I grew up in the ’80s. It was the pinnacle of my dad’s career, so my mom was on a hot streak and would go out every night. She had a big bathtub in her dressing room, and I would sit in the empty tub for hours and watch her get her hair and makeup done. My mom loved makeup, so she had drawers and drawers of it. I was like, “One day, that’s how I want to be.”
My mom is from the South, and she is not playing around when it comes to lotion—her skin is like velvet. The way she raised me, you never left the house without lotion everywhere. That’s how I am too. I have a friend who has really dry skin, and every time I go see her, I’ll take a heavy CeraVe cream with me and lotion up her elbows. They are so dry.
I actually have very dry skin, so I have to keep hydrated. On my face I use Biologique Recherche products: face wash, serum, and moisturizer every day, and a mask a few times a week. In the shower I exfoliate with gloves. I make a scrub with sugar and cucumbers from my garden in the summer, but in the winter I’ll use whatever I can find. Then I put grape-seed oil (Whole Foods’ 365 brand, but any will do) all over my body and the thick yellow Kiehl's cream over that. I’m a Virgo—I like to stay very organized. I have two trays on my vanity: one for body and hair products and one for my face. They are crowded but not too cluttered.
I want to avoid clogging my pores, so I try not to wear a lot of makeup. When I don’t have to be out or working, I don’t put on any at all, except Clé de Peau Beauté concealer to cover up my dark circles.
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When I was working on my new television show, Great News, I had to wear makeup every day. That was a little tricky on my skin, for sure. Fortunately, I worked with amazing makeup artists who would find gentler products for my skin. I play Portia, who is kind of the anti–news anchor. Portia was clearly hired in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience. She’s young and hip and wears bright outfits. Unlike me, I would say she’s a makeup girl—I don’t think she’s going for the natural look.
Harold Lancer is my dermatologist, but I don’t see him a ton. I do facials only every once in a while. For me, less is more. When I mess with my skin too much, it freaks out. My hair is the same way. I have to give it breaks and room to breathe. Also, if I’m not eating well and drinking water, I’ll break out in one second.
I sound like a mom when I say this, but it’s less what you do to your face and more how you’re treating your body—the skin is your largest organ. I’m 35, and the older I get, the more it’s about what I’m putting in rather than what I’m putting on. I try to eat cooling foods: lots of vegetables, pretty standard stuff. But I can’t deny myself a lobster taco every now and again, and I’m addicted to hot sauce, even though my cheeks get rosy when I eat it—and not in a good way.
Drinking tequila always makes me break out. To recover after a night out, I go without makeup the next day and drink a lot of water.
As far as sunscreen goes, I’ve gotten so many confusing messages over the years. I’m of mixed race, so I spent 25 years thinking the rules didn’t apply to me. I don’t sit and bake in the sun, but I can give myself a five-to-seven-minute window and I will definitely get a tan. That’s a dope thing about being mixed race.
But I definitely need to start wearing sunscreen more. I’m not amazing at it—having sun is like drinking water to me, and my body really loves it. I have started wearing hats to protect my face. J. Crew makes a cute one I’m always wearing, and I end up buying the same one every time I travel.
But I’ll never hide indoors—I still like a little golden moment.
—As told to Christine Whitney