Kerry Washington’s Nail and Skin-Care Routines Are Every Bit as Classic as She Is | Interview

“I like to go really, really short with them, then grow them out to a long, slightly angled oval — kind of almond,” she says. But it takes more than a few good products to grow nails out without breaking or peeling, Washington reminds me. “I had a nail stylist say to me years ago to treat your nails like jewels, not tools.” I can’t help but laugh because she says this just as I’m cracking open a can of seltzer with my bare nails. She’s better at this whole nail-care thing than I am, clearly.

Whatever the state of Washington’s nails, you can bet that she’s wearing some iteration of her staple shade: red. Funnily enough, OPI’s metallic red Nail Lacquer shade I’m Not Really a Waitress has been a go-to of Washington’s since the 1990s, when she actually was a waitress. She still uses it to this day, but it’s taken on a different name entirely: I’m Really an Actress. The new name takes effect this year with OPI’s big anniversary, creating a full-circle moment for Washington. “I feel like I’ve come into my own because I spent the late ’90s and early 2000s working in restaurants while I was trying to make it as an actress,” she jokes. “And now I am an actress.”

Washington feels no shame, by the way, in embracing trends of the past. “The ’90s are definitely back; I think it’s fun to realize how many of those looks are classic,” she says. “There might be a moment where suddenly everybody’s like ‘No frosted lips,” but then five or 10 years later, everybody’s like, ‘You know what’s really cute? A frosted lip.'”

This mentality also applies to her favorite products from that era, some of which she still uses today. “I don’t use it all the time because my skin is pretty sensitive, but sometimes if I’m having [a breakout], I go back to that Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash that I used when I was a teenager.” And don’t get her started on the brand’s Rainbath Shower Gel. “I have four of them in my shower; four different colors and scents.”

Looking forward to 2021, Washington hopes to infuse more of that nostalgia into her beauty looks. In fact, there’s one old-school hair trend that she’s been “fantasizing” about non-stop. “I did a lot of roller sets in the ’90s, and I always think it’s fun to go back to roller sets with my hair,” she says with audible excitement. “I haven’t done a roller set in a while since I’m doing my [own] hair mostly, but I should just bite the bullet, do a roller set, sit under the dryer in my living room, and see what happens.”

The day she finally does it, it’s sure to become a widespread trend all over again. Because just like her favorite nail and skin-care products, everything about Washington just seems to become instantly classic. 

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