ESSENCE Festival Of Culture kicked off Thursday with a virtual Wellness House experience that included some of the most influential Black movers and shakers in the space. Actor, producer, director and activist Kerry Washington was part of that roster, leading a calming yoga session equipped with meditative breathing exercises.
She also got real in an intimate conversation with ESSENCE’s Chief Content & Creative Officer MoAna Luu and sponsored by Neutrogena. The two powerhouse women talked about the importance of self-care, how beauty plays a part in how we take care of ourselves, and the products that everyone Black woman needs in her arsenal.
“We as Black women, we have always been people who get it done. Sometimes we put ourselves last and it’s really important that we put ourselves first,” she said. “It’s that old idea of putting your own oxygen mask on [first}, that you can’t really be present for the people in your life or for the movement if you aren’t taking care of yourself. We have to be affirming our own value and our beauty and care so that we can model that for the rest of society to care for us.”
Washington, who recently starred in Hulu’s hit limited series Little Fires Everywhere, has played a variety of characters from different walks of life in her career, and sees a commonality amongst all of these hard-working women. As a busy mom who’s in front of and behind the camera, she understands the struggle take a moment for oneself, a theme we see all too often amongst Black women. She credited her smart products for her ability to self-care without needing to think about it at all times.
“One of the reasons why I love the products we make at Neutrogena— every foundation we make is doing double duty,” she said. “Whether it’s treating wrinkles, anti-aging, or treating acne or extra hydration, we’re always on double duty. And that’s the nature of women. Sometimes we have to work smarter not harder so that we can take care of ourselves when we’re moms, or running companies, or both.”
Washington also cited a good skin care routine as part of a good self-care routine, along with exercise and making time for friends and family. She also spilled the tea on the two products she says every Black woman needs to have in her beauty and self-care toolkit: SPF and cleansing wipes.
“I’m religious about washing my face. When I first became a mom, I used to call Neutrogena wipes my shower,” she joked. “Because sometimes it was all I could do. It was like wipes from head to toe. So even now if I’m super exhausted I cleanse my face. It may just be with the wipes. On a good day it’s double cleansing with the wipes and then additionally washing my face. I want my skin to breathe!”
Considering how radiant and youthful Washington’s skin always looks, we’re planning to stock up on those wipes immediately.