Keke Palmer, a self-proclaimed “millennial diva,” is having her best year ever. For starters, she was recently tapped to become the third full-time co-host of a Good Morning America spin-off, alongside Michael Strahan and Sarah Haines. The actress also stars with Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Lili Reinhart in Hustlers, which is already getting Oscar buzz. The gag is — that doesn’t even scratch the surface of Palmer’s projects.
Just this week, she made her New York Fashion Week runway debut in the Christian Cowan presentation. She’s got new music on the horizon, and an upcoming spread in Playboy Magazine. And now, she can add beauty ambassador to her résumé, thanks to a huge partnership with Olay. Palmer is doing what she does best: hustling.
We sat down with the actress to talk growing up in the spotlight, embracing acne and her natural hair, and her priciest beauty habit. As Palmer would say: Get into it, ahead.
To many of your fans, it feels like you’ve grown up with us. Do you ever struggle with shedding your child-star image and the expectations that come with that?
“I’ve become used to the pressures that come with being a child star. Now, I just think of everyone as a family member. You can go off to college, be pregnant and married, and be as grown as hell, but everyone will always think of you as ‘little Tee-Tee.'”
How has growing up in the spotlight and on social media influenced your relationship with your skin?
“There has always been pressure to look perfect at all times. Those pressures were causing me anxiety because I used to struggle with my skin. I was so held down by what other people thought about me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to care less.
“Now, I do whatever it takes to make myself feel better, whether that means not wearing any makeup, not hiding my acne scars, or changing my hair. Realizing that I have power over myself and my confidence felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. , which is very liberating.”
So what does your beauty routine look like now?
“I use a lot of Tata Harper products on my skin. I love them because they’re free of chemicals, which is important to me since my skin is extremely sensitive. I love Olay body wash because it’s moisturizing, which is great for when I forget to put on lotion. Other than that, I try to keep it simple — except for facials.”
What’s your facial routine like?
“When I was younger, I worked with dermatologists for my acne, and a lot of their solutions involved harsh medication. I didn’t want to take that route as an adult, so I go to estheticians and facialists to help keep my skin clear. I try to get a facial once every two weeks, which can be expensive. When I can’t get one in, I do a charcoal mask and steam my face at home.”
What about your on-screen body routine for Hustlers. Did you have to cover up any of your tattoos?
“On stage, we used a lot of body glitter so we could glow. In previous roles, I’ve had to cover up many of my tattoos, but not for Hustlers, which I was so happy about. Mercedes [her character in the movie] was looking real cute with a big ol’ mural on her side.”
Let’s talk about your hair. You shaved your head a while back, are you still growing out your natural hair?
“Yes, I am currently on a natural hair journey, which has been really fun. As a kid, I remember being able to brush my hair up into ponytails and let my ‘fro hang free. Now, it’s like I don’t even know what to do with my own hair. It started to make me feel ashamed. I had to ask myself: Do I love my natural hair?
“I shaved my hair off, and when I did, I felt really proud. Now, my philosophy is: Do whatever you want with your hair. Color it, wear wigs, silk press it — but don’t get to the point of liking only one version of yourself.”
How has your hair-care regimen changed since starting your natural hair journey?
“Since I’ve started growing my hair out, I’ve tried to avoid using hot tools and coloring it. I use oils and products from Cantu. Sometimes I let my conditioner and oil sit in my hair, then I steam it and shampoo. I also love wigs because they give me a break from styling my hair. Now I look at my texture, and I get excited by it. My curls are poppin’ because I’m showing them love.”
So what’s next for Keke on this journey of self-awareness and growth?
“Listen, life is all about the glow up right now. My ethos going into a new year of life is to keep growing no matter how fast or slow the next season might be. Life isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
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