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What Taraji P. Henson Can’t Live Without

Illustration: Joe McKendry, Photo: courtesy of TPH by Taraji

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked Taraji P. Henson — who recently launched a new collection of products for her TPH by Taraji hair-care line — about the nail kit, eye patches, and slippers she can’t live without.

Addicted. I once got them in a gift bag, and then I took it back to my makeup artist on Empire and was like, “I need all of these.” And she was like, “You know I’ve been putting those on you for the last six seasons.” I was like, “Really?” When I first started using them, I irritated my eyes because I was using them every day. That’s how much I loved them. My eyes got real dry and flaky underneath, and then I read the fine print, and it said, “Do not use every day.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, got it.” I can literally see the difference: I can see the puffiness shrink in the morning. I’ve even put one on one eye — because I’m a Virgo and I’m crazy — and left the other eye without it, and I could see the difference right away.

I’ve been playing with color a lot lately. With natural hair, you can really play with color because you don’t have any other chemicals in it. The only chemical that you should be putting in your hair is bleach, so that semi-permanent colors can take. I never put a permanent color in my hair; the only thing that’s permanent is the bleach, and by doing that, I can really be the hair chameleon that I am. I use about four different colors to make the shade of red that I wear. I remember my stylist saying, “Use Adore because they have all the colors and the pigment is great.” But then of course I experimented and threw in this and that because that’s just what I do. If you saw how many colors I have, you would be like, Damn, do you have a store?

I love to cook. These pots are nonstick — and I mean NONstick. Yes, you can burn something in it, but they make it hard for you to do so. Like, if you burn something in these pots, you really don’t know what the hell you’re doing. They’re easy to clean. I love the colors. I have Le Creuset pots, too, which also come in different colors. I’m a colorful girl, and I never stick to one color.

When I moved to L.A. and started working in the industry, my life became all about taking care of my skin. I’ve been using this for more than 20 years. When it comes to my face, I don’t experiment: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some creams have too much perfume, and I’ve tried others that sit on my face and never soak in. My skin soaks this up. I’ve tried them all and it is the one for me.

It has a self-clean button — just throw some water in there and it cleans itself. So I can make ice cream or a smoothie, clean it quickly, and then make hot soup right after that. I just love it. Sometimes when I do my smoothies, I move too fast and forget to take the pits out of the dates I throw in. I can hear them, but when it comes time to drink the smoothie, the pits are gone.

I love these. I got them as a set and together they’re everything my cuticles love and need. The cuticle remover softens cuticles instantly. You don’t have to sit there. I had another one where you had to sit for like 45 seconds or something. This is immediate.

They look like Jordans. I would stand in line for these slippers because they’re so comfortable. They’re big and they’re fluffy. They came up on Instagram — that algorithm. I had to stop myself from buying every color. I have a cousin who thinks that Nike just gives me everything because I’m a celebrity. He thinks that’s how it works. He thinks that I can pick up the phone and call, and they’re just going to send me all colors and sizes. Next Christmas, I want to buy him every pair of these slippers. They have seven pairs, and I’m getting all of them for him. I’m going to say, “Here are all the Jordans I could never get you.”

Back in the day, when I was in college, I used to do nails to make my little McDonald’s money. During the pandemic, I’ve had nothing but time and Amazon, so I fully stocked my home with all the things that are at the salon. I got some mannequin hands and I started going to the University of YouTube to teach myself how to do nails. Later on, when a nail artist came to do my nails, she used this system. I was like, Oh my God, I can do this. When she went to the bathroom, I went all up in her kit and then went online and ordered it all. And I love it. You’ve got to have some kind of skill to use it; some people can’t give themselves manicures, but I can. I like doing this kind of complicated stuff.

I have to do a lot of tutorials for my brand, and I can’t look crazy. I don’t do lash extensions anymore because I spend too much of my time laying up on a table. But I have bulbous eyes that water a lot, and it’s also hard to keep lashes on when I’m doing wet work for my tutorials. My makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff designed these eyelash strips — not for me; she did it on her own — and they are amazing because they stick. The included glue is magnetic, and there’s a little magnet strip on each lash, so as soon as you get one close enough, it attaches itself. It’s the most brilliant thing: If you can line your eye, then you can wear these lashes. You get two sets, one for daytime and one that’s a little more dramatic for nighttime. Remember actually going into an office and leaving to meet friends at a bar for a drink? Well, this set would be great for that because you wear the daytime lashes, and then, when you leave, you take those off and pop on the nighttime ones.

I started my line because I was looking for scalp care and nothing existed. When I moved to Hollywood, people weren’t as receptive of Black women and natural hair as they are today. Even though I was natural, I couldn’t wear my natural hair because I wouldn’t get hired. I had to weave European hair into my head. So I get to L.A. fresh with natural hair, and then I start weaving it. I was like, This is great. This is cute. But how do I get to my hair? I’ve been using this concoction on my scalp for more than 15 years — long before I started TPH. Basically for as long as I’ve been wearing weaves. I remember being on vacation with a good friend of mine and her daughter. They had protective styles, and they kept complaining about itchy scalp. So I was like, “Okay, here, use this. It’s what I use.” They went and used it and came out and said, “Oh my God, my scalp has never felt like this before.”

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What Taraji P. Henson Can’t Live Without