Regina King is a shining example of natural Black beauty. Her youthful appearance and spirit as a talented and accomplished actress makes her the poster woman for #blackgirlmagic with flawless skin to match.
In partnership with Equitable Skincare for All campaign, Vaseline collaborated with the One Night In Miami director for a discussion about resources, both lack thereof and access to, for Black communities in healthcare and skincare. We caught up with King who opened up about her definition of beauty, her personal relationship with her skin growing up, and major beauty lessons she has learned throughout the years.
“I think the definition of beauty is subjective. An old but true saying, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” King said in a laid-back chat amid award season. She acknowledged that everyone’s definition of beauty ranges and differs from one person to the next. Though that may be the case, that doesn’t make anyone’s definition of beauty insignificant or inferior to the other. “Beauty is when I’m feeling in a place that I am honestly embracing everything about myself – the flaws and the things that I don’t consider as flaws.”
King has always had a pretty good relationship with her skin and didn’t suffer from any psoriasis, eczema, or common skincare problems during her pubescent years. It wasn’t until her early 30s when she started to suffer from adult acne, which made her self-conscious because she never had to worry about skin care issues as a child.
King would have an occasional pimple here or there when it was her time of the month, but other than that her skincare routines consisted of watching what she eats and limiting her sugar intake. “I stopped drinking soda probably at 13 because that’s when I started getting some acne. That’s when my mother said, ‘You drinking liquid sugar, don’t be surprised,’ and she was right,” the Friday actress remembered. “I stopped drinking soda all the time, it cleared up, and never had any more problems until my early thirties. I could relate to what probably half the high school age kids felt with their skin because acne is a really big deal when you’re in high school.”
Growing up, Vaseline was a staple in her beauty regimen, a beauty secret she had inherited from her grandmother. “To be 100% honest, the softest most beautiful skin I’ve ever seen on a consistent basis was my grandmother’s, and my grandmother always used Vaseline,” she praised. Her grandmother was exposed to harsher weather conditions since she was located in Cincinnati, but the Vaseline protected her skin from dryness.
“By noticing my grandmother’s skin very early on and how soft her skin was, I kind of adopted putting the Vaseline after getting out of the bathtub when I was damp and noticed that it was doing a really good job at fighting ashy,” she said, “Let’s be honest, it’s about vanity at that point. You don’t really understand that you’re supposed to be taking care of your skin. It’s the biggest organ of your body. You don’t look at that.”
And she’s right. As adults, we recognize the importance of skincare in everyday life. “Your skin tells people a lot about you. You see really nice skin and people immediately think, ‘Oh, that person takes care of themselves and they eat well.’ It’s how you present.”
Many Black women have been seen as the face of beauty brands from Zendaya for Lancome to Ryan Destiny for Black Opal, which provides representation for young Black girls to feel seen and beautiful. However, King knows that there’s more work to be done internally and the beauty industry’s conversation about diversity and inclusion is an inside job. When asked why representation as scientists or executives is just as important, she had this to say.
“We’re always not part of the conversation; we’re always the afterthought. While we’re not part of the conversation, we are influencing the culture, meaning fashion and skincare culture,” she said passionately. “Tanning salons and all of that came from people wanting to not look like themselves when they don’t want to be Black, but they want to look Black – or brown, tan, or for some of them, orange. When I say them, some white people, when they accomplish orange, it translates as dark skin.”
She remembers when she used to read books similar to Harlequin romances and the cover of the books would be white couples despite the characters describing their male lovers as dark, tan, olive, or other adjectives used to describe Black men. “We influenced taste and we’ve gone from what people think of thin, skinny or whatever was beautiful at one time to now slim thick. People are spending money to look more like how a lot of Black women are built.”
King continued, “Then you have Black women like myself who aren’t naturally slim thick, just slim and changing their bodies to look not how God bless them. All of that to say that if we are involved in the conversations and in the development of the technology on the front end, the narrative could possibly be different.”
Over the years, we’ve seen Regina King in a variety of roles from A Thin Line Between Love and Hate to If Beale Street Could Talk but every cinematic queen needs a break from her empire. Her self-care routine and ability to implement self-love have grown alongside her acting chops over the years. “I just feel like I’ve matured, I’ve been more aware of the fact that comparing myself to someone else is dangerous. If I don’t embrace who I am and how I was made, then how can I expect someone else to truly embrace the truth?” she asked hypothetically. Admittedly, King has been living in this mental space for over the past 20 years, especially after becoming a mother.
“I like who I am. No one spends more time with me than me. The more honest I can be with myself, the more enjoyable that time is. That’s where I am.”