Kerry Washington Told Me All of Her Best Beauty Secrets for Glowing Skin 24/7

Let's be honest. If you've had access to a television in the last 10 years, there's a good chance you've been introduced to one of Kerry Washington's ridiculously well-fleshed-out and relatable characters. But have you gotten to know the actress who brings them to life? We caught up with her just days before the first-ever Metaverse Beauty Week (held from June 12 to 17), featuring Neutrogena, who Washington was named a brand ambassador for in 2013. By downloading Decentraland, Spatial, and Roblox, users had the ability to explore 18 major beauty brands virtually.

Keep reading to learn more about the Scandal actress's go-to beauty routine, Neutrogena's unique Metaverse Beauty Week experience, and major upcoming projects to keep an eye out for. When Kerry Washington speaks, Who What Wear is definitely listening.


(Image credit: @kerrywashington)

Could you walk us through how you incorporate hydration into your everyday skincare routine?

Yes, of course, I can! That's the easiest place to start. I grew up with eczema, so I always had really sensitive, dry skin. Hydration has been a game changer for me. … I drink a lot of water, and I use electrolytes often. But the Hydro Boost line has been a total game changer! The Hydro Boost line and learning to really embrace hyaluronic acid have truly transformed the way I'm able to care for my skin and how my skin looks and feels.

I love the gel cleanser. It's great for my sensitive skin! It's fragrance-free, it's soap-free, it's paraben-free, hypoallergenic—all the things! But what it does really well is that it works like a real cleanser. I feel it removing all the dirt, oil, and ick from the day, but it's also locking in hydration at the same time, which I think is just amazing.

And then I usually follow it up with the Hydro Boost hyaluronic moisturizer with SPF 50, which is also really important. I love a product that multitasks. So a product that both moisturizes my skin really beautifully with the hyaluronic and protects me from UVA/UVB rays is just everything. 

Are there any other skincare practices and products that are nonnegotiable for you?

The big nonnegotiable for me is that I never go to sleep with makeup on. I always clean my face! Now, I will be honest with you. Sometimes, that might be the pack of Neutrogena makeup-remover wipes that sits on the side of my bed. Once or twice a month, that might be what it looks like. But generally speaking, I'm more of a double-cleanse girl. So I start with the wipes to get the day's ick off, and then I do a cleanser.

For me, it's really important to follow that up with retinal because, now that I'm done having babies, I have really embraced retinal products. Our Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinal Pro+ Power Serum is everything! It's so powerful but so gentle and user-friendly, so I love that serum. I think retinal is crazy important. I also love the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream and then following that up with moisturizer.


(Image credit: @kerrywashington)

Kind of related to that, are there any beauty tips or tricks that you learned while on set that you've continued to use when you're not filming?

The first time I discovered tiny blemish patches was on set. And I love Neutrogena's Stubborn Acne Blemish Patches because, no matter how hard I work to take care of my skin, occasionally those little enemies appear. But the patches are incredibly effective! We're the number one dermatologist-recommended acne patch brand. Learning about those was really amazing because I would leave set, put it on, and come back in the morning, and it looked physically improved, which is great! I think understanding that taking care of skin is really a holistic job. That it's not one product, but a lifestyle choice.

That's one of the reasons that I really love the Skin Vitals experience that we put together for the Metaverse Beauty Week because we're really talking about the internal and external aggressors that impact your skin, which means we're also talking about the environment, how hard travel is on it, and UV rays on your skin, but we also talk about lack of sleep, nutrition, and stress. I really learned on set that those things matter and that if I want to look good, it's about taking care of myself and feeling good first.

You pretty much just answered my next question, Kerry! I was going to ask what are some ways you practice self-care with such a busy schedule.

It's so funny! In this experience we created for the inaugural Metaverse Beauty Week (which is so exciting), we build this whole gameified experience, where you journey through the layers of the skin, from the dynamic barrier to the cellular activity. It's very cool! It sounds like complicated science because we're super into science at Neutrogena, but we've made it really fun for the consumer so that you learn while you're having a good time.

So in this experience, there are all of these aggressors that we have to battle to have healthy skin, like traveling. Traveling really dries out your skin. In that level, we talk about how important the Hydro Boost line is to helping with hydration in a drying environment. We talk about UV rays, and we have such an incredible spectrum of sunscreen products, but in particular, these days, I'm also really into our Mineral Tint UV because we have it in lots of shades, so it's friendly to different skin tones, and the minerals are really effective. It's like a tinted moisturizer with strong UV!

But in addition to talking about those things that you can impact with Neutrogena products, we also talk about a lack of sleep, stress, and nutrition. Those are the areas that I find I sometimes struggle with more, in particular stress. I have a lot of stuff going on and a lack of sleep. So it's really important for me to challenge myself to take better and better care of myself to make sure I'm really helping my skin to be its best from the outside and the inside out.


(Image credit: @kerrywashington)

If you had to offer some beauty advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

I would say, "Don't worry, younger self. One day, somebody's going to discover hyaluronic acid, and you're going to be okay." It's such a game changer! It took me a long time to really understand how important drinking water was and how important hydrating from the inside out is to my skin. And now, I see the difference. If I have a day where I don't get as much hydration on the inside, I can battle that a little bit with the hyaluronic acid, but being able to do both is really key—putting moisture on the outside, putting moisture on the inside.

Hyaluronic acid pulls my own moisture to the surface. So the more water that I drink, the better job it does at being effective. Now, I like to use this electrolyte drink that I really love called LMNT. It's those kinds of ways that I trick myself into getting more hydration and more effective hydration that I find to be really important. I would just tell myself as a younger person, "I know everybody tells you to drink water you don't believe it, but it's really, really true."

I'm dying to know as a Scandal fan, of all the iconic characters you've played, whose style and beauty would you steal and why?

That's so hard! Each of the characters means so much to me. I think it would be hard to deny Olivia Pope. I mean, we had a Scandal clothing line for god's sake! Her costume design by the amazing Lyn Paolo was really transformative and iconic. But I loved being able to wear a replica of Anita Hill's famous turquoise dress in the hearings, and I love Mia Warren's ability to make utilitarian fashion out of secondhand clothing. I love that beautiful, sparkly rainbow dress that I get to wear at the end of The Prom. There are so many beautiful fashion moments that I've been able to have through the characters that I've played. I feel really, really lucky.

Amazing! I love Mia's style, too, so she's on my list as well.

She's got that artistic, boho fashion she wears. I love it! I have to say I'm also obsessed with Paige's fashion in UnPrisoned. She also is somebody who really gravitates toward consignment and thrift shops but combining that with a timeless aesthetic. I really love her style! It is so feminine and accessible but also kind of spunky and smart. So I really love young Paige's fashion!

I love young Paige too! It's so believable.

Yes! Yes, that was amazing. That brilliant costume designer would buy doubles of all my clothes, and some incredible artisans would take the clothes apart, cut them down into new patterns, and sew them back together for Little Paige. It was really a tremendous task, and I thought they did it extraordinarily well.


(Image credit: @kerrywashington)

I absolutely loved watching it! So I'm looking forward to more. Where else can we see you this year? Are you working on any more fun projects?

We're going to have a second season for Reasonable Doubt, and I'll be continuing to produce and direct there. … And I have a feature that I just completed called Six Triple Eight with Tyler Perry that's inspired by the only all-female, all-Black battalion to go overseas in WWII, so that was really exciting to film. [Plus,] another big action movie from Lionsgate that I'm really excited about.

That's so exciting! There's so much to look forward to. And that's all this year?

I'm really, really excited about my memoir. That comes out September 26, and I'm actually in the process of finishing up recording the audiobook, which I'm reading. I worked really hard on this memoir. It's very personal, and it's probably the scariest and most important creative project I've ever been a part of. I'm really proud of it and excited to share it with readers.

I'm really excited that Neutrogena is sponsoring this first-ever Metaverse Beauty Week because it's a first-of-its-kind festival, which, to me, is exactly who we are at Neutrogena. We're always at the cutting edge of innovation and education. But it's exciting to have this opportunity to be teaching the consumer using our Skin Vitals [experience] to literally drop into the layers of the skin in this gamified experience. I love it because it really does help people understand how to take better care of themselves and understand themselves. That's what we're passionate about at Neutrogena!

We want people to feel as good when they take their makeup off as when they put it on, and we know that's a holistic job. Not just understanding the products that can improve your life (that we make and are so proud of) but also giving people tools to take care of themselves in more holistic ways like addressing sleep, stress, and nutrition. So I'm really excited for people to jump into their own skin and get a better understanding.

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Maya Thomas
Assistant Beauty Editor
Maya Thomas is Who What Wear's assistant beauty editor based just outside of Seattle, Washington. Her strong love for all things beauty and fashion stems from a strong childhood interest in the fine arts. During a gap year spent in Paris studying the history of French fashion, she shifted her focus to English literature and journalism as a student at Loyola Marymount University with the goal of one day pursuing a career in fashion. After graduating in May 2021, Maya began freelancing for as a contributing commerce writer while also building a following on her lifestyle blog, When she's not writing, Maya spends her free time catching up on reading, perusing art galleries, and enjoying a night out at the ballet every now and then.