How Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng Care for Their Sensitive Skin

The first-time co-founders of skincare line Topicals talk beauty through the lens of self-care and inclusion.

topical skincare beauty around the clock
(Image credit: Future)

Welcome to Beauty Around the Clock, Marie Claire's weekly peek into the daily lives of some of the most game-changing women in their industries. Ever wonder how they get it all done in a day? Here's your answer.

After years of battling their personal skincare conditions, two former pre-med students Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng teamed up to create Topicals, a skincare brand tailored to young adults living with chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The priority: serving their customers with effective treatments that are effective but not clinical and entirely unsexy. Despite overcoming setbacks due to the Covid-19 crisis, the skincare brand officially launched this summer with a hydrating mask and brightening serum. Here, the co-founders talk morning routines, self-care rituals, and the importance of inclusion within the beauty industry.

Rise and Shine

Claudia Teng: I wake up around 7 a.m. First thing I do is check my planner to see what I have slated for the day and check on all of my plants. I’ve been trying hard to cultivate a green thumb and I think it’s working! I’ve successfully sprouted several seeds of basil and am caring for 6-7 other plants.

Olamide Olowe: I typically get 9 hours of sleep. First thing I do when I wake up is meditate and read the Bible.

Morning Maintenance

CT: My morning routine during quarantine is pretty simple: a shower and some sunscreen. My eczema flare-ups have been particularly bad, so I’ve been taking extra time in the mornings to apply my prescription steroids. During more normal circumstances, I really enjoy taking the time to do my makeup in the morning. It’s an important ritual to me that psychs me up for the day to come. In the morning I shower with Necessaire Body Wash, moisturize with Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream and add Everyday Humans Resting Beach Face sunscreen and the steroids for my eczema. My hair is pretty manageable—it’s pretty fine and straight, so when I get out of shower I just let it air dry.

OO: I spend an hour and a half on beauty in the morning. I love to double cleanse with Dermalogica's Precleanse Cleansing Oil and Eminence Stone Crop Gel Wash. I then apply a chemical exfoliant (The Ordinary Glycolic Acid), Topicals FADED dark spot serum and our Like Butter moisturizerBlack Girl Sunscreen, then the Vie Beauty 30 Roses hydrating spray . I’ve been wearing braids lately and it makes life so easy. I just wake up and lay my edges and I’m good to go!

Signature Beauty Look

CT: I love a bushy but sculpted brow, a nice fluffy lash, and a nude lip.

OO: Colorful eyeliner & a dark brown lip liner with Adejiore non-sticky clear gloss.

Fitness Routine

CT: I’m a huge night owl—and I love to work out at night. I’m very into strength training and heavy lifting.

OO: I was a D1 athlete in college and have spent the last couple of years giving my body a rest so I don’t work out too often, but after this quarantine I’m definitely getting back in the gym.

Zoom Beauty Hack

CT: I put my hair in a slicked back bun, put some moisturizer on my face and some Aquaphor on my lips and call it a day.

OO: Wearing my hair pulled back into a tight high ponytail highlights all the right angles in my face.

Self-Care Ritual

CT: Writing out everything—my to-do list for the day, random thoughts and emotions, and ideas—helps me feel lighter and less burdened. And exercise is a very important wellness/mental health practice—even just taking 10 minutes to stretch and roll out is helpful.

OO: Praying helps me get refocused in the midst of stress. I also always feel 100 times better after having calls with my other female founder friends.

Signature Scent

CT: I have eczema and very sensitive skin, so I don’t love to use a ton of fragrance because it irritates my skin. It’s something that used to bum me out but I’ve come to accept that I just smell

OO: My signature scent is Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Eau de Parfum.

Cheap-but-Chic Fave

CT: Vitamin E oil from Trader Joe's—it feels super nice and thick in the best way.

OO: Morphe setting spray

Shop Claudia Teng's Daytime Beauty Picks

Shop Olamide Olowe's Daytime Beauty Picks

Beauty Icon

CT: YouTuber Sarah Cheung. When I was growing up, I could never figure out how to do makeup for my hooded eye shape. I admire how well Sarah caters to hers and owns her beauty and ethnicity.

OO: Kelly Rowland

Business Icon

CT: Georgina Gooley, founder of Billie. She found a category that was ripe for disruption, the razor space, and did it in a way that made women’s body hair cool and the pink tax not. I love that Billie raised more awareness around the Pink Tax and real-life inequalities that women face.

OO: Sheila Johnson, co-founder of B.E.T.

Business Beginnings

OO: I always felt like an outsider because of my skin condition and wanted the beauty industry to expand its definition of beauty to include me and people who look like me.

CT: Olamide and I have both grown up with and lived with chronic skin conditions. I’ve had severe eczema my entire life, and the early feedback on our line made me come face to face with something I’d never explicitly acknowledged: My eczema has, from an early age, largely defined the way I live my life—I’ve never been able to use the skincare others use for fear of a reaction, I was afraid of going to sleepovers and having my friends ask me about my pouch of steroids and ointments, and I avoid so many things that are commonplace for others (heaters, beaches, hand soap, perfume, fragranced candles, hair dye). Skin conditions have always been stigmatized and ill-understood, and over-the-counter options have made them feel even more clinical and icky. We created Topicals to change this narrative and serve those growing up with these conditions, and make them feel like they’re a real part of the beauty community.

Boldest Business Move

CT: Moving to LA, quitting my job in clinical research and starting this company with Olamide having only met her in person twice.

OO: Forgoing medical school to start Topicals.

Career Advice

CT: Don’t look left or right, focus on looking forward.

OO: Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard.

Night-Out Look

CT: I love a soft glam look and take advantage of this when getting ready for a night out. I love a full lash, a good contour, and then I always add a pop of something unexpected like Glossier's Colorslide graphic liner in nectar on my eyelid or Glossier's Niteshine highlighter in my inner corner.

OO: Glossy lids with glossy lips with Adejiore non-sticky clear gloss.

P.M. Routine

CT: Nighttime is really when I lean into skincare as a self-care moment to wind down from my day. I start with my jade gua sha. I use the tool and vitamin E oil for at least 10 minutes on my face and neck. Then I use Biossance Squalane and Antioxidant Cleansing Oil. Next, I go in with a moisturizing cleanser like the Cerave Hydrating Cleanser. Every other day, I use The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toner and then a bakuchiol serum. Next, I apply Topicals Faded serum on my dark spots and recent acne spots, and finish with the Topicals Like Butter overnight mask to moisturize and seal everything in.

OO: I use Drunk Elephant's Slaai Makeup Melting Butter CleanserYouth to the People Kale Green Tea Spinach Gel Cleanser, and Topicals Like Butter mask.

Shop Claudia Teng's Nighttime Beauty Picks

Shop Olamide Olowe's Nighttime Beauty Picks

Bedside Beauty Musts

CT: Petroleum jelly! It has gotten a lot of flack recently because people equate it to gasoline, but petroleum jelly has actually been refined and purified of all potentially harmful toxins. It’s a great multi-purpose product.

OO: My hair bonnet.

Lights Out

CT: I typically don’t get to bed until around 2 a.m.

OO: 10 p.m.

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Chelsea Hall

Chelsea Hall is the Assistant Fashion and Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she covers celebrity style, fashion trends, skincare, makeup and anything else tied into the world of fashion and beauty