Regina King on skincare equity and pushing to have Black hairstylists on set: 'That's why you see so many women with wigs'

Regina King is speaking out about inequality in skincare. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Regina King is speaking out about inequality in skincare. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

From her critically acclaimed directorial debut of One Night in Miami to her Oscar- and Emmy-winning performances, Regina King has mastered the art of storytelling. And when the actress and director isn't busy telling the stories of others, she tells Yahoo Life that she often finds herself immersed in her own.

"I really didn't journal regularly, but during this time that we've all been in, I've found myself [going] back to my journals," she admits. "And I've been reading my old journals, [and] that's been surprisingly very therapeutic because I've been able to see how much I've grown in some spaces. I've also been able to see places where I know I'm never going to change. 'Oh yeah, I was saying that 10 years ago,' which is a good thing. It helps you to embrace who you are. I feel like we're always constantly evolving as people."

One thing King hopes will evolve is a sense of urgency around racial equity. The star has partnered with Vaseline on their Equitable Skincare For All campaign, which aims to bring awareness to healthcare inequities and offer support to "culturally competent" dermatologists who are well-versed in knowing how to treat skin belonging to people of color.

King says she hopes the campaign, which she promoted on BET last week, will result in "more young aspiring doctors [being] encouraged to want to take on that form of medicine."

She adds, "Even those young doctors that aren't Black, as they're going on in their journey to become a dermatologist, [I hope] that they realize they're becoming a dermatologist for everyone, not just for white people. Hopefully they recognize that, and hopefully the actual colleges [and] institutions will recognize that."

Here, she shares more about her own approach to wellness, from self-worth to sleep.

You’ve been working in Hollywood for a long time. Have you ever had a moment on a set where you felt your basic needs as a Black woman weren’t given the same level of attention?

I've definitely found [that] I was lucky my start was on 227. Marla Gibbs was the producer of that show as well as the star of the show [and] she's always been proud to be Black, and has always uplifted the voices of Black people and Black artists. I was lucky to be in a situation where all of our stylists and makeup artists were all Black. So I had a very interesting experience coming in that I did not realize was a unique experience. You know, it wasn't until after that, that I was like, "Oh, things don't go like this. Oh, there aren't Black hair stylists in the union. What's the union?"

And then I was on productions where the white hair department head said they were familiar with doing hair of my texture when they weren't able to do [my hair]. When I would ask about a Black hairstylist the response would be that there aren't a lot of Black hair stylists in the union and what was just baffling to me, ‘cause I know so many Black hair stylists. So I'm like, why aren't they in the union? And it's because things are kind of designed in a way to make it difficult for marginalized people to access, in this case, the union to access the appropriate set to be on to fulfill the hours that you need to fulfill, to become a part of the union.

That's why you see so many women with wigs and a lot of times it would even be bad wigs because again, you have someone that's not capable of doing hair.

What are your go-to techniques for fighting stress and anxiety?

[I like] to have a regular exercise regimen, although that's sometimes tough, but I do feel the difference when I have been working out consistently. I definitely feel a difference in just how my body moves to how I sleep, which I think is one of the biggest things. The key to stress in a lot of our lives is lack of sleep.

Do you have any small self-care rituals that you use to brighten your day?

I have found in the past, maybe, couple of months, how much a bath feels like self-care. Oh my gosh, it's just time of doing nothing and just letting my body let go ‘cause in the bathtub, it's being in a pool where you can allow your body to be [and] feel weightless.

Any tips for instilling self-worth?

I can't say it enough, [don’t] compare yourself to the person next to you, compare yourself to who you were on Monday or who you were two years ago. And that way you can actually — especially if you're journaling — have evidence of the growth, have evidence of what you did to exhibit self-care. I think so often we get caught up in, "Oh, I'm not doing enough of that because look what he's doing." Well, that may not be how God's designed you. There are some things that we do as humans that are learned things and then there are some things that are like that because they're cosmic, that's how we were designed and that is not going to change because this was your purpose. Some people live a lifetime and never find that out.

What brings you joy?

My family brings me joy. I love to laugh, that brings me joy. There's a lot of things, a lot of simple things. It's the simple things in life bringing me joy.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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