One-part activist, one-part actor, one-part glamourpuss: Mix that in a bowl, then add a generous helping of talent, grace, and affability and you'll get Laverne Cox.
Orange Is the New Black, the series that gave Cox her breakout role, may have come to a close, but she, like any true professional, is still going strong. Cox made a hilarious appearance in the first episode of A Black Lady Sketch Show, is slated for an appearance in the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and is busy firing up folks in our country to get involved in the political process. Earlier this month, she was speaking and encouraging people to organize and rally before the Supreme Court hears a case to decide whether the LGBTQ+ community is protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevents employers from discriminating against folks because of their race, religion, or sex.
But Cox's activism doesn't stop there. She recently teamed up with Band-Aid and Red to promote their latest collaboration. The pair came together to design some supercute Band-Aids that will make you feel as good about your purchase as they look. As you may know, Red's mission is to raise money to help end HIV/AIDS, specifically in sub-Sarahan Africa, with the help of the Global Fund. The Band-Aids are available exclusively at CVS.
"[Purchasing] one of these boxes can provide one day's worth of lifesaving medication for someone living with HIV," Cox tells Allure. "A lot of the work Red does with the Global Fund, it's also about prevention. It's about education around HIV and AIDS, as well as providing condoms." Another huge part of the campaign? Getting rid of the stigma surrounding the virus. "There are so many misconceptions that people have," she continues. "There's so much information people still don't have [about] HIV and AIDS, and we can end that."
When she's not working as a warrior for equal rights (she started the hashtag #tansisbeautiful), or helping raise awareness of a litany of social issues, Laverne Cox is a gal who loves glam. That much is obvious if you look at her Instagram page. It's peppered with photos of her posing in fluffy, fairy-tale-like gowns, and for us beauty nerds, there are plenty of shots focusing on her always-stunning hair and makeup. When she's not keeping her look nude and neutral, Cox loves a colored smoky eye. Another thing she loves? Blonde hair... at least on her.
We sat down with the actor to talk about her beauty routine, her signature blonde hair, and wearing multiple wigs in one day.
ALLURE: You recently served three gowns — and three different wigs — in one evening at parties leading up to the Emmys. Tips for anyone who dares attempt such a fabulous feat?
LAVERNE COX: I have a lot of help. I'm not washing my wigs anymore. I have a couple of different people who will maintain, wash, and set them. Kiyah Wright, who does my hair, did this piece [I'm wearing]. It's a piece I bought that she custom-colored. Bradley [Irion] cut it on me yesterday. [I work with amazing artists], like Dee TrannyBear, who lives here in New York, Kiyah in L.A. Dee does a lot of my color — just brilliant with color. A lot of times, I'll buy a piece and I'll have Dee do it. Sometimes Dee has pieces there that get colored and styled for me. It's an operation when I think about it.
I'm very privileged to be able to have different people work on [my] pieces. Ideally, I want to have them styled and ready to go. Sometimes, like today, this [wig] is all styled and cute, so I'll try to take her off and hang her up in a certain way or place so she stays and keeps the shape so that I can just go. Believe it or not, I don't have hair and makeup people following me around every day. Sometimes I don't even wear makeup so I can give my skin time to breathe.
On that night that we did three different looks, I started out with this sort of grayish-silver vibe that I'm obsessed with. Dee did that piece for me. I originally wore that wig in New York when we lit the Empire State Building orange for the Orange Is the New Black premiere. Then Kiyah cut it for Emmys, and that gunmetal dress. The third piece was actually pink — I don't know if people could tell. It was this really kind of subtle pink that was in the blonde family. The middle piece was more of a golden blonde.
ALLURE: You tend to gravitate a lot toward variations of blonde hair. What's your favorite shade to wear?
LC: I'm loving this [color I have now]. It's like a little ashier than some of the golden tones we were looking at. I just wore blonde for the Creative Arts Emmys, and Kiyah did that [piece] as well. It's got a little more golden undertone to it, which is cool. I also do a lot of honey blondes, but I'm loving this sort of icy color with lowlights. Dimensionality is really important, especially for women of color attempting blondes.
It's funny, because I had Dee do some pieces for me that are over to the brunette family, with highlights that have a dark or just overall darker vibe to them. I have not worn them yet 'cause Kiyah loves me blonde and Brandon loves me blonde. I love me [as a] blonde too, but I want to mix it up. Sometimes with the clothes I've been wearing, the other darker hair [hasn't made it] in terms of the team feeling it's right. But at some point, I'm going to wear them — there are pieces waiting to be worn that are darker.
It's funny, because I read the comments [online from my fans] and they love the blonde. But some people are like, "Switch it up, we're over the blonde," and then some people, when I go dark, they want me blonde again. There's always going to be different opinions.
I think I look really good blonde. For whatever reason, I think it softens me more than other colors.
ALLURE: I can't tell you how many times I've seen photos of you and, at first glance, thought it was Beyoncé. I know you two don't actually look identical, but sometimes I just have to rub my eyes to make sure.
LC: It's so funny, because I've only met Beyoncé in person once, and if you look at the photo, I have black hair in the photo. We look nothing alike. I think what it is is that for the culture — even other black people — their reference for black women with blonde hair is Beyoncé, because she's so iconic. She has done it in a way that, like everything she has done, it's like it has never been done before. It's like she invented walking; she invented everything because she is Beyoncé. So in a way, it's a compliment.
As much as I love Beyoncé — and I think everyone knows, OK? I'm in the Beyhive, like, hardcore — it's a little frustrating because, well, part of it is that I think I look really good blonde. For whatever reason, I think it softens me more than other colors. Even without makeup, with the right hues, it kind of wakes my face up. In the beginning, when people would say that [I reminded them of Beyoncé,] I was like, "Oh my God," and now I'm just like, "Well, I'm Laverne — inspired by Beyoncé," but I'm inspired by so many people.
"But what she has done is provide a reference and a space that didn't exist, which gives me space that I wouldn't have had if Beyoncé didn't exist."
The beauty of someone who is as iconic as Beyoncé, is that she becomes a reference for people. Destiny's Child came out in 1997. It was a different time. They became mainstream with "Writings on the Wall," but we didn't have a lot of references for black girls who were as mainstream as Destiny's Child became, and then Beyoncé became. That reference point created space for other folks. I think that's really what it's about. It's less that I — 'cause I don't — look like Beyoncé. (I wish!) But what she has done is provide a reference and a space that didn't exist, which gives me space that I wouldn't have had if Beyoncé didn't exist. That is incredible.
ALLURE: What's your skin-care routine?
LC: I'm not a product person. I mean, obviously, I use things. I did have some pore issues over the weekend — usually, my pores are great, but they were just a little like, "What's going on, Deja [Smith, my makeup artist]?" We tried some Clinique stuff for the Emmys and I'm starting to use their pore serum. So I just started using that to address the pores.
But I try to keep it simple: I just moisturize and I have a really puffy undereye area so I just do different depuffers and eye creams. That's it. Sometimes doing too many things can make your skin just kind of go crazy.
ALLURE: You're the first person I've talked to in a long time with such a simple skin-care regimen.
LC: I think it's also about diet. It's about what I put in my body. I notice when my diet is different, my skin's different, so it's an inside-out situation as well.
ALLURE: Any drugstore skin-care items you're particularly fond of?
Olay Regenerist has an eye depuffer — I love their eye creams. There's an eye roller from L'Oréal [that's also] a depuffer. So it's those things from the drugstore. I also love that the press-on [nails] are getting so good. The Kiss press-ons you can get, you glue them on — they're so good. When I'm in a pinch, I love going to the drugstore for them.
ALLURE: I am obsessed with them, too, but I always gravitate toward the super-long ones and then have to take them off after two days because I'm not used to nails that long.
LC: You need to get the active ovals. There's an active oval that doesn't have color and you can paint them. They also have ones that are fun, that are inspired by gel manicures.
ALLURE: You always have such gorgeous eye makeup. We're especially fans of your smoky eye looks. What eye shadows are your fave to work with?
I do my own makeup sometimes. Today, obviously, Deja did my makeup, but I have people, teams. Sometimes Deja does my makeup, sometimes Tay, Adam, Ernesto. So I have different makeup artists based on the city and availability. They can tell you more about palettes — I have no idea. But I do know that there are some things that I like. I went to M.A.C., and John Demsey sent me some stuff from Tom Ford and from Patrick Starrr's makeup line. There was a gorgeous eye shadow that I became obsessed with and I started using on myself when I did my own makeup. I've always loved M.A.C.'s eye shadows. There's also the Fenty palette that Rihanna's people sent me. I love some of those colors.
I love a black eyeliner in the waterline and along the lash line on top. I love when I do my own makeup. Sometimes it'll be pops of color, but I love neutrals and different shades of brown to keep it kind of understated when I do my makeup. But for me, it's really about the skin. I'm still working on doing as well as a professional, paying attention and seeing what they do. I'm not quite there, but it's better.
ALLURE: Who are your biggest beauty influences?
LC: I get inspiration from everyone, really. We were looking at Zendaya at the Emmys and she's just so flawless. Her brows, her hair — everything's flawless.
But I get inspiration from everybody. If I see a look that excites me, I'll be on Pinterest, YouTube, or whatever, I'll screenshot it and send it, or I'll make a little folder and say, "Deja, I want to do this" with hair, makeup, whatever. Sometimes I come with ideas, and sometimes I have no idea what it will be.
Read more stories on beauty:
- Laverne Cox Washes Her Face With Baby Shampoo
- How Beyoncé Works With Rita Hazan to Get the Perfect Shade of Blonde
- Laverne Cox Has an Amazing New Nail Collection With Orly
Here's how to do a French braid on yourself:
Originally Appeared on Allure