Kerry Washington Says She’s a “Firm Believer” in This Skin-Care Ingredient: “It’s Been a Game Changer For Me”

Kerry Washington Says She’s a “Firm Believer” in This Skin-Care Ingredient: “It’s Been a Game Changer For Me” featured image
Getty Images / Karwai Tang / Contributor

A Hollywood icon praised for her work on and off the screen, Kerry Washington is beloved by all and brightens any room she enters, even a virtual one. Washington recently shared with us her secrets to a healthy and glowing complexion and discussed her involvement with Neutrogena’s Metaverse Beauty Week Experience (she is a brand ambassador and creative consultant), a virtual reality event that teaches consumers about the importance of skin health—a topic you’ll see she’s become quite the expert on herself.

Ahead, Washington’s take on virtual reality, her most iconic roles, her daily skin-care routine and the anti-aging ingredient she says has been an absolute “game-changer” for her skin.

Tell me a bit about your involvement with Neutrogena and Metaverse’s Beauty Week.

I’m very excited because this has never been done before. It’s this completely new world of engaging with our consumer so I’m really honored to be involved in this activation. I’ve been with the brand for a long time and to be involved in this new space and get to bring my role as a creative consultant, not just in IRL but IVL, is exciting. I got to help design my avatar and my outfit and hair and the skin and makeup look, of course, and I’m just really excited for consumers to be journeying through our Metaverse Beauty Week Experience.

How do you see the beauty space getting more and more virtual in the coming years?

One of the things I love about this activation is that education has always been really important to us at Neutrogena. We’re not into tricking our consumers. We want to empower our consumers with information and feel like the more people know, the more they can take care of themselves and their skin. Our brand is so supported by scientists and to be able to share this science with the consumer in a way that’s really accessible and fun is great. 

It’s only in a virtual experience that we can literally walk people through what it’s like to engage with internal and external aggressors, to see how different products and choices can help affect the skin. I mean we’re basically taking our consumer and dropping them inside their own skin to really experience the journey of their skin vitals. So that to me is really exciting, because it’s educational, it’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s empowering. 

From Paige, to Mia to Olivia Pope, you’ve embodied so many iconic characters on screen. How do you choose the roles you decide to take on? 

Oh, that’s so interesting. It’s so funny, I’m just finishing up recording the audio book for my memoir so I feel like I’ve been talking about this a lot, because I talk about it a lot in the memoir. But for me, I find that I’m drawn to a character when there’s something I feel like I need to learn from her, or something that she can teach me, and when I have to grow to meet the need to fulfill her. So I’m really lucky because I feel like all of the women that I’ve gotten to play have really left in my heart the lessons that they’ve walked through in their stories. And so I get to have added wisdom in my lifetime through the characters that I play. So I’m deeply, deeply grateful to them.

Is there a character in particular that holds a special place in your heart? 

It’s like kids. I love them all differently, but I do love them equally. Each character holds a different kind of place in my heart. At the time I’m playing them, they are the most important character. But when I look back at all of them, I really see how important they’ve been to my development as a person.

All these years later, Olivia Pope still gets a quarter of a million Google searches every month. But you still look exactly the same as you did on that pilot in 2012. What are your secrets to seemingly aging in reverse? 

Oh my gosh, that’s very sweet. I have to say a lot of it is Neutrogena. I started working with the company in the beginning of the Scandal years and it has really been such a guide for me and how to take care of my skin throughout my life. At different points I’ve needed different products in different ways. 

Hydration is always really important for me because I have eczema, I’ve had it my whole life. So that’s why I’m obsessed with our Hydro Boost products. The Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser ($14.50) is so amazing and it’s fragrance-free, so it’s really great for my eczema skin. I love it because particularly when I’m working, it’s important to find a cleanser that I feel like can get all of the dirt, all of the oil, all of the makeup. So I do my wipes first to take off the makeup, obviously, then I do the Hydrating Gel Cleanser. But even though it’s removing all the icky stuff, it’s also locking in that hydration, which I think is so, so important. 

I think hydration in general is really important. I’m really good about drinking water too. I do electrolytes often in my water. There’s a brand I really love called LMNT that I love. 

And then sunscreen. Again, I love a product that can multitask. So I love the Hydro Boost Moisturizer with SPF 50 ($30). It has hyaluronic acid so it moisturizes, it’s long-lasting, but it’s protecting my skin from the sun. 

It’s funny that you’re asking this because a lot of this is what we take consumers through in the Metaverse Beauty Week Experience when we talk about internal and external aggressors. We talk about traveling, UV rays, how to protect yourself from UV, about getting enough sleep,  stress, eating well, nutrition, so I’ve learned a lot working with Neutrogena about how to take care of myself better. 

And I would say finally, the real other secret sauce, the special sauce, has been retinol. To me, retinol is a game-changer and our retinol is so consumer friendly. If you’ve never used retinol before, it’s very accessible, very easy, not very irritating, but the Rapid Wrinkle Repair ($41), the Retinol Pro+ ($50.50), all of it. Retinol has been a game-changer for me. 

How many years have you been using retinol?

I started using retinol maybe a couple years after my son was born. So I would say about four or five years. I wanted to make sure that I was out of my baby-making years because it’s not safe if you’re pregnant. But luckily I had tons of other products to turn to in our line during that time. But I’m a firm believer in retinol. It’s really important.

Your hair has also gone through quite a few transformations as of late. How have you been keeping it looking so healthy? 

That’s so funny because I was so torn about what hair to do for my avatar in the Metaverse. [Laughs] But this time of year I love to do protective styles. I love to do braids because I’m so active and in and out of the water. I’ve never done these boho braids that I have right now before and I’m really into them; I love them. I like to choose a style that’s kind of easy on my hairline. So that’s where I am these days but I like to change it up.

Any favorite hair products or ingredients you’re loving?

My friend Tracee Ellis Ross has a line called Pattern of course and their Mask ($25) is like a trip to a spa in a jar. It’s unbelievable. The smell, the fragrance is incredible but also just how it leaves my hair feeling is tremendous. And then when I have my protective styles, I really liked the scalp serum that Gabrielle Union and Larry Sampson come up with in their line. So I’m really into those products.

Can you take me through your daily skin-care routine? 

At night I always start with the Makeup Remover Wipes ($10.50) whether I’m wearing makeup or not honestly. I never ever, ever go to sleep with makeup on. Even if all I do is the wipes, I do at least that. Then I change up my cleanser. Sometimes, if I feel like I need a stronger cleanser I’ll use the Neutrogena Deep Cleanse, but other times, which is more general, I’ll do the Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser

At night I do the retinol which I really, really love. I love both our .5% Power Serum, the Rapid Wrinkle Repair, and I also love the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream ($33.50). I like to layer the retinol with a moisturizer because my skin is very sensitive and our product is light and user friendly. But I usually add the Hydro Boost Cream ($30) on top of that. And then I go to bed and I hope to hopefully get enough sleep like the Metaverse would tell me, although I feel like of all the areas, that’s where I’m most challenged. 

In the morning, again, I like to go with the Hydro Boost Gel Cleanser. And then in the morning for me it’s really important to get the SPF. So I do love, as I said, the hyaluronic acid cream, the Hydro Boost, I just love that line, but I also really, really love our Tinted Mineral UV Sunscreen ($25), because it’s almost like a tinted moisturizer. But it’s got a really high level SPF, and it’s got some tint. So it’s very, again, user friendly, and there’s shades that work for everybody. So I really like that a lot too. 

Creating an SPF for darker skin tones isn’t easy. 

Yeah, especially when it’s a mineral base. So sometimes I’ll do the mineral tint and then put a little bit of Hydro Boost Foundation ($15) over that to layer a little bit. I find that really helps me keep the moisture locked in so I’m covering all my bases.

If you could share one piece of skin-care advice to everyone in the Metaverse what would it be?

I think it would be to look at the full picture. One of the reasons why I’m so proud of the consumer experience is that we’re talking about our product, obviously, we’re talking about ways that you can combat the aggressors of UV and combat the aggressors of travel with our product. But we’re also talking about stress, and nutrition, and sleep. 

At Neutrogena, we believe in a holistic approach to looking your best and feeling your best. And I think that’s what I would want to remind people in the Metaverse. Of course, it’s about having great products and I’m so proud to stand behind our products, but it’s also about taking care of yourself from the inside out and making sure that you’re caring for yourself holistically.

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