For this actress and self-proclaimed cosmetologist, hair experimentation is not only fun, it's a form of self-care.

By Adelaide Giesey
Apr 12, 2021 @ 8:45 am
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Taraji P. Henson Beauty Badass
Credit: Courtesy Taraji P. Henson

If there's anyone who knows how to liven up a look it's Taraji P. Henson. The actress, 'hair chameleon' and self-proclaimed cosmetologist has been switching up her styles not only for fun but as a form of self-care over the past year. Like many of us, she's leaned into her beauty routine to pass the time while staying at home — but she went so far as to build a whole beauty salon for herself there (with the help of her haircare line TPH by Taraji).

But Henson has also called attention to the need for more than just external self-care, by starting a mental health foundation to help others access resources that might feel out of reach. "When I was struggling with my mental health, it was difficult to find a therapist. If it was hard for me — someone who has the means — I knew it was a huge problem in the Black community," she tells InStyle. "I wanted to get people talking, and that's why we started the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation [named after her father, in 2018]. Too often we have normalized trauma, and I wanted to create an outlet for those who are struggling."

From the most badass haircut she's ever gotten to her most memorable career moments, the actress opens up about her hair journey and more, below.

Her First Beauty Moments

One of my earliest memories of beauty is when I got into my mom's makeup at 7 years old. I was wearing blue eyeshadow, mahogany lipstick, and dark lip liner. I had so much attitude.

Growing up in Washington, D.C., where hair is culture, I would spend up to 12 hours in a salon with rotating appointments every other Friday. When I moved to Los Angeles, I came with chemically relaxed hair and was talked out of [that look] for a press and curl by a stylist on the set of Baby Boy. Now natural hair for Black women is accepted in the industry. Before, you could have natural hair all you wanted, but you were not going to get a job with it. God, I wish I knew when I was young that my hair was beautiful.

A Signature Feature

I never would have realized my eyebrows were the shit if I hadn't become a celebrity. People kept pointing them out, and I was like, "Yeah, I guess they are great." Because my hair is a very bold color right now, I've been using the Damone Roberts Tinted Brow Gel in Ginger to soften them.

Taraji P. Henson Beauty Badass
Credit: Courtesy Damone Roberts

Damone Roberts The Tinted Brow Gel in Ginger

Working From Home

I recently created a salon at home. Since I was trapped inside, I needed my own little world. My shelves are stocked with all TPH by Taraji products and other things I love too, like the Ashunta Sheriff Beauty Magnetieyes magnetic lashes. I just bought a cash register. Don't ask me why — it makes me feel good. [laughs]

Taraji P. Henson Beauty Badass
Credit: Courtesy TPH by Taraji

TPH by Taraji Never Salty

Hair care is self-care. Black women often feel like there are so many steps for our hair. Whether we are wearing a protective style or keeping it natural, there are different levels of maintenance. I believe everything should start from the scalp. It needs a regimen, just like your skin does. You need to condition, exfoliate, and moisturize, and then you can get to your hair.

The Big Chop

The most badass thing I've ever done is cut all my hair off and go totally natural. I felt so free. They asked me to host Black Girls Rock! and I decided I wasn't wearing wigs. I will never forget how it was embraced. People still say I should cut my hair again, but it's like, "No, you've got to feel it." I felt it then.

Taraji P. Henson Beauty Badass
Credit: Courtesy TPH by Taraji

TPH by Taraji Curls 4 Days

Taraji P. Henson Beauty Badass
Credit: Courtesy TPH by Taraji

TPH by Taraji Master Cleanse

For more stories like this, pick up the May 2021 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Apr. 16th.