If Taraji P. Henson weren’t acting, she’d probably be doing hair. As a college student, the Empire star would do wet sets (styling wet hair with rollers immediately after cleansing) for her classmates as a side hustle. And while her talent and onscreen magnetism have gained her 32 awards and a mess of nominations, the latest chapter in Henson’s career is taking her back to her first love. "I always loved and understood hair," she tells Allure. "Growing up, we took [it] very seriously. I was always in a salon every week getting a different hairstyle."
TPH by Taraji is the fruit of Henson’s decades-long passion for hair, grown from her own experiences styling and nurtured by the kind of trial-and-error we all go through when learning how to take care of our own hair. The 18-piece line is divided into four color-coded parts: teal for cleansing and care, red for repair, purple for treatment stylers, and yellow for scalp-care products.
As Henson tells Allure, scalp care lies at the heart of TPH, due to her own experiences wearing weaves over the years. "The first time I went to get the weave taken out, it smelled like mildew. I was so embarrassed. I was washing my hair, but wasn't doing drying the weft," she explains. "When you have a weave or an install, your hair is braided down and then sometimes they sew a hair net down on top of that and then they sew the hair tracks on top of that. My dilemma was how do I get to my scalp? How do I clean it? I didn't ever want that mildew smell again." Her Master Cleanse, the hero product, is inspired by a homemade concoction Henson made just to refresh her scalp when she wears weaves.
The collection wasn't made with a specific hair type in mind, nor is it solely for people who wear weaves. Henson says she created TPH hair for every texture, from silky and stick-straight, to fluffy, gravity-defying z-shaped zig-zag strands. So, we tested the range on five different hair types.
Jihan Forbes, digital hair editor
3C/4A curls and kinks
I hadn’t even squeezed out a lick of product before I knew that what TPH had to offer was major. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a beauty product by its packaging. But look, I have several water placements in my birth chart, plus I’m a cancer sun, so my intuition is always on point. So let’s just get it out of the way: The packaging for each product was gorgeous.
I started by testing the TPH Never Salty Scalp Scrub ($13). This is the part when I turn the lights down low and put on my Barry White voice, because baby, I’ve fallen in love. I’ve gotten into the practice of using a scalp scrub every wash day, and I’ve tried a million of them. Many are forgettable. This one does not fall into that category.
A lot of scalp scrubs are made with salt, this one uses large granules of sugar to get the exfoliation done. When I use a scalp scrub, I part my hair and then apply a bit of product to each section to ensure I exfoliate my entire scalp. The TPH scrub contains peppermint oil, which gives you a tingly feeling you can still feel when you wash it out. I liken it to the feeling of being able to breathe again when I landed in New York after spending four days in Colorado's higher altitude.
The Honey Fresh shampoo ($10) and Make It Rain conditioner ($10) worked well. The shampoo didn’t make my hair dry or tangled and the conditioner did what needed to be done: detangled and softened my hair. Both were made to cater to all hair types, so they couldn’t be too heavy. I'm hoping in the future TPH adds a shampoo and conditioner specifically for kinky and curly hair types. I find that formulas made for my texture give me more of the curl definition and softness I look for. However, these would be a great option if you live in a house with people of several different hair types.
No wash day is complete without a deep conditioner, and I used TPH’s After Dark overnight mask ($15) after cleansing. The deep conditioner has a firm consistency, which felt promising. As for its actual use, again, it was made for all hair types, so it worked nicely, but I typically prefer something that provides even more conditioning. However, all this does is pose an opportunity for the brand to come up with a deep conditioner for tightly-coiled hair types, which I would buy in a heartbeat.
The Smooth Attitude leave-in ($13) served as a beautiful base for my wash-and-gos. I followed it with my favorite curl cream before sealing it in it all together with the Tough Cookie gel ($10). The gel is a little on the watery side and doesn’t dry out your hair. I finished off with the Slick edge control ($9), which comes in a squeeze bottle. Personally, I prefer edge controls that I can scoop out because I find the application easier, but this did the job.
In between washes, I used the Hustle and Co. co-wash ($10), which, besides the scalp scrub, is my favorite product in this line. It gently cleanses and makes my hair feel incredibly soft after I wash it out. Softer even than the conditioner does. My hair was pretty tangled by the time I got around to using this stuff, and I noticed I didn’t need to glob on a ton of product in order to get the slip I needed to detangle my hair. I’ve already transferred some of my full-sized bottle into a travel-sized container because I refuse to be caught on a trip without it.
Another product from the line I’ve been using religiously is the Guardian curl refresher ($10) with "city shield," which protects your hair from the ravages of pollution. I use this in the morning to revive and fluff out my hair after a night's sleep. It’s lightweight and locks in the moisture I need without making my hair feel weighed down. My only issue? That it doesn’t come in a larger bottle. I love it so much, I think I'm gonna need a jumbo size.
Nicola Dall'Asen, digital staff writer
I didn’t even know I had a natural 2C/3A texture until recently, and finding curl-friendly products that aren’t too light or heavy for my fine hair has been a task, y’all. Even harder has been finding ways to maintain my curls throughout the week, because they always go flat after a night of sleep, silk pillowcase be damned.
I’ve taken to using the TPH shampoo once or twice per week. The citrusy honey smell emanates throughout the whole bathroom, and it lingers on my hair for the rest of the day. It cuts through product and oil buildup and hydrates at the same time, so I never have to worry about overdoing it and causing a dry scalp.
The conditioner has a similar kick of honey and citrus scent, and I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but my hair cannot quit it. When I squish it into my wet hair, it completely disappears as it absorbs all the way in, a rarity for me. I only need to rinse it half of the way out because it’s so lightweight.
With nothing but a little product and a 20-minute plop in a microfiber towel, my curls spring to life. Even my stubborn-as-hell bangs coil up tighter than usual and stay that way for days, to the point that my everyday look has become a messy bun that lets my curly bangs fall forward. When the curls start to loosen, I spritz a heap of curl refresher all over and scrunch them back into place. And if you're wondering if my hair feels crunchy after applying it, the answer is no.
After using these products exclusively for a month, I doubt I’ll be replacing these products in my shower any time soon.
Faith Cummings, contributing writer
Is there any better way to start the new year than with new hair care? I wasn’t natural a decade ago, so it has been amazing to see how the natural hair-care industry has evolved and expanded over the past 10 years. Taraji P. Henson is coming for our necks in the 2020s with this hair line. I can't say I'm surprised — she's been one of my personal celebrity hair icons, so I was thrilled to learn she was translating that into an actual collection, especially since I’m always looking for the next miracle product to add to my routine.
The packaging got me right off the bat: architectural bottles in bright hues of turquoise, yellow, and red. They're just beautiful. And it was clear Taraji was thorough when she created this collection — it’s rare for a line to debut with products like a scalp scrub and tension soothers from the onset. I could really tell she was thinking fully about the range of the average person's hair-care needs.
I began with the scalp scrub, which I loved because of its clever nozzle that allowed the product to get right onto the scalp easily. I then followed with the shampoo, co-wash, and conditioner. I found them to all be creamy, dreamy, and softening on my hair. All three are still in my shower. The mask was next, and it left my hair detangled and my coils defined. It's an overnight mask, but I cheated and used it for half an hour — it still worked well for me. Post-shower, I applied the leave-in conditioner to my hair, which gave it another well-received punch of moisture. Then, I finished with African Pride’s Flaxseed Oil and Shea Butter Curl Defining Gel n’Creme as a twist-out product, as I prefer creamier styling products on my hair, as opposed to a gel.
Overall, I’m so impressed with what she’s created. My hair looked fluffy and alive, and felt even better, too.
Paige Stables, beauty editor
Fine, straight hair
I'm particular about my hair. It's super-fine, highlighted, and I've gone blunt bangs. Taking care of it is a balancing act. I try to keep my blonde from looking brassy and maintain healthy, hydrated ends, while also adding all-over fullness with strategic styling. And as someone who uses a blow-dryer all the time (I never, ever air dry), I’m always looking for new products that will help streamline my morning routine.
At first glance, TPH's rainbow of bold, beautiful bottles certainly looked worthy of an entire shelf in my shower. And with witty names like “Serene Queen” and “Ride or Die,” I had a good feeling they would also be staying there.
After a few days of relying on dry shampoo, I was ready to put my TPH by Taraji lineup to the test. I started with Master Cleanse ($14), the targeted scalp wash. The innovative comb-like applicator made it easy to target the eucalyptus and tea tree oil cleanser directly onto my scalp. As I massaged it into my roots, there was a slight tingly feeling. I took it as a sign it was working. Even without a rich lather, my scalp — and my senses — were soothed with this refreshing solution.
Next up: Mint Condition ($12), a scalp conditioner. As someone who usually only conditions from my mid-shaft to my ends, I was a bit skeptical about putting this on my scalp (heavy, oily roots aren't my thing). But considering how refreshed I already felt from Master Cleanse, I quickly proceeded to use the tri-touch applicator to dispense the conditioner and rub the blend of aloe, shea butter, and peppermint into my roots. While I let it sit, I scooped out a dab of Mother Earth ($15), the brand's kaolin clay mask and coated my ends. For a moment, I thought to myself, “I’ve done too much.” But when I rinsed out the two treatments, my hair felt baby soft.
Now, for the true test: my blowout. I had two choices: Ride or Die ($6), the detangling leave-in, or Hot Commodity ($13), the heat protectant. At that moment, using both sounded good to me. I spritzed the leave-in on my ends, and my comb glided through my damp hair. Before I began blow-drying, I misted Hot Commodity on my roots and ends. Again, I have super-fine hair. So, at this point, I wondered how it would dry, having used more products than normal. To my delight, my hair dried silky-smooth with plenty of volume. Even better, my bangs looked perfectly polished and frizz-free, which is no small feat in the world of bangs. A month later, I'm still using all five products together.
Jessica Cruel, features director
As a natural, the hardest part of my wash day routine is shampooing. It’s often difficult to get the product past my 4B curls down to my roots where it belongs. Often, I’ll pour my shampoo into a bottle with a nozzle to make it easier, and I partition my hair into about eight sections to really make sure I’m getting my scalp clean.
Taraji took care of all that. Her clarifying Master Cleanse is watery enough that it’s easy to make sure that no area gets missed, plus the slight tingle the product creates when you massage it in means you can really feel where it's penetrating. In my routine, I used it as a deep clarifying treatment before hopping in the shower. Once I added water, this cleanser didn’t lather as much as most (it’s sulfate-free), but it cleared away weeks of flakes and edge-control gel with the blend of witch hazel water, eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil.
Now, I'm dreaming up all the ways I can use this product to make my braided protective styles last a couple of weeks longer.
TPH by Taraji is available at Target stores, and it's affordable as heck, too. Expect to spend between $6 and $15 for any of the products.
Check out these hair stories:
- Four Women Who Are Reclaiming the Narrative on Hijabis
- The Best Hair Masks Under $20
- These Were the Best Short Haircuts Celebrities Had in the '90s
Now, take a look inside Willam's dressing room:
Originally Appeared on Allure