beauty blog. Good job!

  • Mariposa

    beautiful post!!! very interesting thema!!! I love Africa prints!!!
    xoxo from germany

  • http://www.stuffthatibought.com/ Elise @ Stuff That I Bought

    Stunning. What an amazing and inviting face - the kind of smile that draws you in and makes you feel at ease.

  • lisbeth

    Who designed her gorgeous dress?

  • mlle p

    I have a Macbook but no probs with the site. I do have the popups turned off for everything though.

  • Carly Lim

    What a wonderful article! She seems like an awesome, personable lady. Interesting tips and tid-bits. Great job, again Emily!

  • ITGNick

    Hi guys, We're working on the navigation issue! Regarding the difference between "The Face" and "The Top Shelf" features: "The Top Shelf" includes photos inside someone's home, of their products, etc, while "The Face" is done more on-the-fly, with one or two portraits.

    • Claudia

      Cool. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Amazine Support

    love her!!!

    create a collage of images on my site like this one I just created http://www.amazine.com/story/536673


  • VotreAmie

    She's absolutely lovely!

  • anon

    gorgeous -- let's see a pic with the beautiful braids!

  • Mrs Singh

    Finally someone is honest enough to say that sun helps her skin! I know for a fact that a little sun improves my skin and just makes it look better. She is beautiful.

  • Marissa

    Emily - what kind of camera/lens did you use for these gorgeous shots?!?

  • DDee2

    This woman is so gorgeous. I enjoyed reading this. What she said about the differences between the braids she gets in Lagos and the ones she gets in NYC is very interesting. I'm going to look more into that. I'm wondering, though, why she talked up The Body Shop and Philosophy then ended by saying that black soap and shea butter as her skin care staples. I would have liked to know more about why she likes them if they are her real necessities.

    Is it me or are the pictures getting smaller? One of the things I like most about ITG are the pictures. I've commented on them often (under a different screen name) and miss how large and clear they were. I know I can't get the old layout back, but if there's any way to make the pictures bigger could you?

    • mickharper

      Hi DDee -- if you click on the pictures, they should enlarge. Let me know if that's working for you -- we're still working some of the kinks out :-) ... I feel like the arrows may make the photos seem a tad bit smaller, but they are actually the same size as before. Thanks so much for the feedback!

  • http://mybeautysample.com/ Becca @ The Beauty Sample

    She's beautiful. I LOVE her dress!

  • NeenaJ

    She is so chic and yet playful at the same time. Love it!

  • http://rokderm.com/ ROKderm

    Great post! I've done a review of the Moroccanoil treatment on ROKderm.com, but haven't tried the restorative mask yet! I should give that a try as well I gather. Great post from you Emily, as always! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/c.ro87 Caitlin Robertson Willard

    she is STUNNING! i love that all different hair types and ethnicities use moroccan oil...it is THAT good! although i must say it drives me crazy that people advertise that the sun helps their skin...it will temporarily tighten and even your skin tone but you will be left with serious damage down the line! i always tell my clients that sunscreen is the cheapest product to fight aging...whether you are fair skinned or dark. great post, as always!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DJQMGJU7MZMBVLSD4GUTPJEPD4 murt

    Absolutely loved this - also - beautiful pictures, as always.

  • Liz Lizo

    She's lovely, thanks for featuring her!

  • Hanna Lei

    I love the look! So glad I found your blog! http://www.hannamarielei.com/

  • http://eccentriclabels.blogspot.com/ Bibian Gomez

    I didn't know Oroma Elewa until today but now I love her! I mean she seems so nice and a down-to-earth person. And she is so so beautiful! definitely following her track.

  • Capitalist Pancake

    Gorgeous and funny! And I love her outfit!

  • http://remodelista.com/about/alexa Alexa

    LOVE that Maki-Oh piece on her!

  • mickharper

    Hey FiSF -- We built a delay into the menus now for when you mouseover. Should help solve your issue and thanks so much for pointing it out to us and big ups to everyone who liked your comment. Perhaps now we can just call you "in San Francisco" :-)

  • Joycegalugbo

    So true what she says about braids. Braiding is a art form in African and the West Indies and it's difficult to find a hair stylist who can braid properly in London. Love her, she so funny.

  • Lou’Ana

    This woman is beautiful !


  • http://twitter.com/lesapea Lisa Marshall

    I totally agree natural can be challenging to maintain. I am glad she is just as honest as she is beautiful. Love her.

    Lisa x

  • http://twitter.com/SaraT1011 Sarita

    This is my first time hearing of Oroma, but I positively love her enthusiasm. I also love that she's given me some ideas on nude colors for lips. She and I are about the same skin tone, and I always have difficulty when searching for nude colors for dark skin tones.

    And for those wondering about African black soap, it's suppose to help with blemish issues like acne and scarring and other skin issues like eczema. Black soap can be drying to the skin (it exfoliates), which is why I assume that Oroma also uses shea butter because it replenishes moisture to the skin.

    I really loved this feature!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1033981551 Adeola Naomi Aderemi

    She is amazing!!!
    All well said and the black girl hair is really a challenge , people will not understand unless the experience it.
    Thank you for featuring her.