Anyone Can Rock Bold Lipstick, Thanks To Cosmetic Scientist Florence Adepoju

Combining her love of bold makeup and '90s hip hop, Florence Adepoju went from working at a makeup counter to running her own global cosmetics line.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Florence Adepoju is part of Oxygen’s digital series In Progress 52. In 2016, Oxygen's Very Real digital hub is featuring 52 of these outstanding women: that's one woman a week, for 52 weeks. Check out the series here! 

At 17, Florence Adepoju was figuring out her calling. Though she had a growing interest in science and an unrelenting passion for bold makeup, it would be some time before she landed on a way to combine her interests.

Years later, at age 24, the UK-born Adepoju (nickname "Flow") now has a degree in cosmetic science from the London College of Fashion and her own line of super successful cosmetics, MDMFlow (for "Madame Flow"). It all started with the constant dissatisfaction she experienced at makeup counters.

"Throughout my education, I've worked in the beauty industry and represented brands that I just thought were quite boring with their selection or didn't really represent the modern consumer who wants to be a bit more experimental with the way they present themselves," Adepoju explains. "Certain colors just weren't available that I thought would be really cool to wear on my lips, so I just decided to start making it."

Out of her frustration, Florence found inspiration. She spent four years in school to become an applied chemist, with the ultimate goal of one day creating the makeup line she'd always wished existed. Her chief inspiration was 90s hip hop - the passion, the bold style, and the confidence of the era. 

Enter MDMflow, a homegrown hip hop-inspired beauty brand that's taken the industry by storm since its launch in 2013. Adepoju started off making her lipsticks in her parent's garden shed, melting the wax herself and experimenting with color in small batches. She pays homage to the genre she loves not only through the unique, in-your-face shades she creates, but the names she gives them: "Bossy" is a dusty rose created for HBICs looking to stand out, while "Milkshake" is an icy pink that gets brighter the more you rub your lips together, and they're both inspired by Kelis songs.

What started out as a passion-driven DIY effort has grown into a formidable beauty brand, and the products are sold by some pretty big retailers including Topshop, the online giant Nasty Gal, and the French beauty brand Colette. MDMflow even boasts a few famous fans, like Lena Dunham. 

Adepoju's success comes as no surprise - her line of lipsticks, all handmade with her signature rose scent, fills a void in the beauty industry. Bold, bright colors that will pop on a variety of skin tones have always been hard to come by, thanks to the effort of passionate entrepreneurs like Adepoju, the tide is turning.

Video by Sekiya Dorsett; DP: Martyna Starosta; Photos by Victoria Pett.

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