Kerry Washington may be a gladiator, but she still has struggles like the rest of us — including conquering her cosmetics bag. "I think beauty is an inside job, and sometimes makeup can feel very complicated," the Scandal star and Neutrogena brand ambassador tells Refinery29. "For me, we look most beautiful when we feel most beautiful. And that's not to say it doesn't help to have some tools in your toolkit."
That idea led the star to design her own makeup products with Neutrogena, including the Essential Cheek Palette and the Essential Eye Palette, which both launched at Ulta yesterday. "I wanted to create something easy and accessible that you could just throw in your bag... so that no matter what else I'm wearing or using that day, I have the bottom line essential needs."
She also worked to ensure the colors and formulas celebrated everyone and their own personal style. "I think I have a particular sensitivity about that as a Black woman, because growing up, it felt like there was an aesthetic where you were supposed to look 'other,'" Washington explains. "I was lucky to grow up in a home with a mom where I was surrounded by Essence and Black Barbie dolls and images of beauty that looked like the world I come from. But I'm really sensitive to the beauty industry preying on insecurities, presenting ideas that are unattainable, or even making us feel like something that we're not, as opposed to recognizing the beauty of what we are."
That's part of why the shade names are also affirmations, including Brilliant, Confident, Captivating, and Powerful. "I just wanted the product to evoke those inner qualities that make us feel beautiful," she says. "Plus, the palettes were inspired by people. I've met so many incredible people that fall on different places on the gender spectrum who are using our products and living big, bold, complicated, busy, beautiful lives. The kit isn't about being somebody else. It's about being the flirty version of you. The empowered version of you. This is really about bringing your best qualities and your best self forward."