Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Michelle Darrisaw
Apr, 30, 2018

As a teenager growing up in Mississippi, Tori Bowie spent most of her time playing basketball. In fact, the 27-year-old athlete has even described it as being her “first love.” So it would’ve been safe to assume she’d end up as a WNBA player. Yet, the three-time Olympic medalist defied the odds and became the fastest woman in the world in track and field instead.

While Bowie has earned bragging rights—having won a gold medal in 2017 in the 100-meter dash at the World Athletics Championships in London—the sprint star is also redefining beauty standards, both on and off the track.

“I’ve always felt more prepared whenever I do my makeup,” Bowie tells ESSENCE. “I feel like doing my makeup before a race is part of my uniform. I always come out with a hair scarf or a headband, and I try to wear a new one for each race.”

For Bowie, hair, makeup and healthy skin aren’t just important for post-race photos and press, it’s something she intentionally focuses on, along with her training. Of course, sticking to a strict diet and staying hydrated play a significant role, but surprisingly, so does maintaining a solid beauty regimen.

Part of Bowie’s race-day prep includes lipstick, waterproof mascara, eyeliner and powder to ensure her face boasts a good beat while sprinting around the track. But she also credits Aveeno facial scrub and simple tea tree oil to keep breakouts at bay. The 27-year-old is also an advocate for “embracing the sweat” during training and workouts to keep her skin looking clear and healthy.

With her flawless, glowing skin and long, muscular legs, it’s no wonder the creative masterminds at Valentino, tapped Bowie to star in an ad campaign, and also why designers sought her out to strut down select runways during New York Fashion Week this February. In addition, she just raced to victory for the 200-meter dash at the Grenada Invitational on April 21, her skin looking ever-radiant as she crossed the finish line.

#ValentinoResort2018 @maisonvalentino ❤️🙏🏿😊😍😘

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Not surprisingly, as a dark-skinned Black woman fascinated with beauty, Bowie can also be counted as a fan of Rihanna’s all-inclusive product line, Fenty Beauty.

“It’s hard to find powder and things for my skin tone,” says Bowie. “I look at Rihanna’s collection, and I’m always in awe because there’s a shade that exists for every skin tone.”

Of course, legendary track star Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner is someone Bowie considers an inspiration, but these days, she’s also fond of Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o.

“She [Lupita Nyong’o] is absolutely amazing, and I feel like she has shown this generation that we can be natural and beautiful at the same time,” says Bowie.

And it would appear Bowie is on the fast-track to empowering girls in her own way, too.