Beauty Around the Clock: Taraji P. Henson

The BODY by TPH founder on her beauty holy grails, signature look, and why not taking calls on Sundays is essential to her self-care routine.

Beauty Around the Clock Taraji P. Henson
(Image credit: Future)

Welcome to Beauty Around the Clock, Marie Claire's weekly peek into the daily routines of some of the most game-changing women in their industries. Ever wonder how they get it all done in a day? Here's your answer.

Taraji P. Henson is acutely aware of her strengths: a leading actress, an advocate for mental health, an entertainment executive, a singer. The list goes on. You can't mention Henson without thinking of her stunning performance as Cookie Lyon in Empire; if you’re a millennial, her comedic timing and authenticity of her character Yvette in Baby Boy are forever imprinted in your mind. But everything she attaches to her name to turns to gold, which is the primary reason she feels so blessed.

In addition to acting, the 51-year-old also has a deep love for all things beauty. In fact, she launched a haircare line TPH by Taraji (in January 2020) and recently introduced Body by TPH, a scalp-centered line promoting optimal skin health for all bodies, skin tones, and skin types. 

She’s also laser focused on sharing things that bring her peace. “I’m transforming my bathroom into the ultimate self-care sanctuary,” the Minons: The Rise of Gru star tells Marie Claire. “This whole process is what inspired BODY by TPH, and I wanted to give others the same [sense of peace] with products that have spa-like textures and scents.” 

Below, Henson reveals her go-to products, favorite workouts, and why she refuses to take calls or respond to texts on Sundays.

Rise and Shine

I try to start my day with a meditation to set my mind right, so I feel good from the inside out. I always light my It’s Lit In The AM candle and take a moment to center and tell myself, “Today is going to be a great day.” Next, I’ll cleanse and prep my skin depending on the day. That may include an invigorating full body wash with Good Daze or an extra dose of skin conditioning with The Ish Condish. If I need makeup, I’ll do a quick face—but I’m generally very low maintenance! 

Morning Maintenance

To cleanse my face, I keep it very simple with the Deep Pore Charcoal Face Wash by Biore. Paul Scerri Ph Balancing Cream is my holy grail—I have been using that for decades. When I travel, I’ll mix it with two drops of Bio Oil, to keep my skin ultra-hydrated on a long flight.

Power Start

I’ll have a bowl of cereal with a splash of homemade almond milk and fresh fruit. If I feel like having something salty, I’ll make a boiled egg and eat that with some fermented vegetables. I try to maintain a mostly plant-based diet and pay attention to my gut health, but I do believe in moderation!

Signature Look

I love a good face beat, but my signature look is all about less is more. Fresh skin, a defined brow, and some lashes—a little makeup goes a long way, and don’t forget to blend, blend, blend! I learned how to highlight and contour in a makeup class when I attended Howard University to study theater. Once you get that down, you’re set! For fun, I’ll add a pop of color to my eyes or lips.

I also love all things Rihanna and Fenty Beauty. The Killawatt highlighter is everything. I’ll even take the Stunna lip paint and use that on my eyelids or cheeks for an extra pop of color.

Because I’m known for my expressive eyebrows, and I only trust Damone Roberts to keep them in line. When I can’t see Damone, I use an angled eyebrow brush with a spoolie and a bit of eyebrow pencil to perk them up.

Daily Playlist

My taste in music varies. I love discovering new artists and I gravitate to “feel good” music. My current rotation is a blend of classic hip-hop like Mary J. Blige and newer tracks from SZA. 

Fitness Fix

I work with a trainer, and we focus on building stamina and strength training. I’ll do a warm-up walk on the treadmill, followed by weights, and a cardio and abs workout. I also started using this boxing machine called the Nexerys, which I love. I always make sure to get in some glute work, too. I like squats, lunges, anything that helps lift, tone, and tighten it up. 

Self-Care Ritual

For me, much of my self-care starts in the bathroom and Sunday is my self-care day—it’s my wash day and my me day. I don’t take calls or texts on Sunday. 

I firmly believe in practicing the act of self-care anytime, anywhere. My rituals range in simplicity: from enjoying a cup of tea and a few minutes of solitude to creating a full at-home spa moment on a Sunday to pamper myself from scalp to toe. 

I learned how to do my own nails and even taught myself how to make wigs during the lockdown and I love playing around in my home salon.

Hair Help

I am a total #HairChameleon—if I don’t switch it up, I get bored! I love trying new styles, colors, products, all of it. My all-time favorite trend is healthy hair. 

Learn to properly care for your scalp, and your hair will love you for it. The style I’m currently into is a sleek, long bob…but ask me again tomorrow and that may change. 

Signature Scent

I tend to switch up or layer my scents depending on my mood. When we were testing scents for Body By TPH, it was really important to me that we use scent as a tool for self-care as part of the bathing ritual because I believe in the power of aromatherapy. I love that different scents can instantly enhance the mood or evoke a specific memory and that is why in Body by TPH there are notes of citrus and ginger to invigorate the senses and notes of palo santo to help soothe and calm. 

Beauty Icon

My mother. She always looked so polished and put together, and I loved watching her get ready when I was young. She taught me about haircare and introduced me to wash days. I used to “borrow” her makeup and try out these wild looks and she always put up with my experimental beauty phases. 

Backup Career

If I wasn’t acting, I would definitely be in the beauty world. While studying at Howard University, I would create makeup looks in the dorm room and I wanted to go to cosmetology school, but I missed the deadline. 

I would also be an advocate for mental health, an entertainment executive, a singer. Oh wait, I am all those things! But in all seriousness, my career has led to some incredible opportunities, and I feel blessed to live out my dreams. It’s incredibly rewarding to find your lane.

P.M. Routine

I always take off my makeup, cleanse, and moisturize before bed. I also like to brew loose-leaf tea and light a candle. By the time it steeps I’m ready to wind down, and I’ll sip it to help me fall asleep. I try to get plenty of sleep—it’s so important for your wellbeing. 

Shop Taraji's Favorite Products:

Deena Campbell
Beauty Director

Deena Campbell is the Beauty Director of Marie Claire where she oversees beauty and health content on all platforms. Deena joined Marie Claire after a decade-long career as an editor in print and digital media. Before joining the brand, she managed editorial content for L’Oréal owned and In 2015, she launched’s hair channel where she received Time Inc.'s Henry R. Luce Award, shortly before joining’s staff as Senior Beauty Editor. Along with her editorial positions, she also consulted on content and marketing strategies for beauty companies including DevaCurl and Dove, and has appeared at various speaking events and live television segments.