Emma Heming-Willis on Her Vegan Skincare Line & Her Generational Obsession With Coconut Oil
By Stephanie Montes
January 3, 2021
Model, influencer, and CEO, Emma Heming-Willis sat on a beauty secret for years before having the idea to take it mainstream. After shopping for her favorite skincare staple in the baking aisle for two consecutive pregnancies, Emma decided to create a line of safe and effective beauty products for pregnant women starring her go-to grocery-store ingredient: Coconut oil. In 2016, she launched CocoBaba in Europe, a collection of products for moms and moms-to-be.
Luckily for us, the vegan line is finally available stateside as of this year. Here, we chat with the powerhouse (Oh, and did we mention she's also the wife to Bruce Willis?) about her skincare brainchild, her long-standing obsession with coconut oil, how she's balancing motherhood, and the real reason she waited four years to bring it to the U.S.
How did your love for coconut oil begin?
Coconut oil was the solution for everything in our household. From massaging sore muscles to cooking with it, to even watching my grandmother wax her dining room table! My mom would create warm coconut oil hair masks for us every other week. It was my first taste of the importance of taking time out for self-care.
Was coconut oil always your model-off-duty secret before the ingredient went mainstream?
I did not even realize it was a secret ingredient—I thought everyone used it. When it started to become all the rage, naive of me, I was surprised.
How did your pregnancy inspire the line?
It was only during my pregnancy that I started to become conscious about the ingredients I was putting on and in my body. My blinders were removed, and I had this 'ah-ha' moment knowing there would be other women concerned with what they use on their bodies as
well. Coconut oil was simple, tried, and true, and I wanted to create an effective line around it.
Why is CocoBaba better than raw coconut oil?
Raw coconut oil is very greasy, and it's difficult to use without getting it all over your clothing. Our main ingredient is coconut oil, which is combined with unique nourishing oils that elevate the benefits of the coconut oil and stabilize it to cancel out oily excess. CocoBaba soaks in beautifully—no one likes a greasy residue feel! Plus, I started to become grossed out continuously dipping my hand in a jar of store-bought coconut oil. I knew that if I wanted to experience a bit more luxury than that, other women would feel the same.
What are some other hero ingredients in the line?
To name a few: Chia seed oil, which contains the highest concentration of omega fatty acids of any plant source, with 30% more cell-protecting antioxidants; Sunflower seed oil, which is rich in Omega-6 and vitamin E, and acts as an emollient, locking in moisture; Sasha Inchi oil is loaded with Omega-3, Omega-6, Vitamin E, and Essential Amino Acid.
How are the ingredients in CocoBaba sourced?
Finding the right lab to produce CocoBaba was just as important as the formula. Making sure that the ingredients are not only clean and natural but ethically sourced is a big component. We found that there are a growing number of labs in the world that source consciously, which has been very reassuring. More and more businesses are doing their part to create sustainability.
What are you most proud of about the line?
I would say it's the price point. We've made a beautiful prestige product at [an affordable} price. My goal was to create a luxurious line that would be accessible at the same time. Also, we've attached a partnership possibility on the backend, where if you use and fall in love with the products, you have the option to become a seller and make a commission. That was important to me, especially in this day and age where every little bit of income can help a family. My mom was a single parent, working numerous jobs, and her side gig was selling beauty products for a commission. The extra money she made helped with groceries every week. So, it was essential for me to weave that into the business model.
What is your favorite product from the line?
It's like picking my favorite child! Our Body Butter Mousse is our best seller, but I'm in love with Coconut Body Oil. Everyone needs a good body oil.
Do you have any special product hacks?
On my at-home mani/pedi days, I apply the scrub to dry hands and feet to exfoliate off dead skin, especially focusing around the cuticle area. Once that's done, I wash it off, and my hands and feet are super soft! One of my favorite personal tricks is leaving the Coconut Body Oil in the shower to quickly apply it when I'm in a rush and then just lightly towel dry it off. It totally leaves your skin hydrated, soft, and smelling beautiful.
Why did you decide to originally launch CocoBaba in Europe?
I had this idea nine years ago. At the time, there were natural products on the market, but I would say things were not at the point of being completely green and clean. And at the same time, I did not fully have that knowledge yet of what that even meant. I wanted to make sure that whoever was helping me with the formula would leave out any questionable ingredients. Germany's restrictions are much higher, and it felt like the right fit to do it there. Now we have that formula and the experience making it possible to produce correctly and effectively in the States. We've even made some slight improvements and adjustments for the US launch.
How do you manage to balance motherhood and running CocoBaba?
Oh, the juggle is so real. I'm grateful that I can work from home, and I love my job, but I haven't perfected how to do it all gracefully. You have to set the right boundaries, like trying not to work after 5 pm, which is hard when you are a small business owner, but I try. And also setting boundaries with my family that, yes, there are times you want me to play because you see me in the house in my office, but I can't because I have work. I used to feel guilty about that, but I stopped as I feel it's beneficial for my children to see me doing what I love. And what child doesn't need some healthy boundaries in place?!
What's next for CocoBaba?
We have new products in the pipeline! I have so many ideas for CocoBaba, but I'm just taking it one day at a time for now.
As if running a vegan empire, juggling motherhood and living in the limelight isn’t enough to keep this model mama busy, Emma is also an ambassador and avid supporter of Room to Grow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty throughout their critical years of development. You can keep up with her daily life on her namesake blog and shop all of Cocobaba’s products under $30 at