Once silver screens and TVs fade, Hollywood actress Taraji P. Henson still stands glowing in the spotlight as Jergens‘ newly minted spokeswoman for their skin-moisturizing Shea Butter collection. In conjunction with the beauty care titan’s Celebrating Women campaign, the Person of Interest star brings awareness to West African traditions of whipping up the radiance-boosting concoction, a creation Ghanian women have dubbed “women’s gold.”
“It’s a ritual,” Taraji says of the process. “They wake up in the morning, pick the nuts and dance. This is something that they pass down to all the generations and it’s beautiful.”
Vixen caught up with the cocoa-skinned lady who has ancestral ties to the land flowing with beauty goods to talk her specific connection to the Shea Butter partnership, her personal beauty rituals and the wildest thing you’d find in her bag at this very moment.—Niki McGloster
VIBE Vixen: Your family roots trace back to Ghana, so there’s an emotional sentiment attached to this product but what other reasons did you choose this particular partnership?
Taraji P. Henson: It’s very important to me because I find when big companies go into Africa, they take. It’s beautiful that Jergens has partnered with the Global Shea Alliance and pledged a donation to help the women that make shea butter become more economically independent. They’re not just taking from them, they’re giving back. They’re building more warehouses for them to store more nuts and make more money for them to provide for their families. When you watch the video, you’ll see the story behind what these women do.
Do you have plans of experiencing the entire process?
Yes, eventually one day.
What are some of the beauty rituals that have been passed down in your family?
They always told me to moisturize. I don’t leave the house without lotion. You know how some people will say, ‘I didn’t put lotion on.’ I’m like, how could you put your clothes on? You’re dry and itchy! I found this product I can use and I don’t have to mix anything with it. I just pump it out of the bottle, put it on and I stay moisturized all day.
I can co-sign that. The deep-conditioning butter has been so clutch.
That’s the one that’s more concentrated. I’m probably going to start switching to that because its getting dryer outside. Right after the shower, I put it on even when I’m still a little damp because it works. See, shea butter is different [from cocoa butter] because it’s thicker, richer. It works with the temperature of your skin and seeps down into your pores. You know you’re shedding skin every day, but this dodges that layer of skin coming off. I don’t know it’s weird because literally when I take my clothes off at night to go to bed, I still feel moisturized. Oh, and I always use it for my feet at night and put socks on.
My grandmother always told me to do that!
That’s another secret passed down.
Is this line solely targeting African American women?
This line is targeting all women because shea butter is a beauty secret they’ve had for centuries, and, thank God, Jergens is bold enough to finally bring this secret to women all over the globe with this new shea butter product. And it’s different from any other shea butter because they just went to Africa and took it. We’re actually helping the women who are responsible for this beauty secret.
Now what do you say to the women who love their cherry almond Jergens? How do you get them to convert?
Mix it! [Laughs] Some women don’t need as much moisture, but mix it. I’m a scientist.
What are some of your earliest memories of Jergens?
That original scent. My grandmother kept it on her dresser because she’s old school. She would wake up at the crack of dawn and cook my grandfather’s meals, so her hands were constantly in water. I just have visions of her going to her Jergens and [pumping it into her hands] all day, keeping her hands moisturized. So it’s always just been Jergens, and it’s crazy that I have partnered with them. It’s like my life has come full-circle.
That’s always how the universe works. What do you feel makes a woman radiant and beautiful?
When a woman feels confident about how she looks. I think that helps with her radiance, because when you feel good, you look good and that feeling good comes from within. I can be going nowhere but something about when I put the Jergens Shea Butter and my robe on, it’s like woo! It’s the little things in life.
Switching gears, what’s in your bag right now?
I’m going to share this secret: I carry this spray called Poo-Pourri. One spray before you go and no one else will ever know. [Laughs] You know, sometimes you eat something and you gotta keep it cute. I hate when I walk in the bathroom and [it stinks], so I give Poo-Pourri away as gifts.
I’m seriously going on the hunt for this spray. Women need it!
Please get it, and they have it in cute little silver cases inside a little satchel. I keep it in all my bathrooms at my house because there’s no need for my bathroom to smell like that. It works better than Febreze and it works better than Lysol.
So, what do you want to see as a result of this campaign?
I just want to share the knowledge of what Jergens is doing with the women in West Africa, and celebrate their love and hard work for what they do.