Quinta Brunson is on a roll. As the first Black woman in Emmys history to earn three same-year nominations in the comedy categories (outstanding comedy series, lead actress in a comedy, and writing for a comedy series), the Philly native has continued to take the entertainment industry by storm and is making a large impact in such a small period of time. Now, Brunson is schooling us on how to secure the bag in more than one lane as the multi-hyphenated 32-year-old prepares to announce her latest venture. Got your notebooks open and pen ready to go?
The She Memes Well author has secured her first-ever beauty partnership with iconic skincare brand OLAY, joining the roster of celebrity ambassadors such as NOPE star Keke Palmer, Pose actress Mj Rodriguez, and Crash actress Thandiwe Newton. As part of her new partnership, Brunson is championing OLAY’s latest launch – their best-selling Retinol 24 + Peptide Collection. The collection includes a Vitamin B3 + Retinol complex for 24-hour hydration while combating those pesky imperfections such as fine lines and wrinkles, smoothness, brightness, firming, dark spots, and pores. Sounds like something we can all add to our carts, right?
“First of all, I’m just super excited. I’m beyond excited. It’s an iconic brand that I’m still processing. It’s my first-ever beauty campaign,” Brunson told ESSENCE during a phone interview. When OLAY first reached out to Brunson expressing interest in having her as one of the new faces of the brand, she was immediately flattered and thought to herself that the collaboration was a no-brainer due to her pre-existing relationship with the products. “I actually personally used this product every night, which is the retinol 24 plus peptide collection. I was looking for something at night that helped moisturize my skin, but also I was looking for something with retinol in it.”
In celebration of her newly secured beauty bag, ESSENCE spoke to Brunson herself about her personal beauty routine, how she keeps her skin flawless on and off-set of Abbott Elementary, and some of her personal favorite OLAY products that she swears by.
ESSENCE: When did your relationship with beauty and skincare first begin?
Quinta Brunson: Probably definitely when I was younger, but I don’t think in the most conventional way. My mom was just always very into skincare [and] always took very good care of her skin more than she was a makeup person. I really think it started there – learning from her just to properly wash my face every night and every morning, and moisturize. I feel that was more important to me than most girls I knew my age because of how into it my mother was.
ESSENCE: How has your beauty and skincare routine continued to evolve throughout the years?
Brunson: I went through my period where it was just a washcloth and moisturizer. As I got older, I tried things – all the different products that are thrown at you, different face washes, and everything – because I think I was really sold, too, and started using all those little magical products. Then, I got to learning [about] my skin actually and realizing that I didn’t really need that much for my skin in order for it to look nice. Some people need more than others, but for me, it went right back to what my mother had taught me – which was a whitewash cloth and a good moisturizer.
When I started wearing makeup, I began implementing makeup remover and having my staple little makeup products when I was younger. I’m still not the biggest makeup person in the world, but because of what I do for a living, I’ve had to learn what makeup feels good on my skin, what works, and what doesn’t work. I’ve also had to learn what makeups I can apply comfortably myself because a lot of times I have a makeup artist. But, I don’t feel as good with some of the products that they use, so I define what works better for me at home. It’s developed into one of the more meaningful relationships in my life – beauty against my will.
ESSENCE: How did the partnership with OLAY first come about?
Brunson: Like I said, I’m wearing makeup all the time. My skin experiences a lot, especially being in a rough, dehydrated climate here in California. I started realizing I wanted to have something on the outside that could help hydrate and recharge my skin. I drink a lot of water, I eat right, but I was wondering if there was anything on the outside. I really feel OLAY’s products have done this for me, especially the retinol 24 and peptide collection. My skin is truly softer and hydrated when I wake up. I think that’s just incredible. It was easy for me to say yes, too, because it actually made sense. I’ve been using OLAY products since I was a little girl. It was one of my mom’s favorite moisturizers, and it continues to be one of mine.
ESSENCE: What would you define as your skin type, and which OLAY products balance out your skin the most?
Brunson: I would say my skin is surprisingly dry, which sucks. Have you ever met people who don’t have to apply moisturizer? You’ve seen how much I’ve said the word moisturizer. You’ve heard it. I cannot wake up and not put on a moisturizer. It’s crazy to me that some people can, but my skin just feels so dry. It may not look dry, but it feels so dry. I live in California, so there’s no moisture in the air to help put any type of moisture into my skin. I guess it’s pretty dry, but I think my skin is what a lot of people would call “good.” I don’t have many breakouts. I don’t have acne or anything like that. I would say it’s pretty smooth and easy to manage.
[OLAY has] great serums that go in conjunction with moisturizers. I really love those, but if I’m being honest, there is an entire line of moisturizers that really do the trick for me, especially their retinol peptide collection. I don’t like going to bed feeling too sticky. I don’t like to lay on my pillow and feel my moisturizer seeping into my pillow or something. I like this one because it feels like my skin isn’t dry and it feels like it’s hydrated, but it doesn’t feel like I’m going to bed with something that might clog my skin, which is another worry of mine. When I do get breakouts, it’s usually because my skin is clogged and some moisturizers can be a little bit too heavy.
It feels like it’s right in the middle. In the morning, I’m trying a hydrating gel moisturizer that I really like. I didn’t think I was going to like it at first, but I can’t believe I like this gel situation. I would’ve never thought, but it’s really doing trick for me, now. I used to live in Philadelphia, and now I live in LA. I’ve always been searching for what works for me over here. It really is hard for me with hair, not only skin, finding what is the right hydration, here in Los Angeles. I feel those two moisturizers do the trick.
ESSENCE: You mentioned that because of your career, you wear makeup a lot. How would you say your beauty routine differs from when you’re off set versus when you’re on set?
Brunson: Oh my God, totally different on set. What’s funny is on set, I have to put in less effort. The only thing I’m focused on while I’m on set is properly cleaning my skin. That becomes hyper-important because being on television, I’m wearing a lot of makeup. It may not look like it, especially on Abbott Elementary, but I’m wearing less than most people on TV. It’s still a lot, especially for me because I don’t wear makeup a lot that often so my main goal becomes washing my face [and] making sure this makeup is off.
When I’m not on set, it’s, of course, my “wake-up, wash and moisturize” routine. I’m still not the biggest makeup person, but I have a few things that are in my arsenal for what to wear for the day. I like using an eyebrow pencil, I use a brow gel, I’ll use a good lip gloss, [and] do my hair care routine, which is pretty simple depending on what my hair is doing. I usually use oil, a curl cream, or something and that’s pretty much it. I really don’t do a lot. I have a wonderful makeup artist, Renée [Loiz], who helps me when I have to go to an event or something. She helps me look like I know what I’m doing.
ESSENCE: How do you define beauty, and how have Black women continued to define and set the standards of beauty?
Brunson: For the first question, I’ve really gone on a journey to make sure beauty to me is me feeling at my best. I know that there are many different beauty standards thrown at us from every angle. You are a Black woman. We have lived through the natural hair movement. We’ve also lived through getting our hair straightened and combed and stuff when we were younger. We’ve lived through the perms. We’ve gone through so many different eras. I had a point where I was like, “I have to figure out what feels best for me.” What type of hair? What type of makeup? I feel we’re coming out of a certain look of makeup that became popular because of Instagram. I feel we’re turning the corner now, where hopefully, there’s going to be a new look and new wave. Still, at the end of the day, I have to figure out how I feel most comfortable.
Brunson (continued): That’s really important to me because makeup and beauty is the thing I want to worry about the least. I don’t feel that I have that much time to worry about makeup and beauty, which is what makes finding products like this OLAY collection really important to me because it helps me to not have to think about things too much. I define beauty, like I said, as me feeling my most comfortable. To be honest, that might not be everybody else’s definition of beauty, but it’s mine. When I can look in the mirror and feel just good about myself, that to me is beauty.
For Black women in particular, we’re very influential. We’re very, very, very, very, very influential in every way, from hair to body to face. We know it. We see it. I think we just have to keep on loving ourselves and uplifting each other because that’s really important to remind ourselves that things that are within Black women, you can’t duplicate that. I think the more we love on each other and share with each other, the more we remind each other of that. No matter what the trends and waves are that we will always be influential.