Actress Keke Palmer has never shied away from transparency. So when she shared earlier this month that she has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder marked by menstrual irregularity and acne, she was praised by fans for being so candid.

These days, as she grapples with her diagnosis doing what she describes as “simplifying” her skincare routine, there’s one brand that she continues to keep around: Olay. That’s why she’s teaming up with them yet again for the upcoming Olay Body Retinol Collection which is offered exclusively right now in Costco, and will be available worldwide in early 2021.

Ahead, find out why retinol in skincare is so important, what self-care looks like for her these days, as well as what she has to say to those who tried to minimize her breakouts in the past.

You’ve collaborated with Olay Body before. Now you’re partnering with them again for the new Retinol collection. Can you talk about why this collection is so special? 

KEKE PALMER: Just like the last one, it really is approaching the body like how we approach the skin, giving you products that will actually upgrade the body. A lot of times we just think about our faces, but we don’t put as much emphasis on the body. This collection, which includes a body wash and a body conditioner, contains retinol. So your skin is actually improving overnight as you sleep.

With the increased time in the house, why is it so important to really give our bodies and our skin, the care that it deserves? 

PALMER: Because we have to be nice to ourselves. Sometimes you can find yourself with just a t-shirt on and some underwear and you look up and you’ve done nothing all day. So you have to try to keep yourself in the habit of caring about you and not just laying in bed all day. Get up, do your regimen, and even create a uniform if you don’t want to change outfits everyday. I have that. I wake up in my pajamas, I do my morning routine and then I put on my workout fit for the next three days and then I do it all over again. I’m telling you, I’ve been doing my entire routine so I can keep feeling like my normal self.

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How has your skincare routine evolved during quarantine? 

PALMER: It’s actually gotten simpler because I discovered that I have PCOS. Once that happened I said, ‘okay let me not focus so much on product when it comes to putting all this stuff on my face, let me scale it on down and use something that’s a little more simpler, a little more mild.’ Then, I got heavy on the process of elimination with my diet. I’ve been doing my research but it’s so hard being a test dummy for yourself. I’m just trying to remain motivated because my love for myself and my desire to be the best version of myself and to give myself everything that I want, is never-ending. I’m not going to give up. But it can get really hard, and it can get discouraging. So that’s where I’m at right now and I think eventually I’ll go back into using product but now I’m just trying to focus on getting back to the basics. 

How has that also been a lesson just like in self-love and being kind and gentle with yourself and with your body? 

PALMER: It’s been great because I can’t tell you how many times people tried to blame my breakouts on me. They’ve said I don’t have good cleaning habits, or I wear too much makeup, all things that are very trivial bullshit if we’re being honest. So it was crazy for me to come back and be like, actually, I have a condition that I was born with where my hormones basically get really attacked by estrogen. Like wow, go to hell, all of you.

The beautiful part is, because my parents gave me an opportunity to have access to resources I can go to several different specialists. Most people that are struggling with PCOS, that are having incredible mood swings, and breakouts, and don’t know what to do or what’s wrong with them, don’t have those resources. So for me, I will be that person to stand up and stand out and say ‘hey y’all look over here’ because I’m not going to let anybody struggle. If I found some answers or a cure that can lead somebody in the right direction, I’m going to share it. Knowledge is power. What’s crazy is now all of my aunties are sharing that they’ve been suffering acne and mood swings for years. My one auntie had struggled with infertility. You know what all that connects to? PCOS.

Even dealing with all of that, you’ve managed to get glam every now and then. How has that helped with boosting your spirits?

PALMER: You’ve got to be able to find ways to make yourself feel more perfect, if you will. When it comes to makeup, it’s just another form of giving you an opportunity to reach that perfection. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about self-love. As long as you remember that you don’t need it and just enjoy it for the moment, that’s what matters. When I was younger I used to live and die by the makeup brush. I wouldn’t go anywhere without it. And I reached the point where I didn’t even like makeup anymore because it was all about is me hiding myself. So I had to redefine makeup for myself, and saw it as playing and having fun. Some days I feel like giving these people this beat and other days I’m like going bare-faced. I’m beautiful regardless. Using makeup is about having fun, giving a moment, giving a beat, giving a look, and then leaving it there. I don’t do it to hide myself anymore.

What other forms of self care have you adopted during these times?

PALMER: Most definitely working out and cooking for me. Working out has been a saving grace for me with dealing with my anxiety, and everything in my life.

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