Healthy hair is beautiful hair. And for Black women, wash day is often a sacred act of self-care, since our kinks, coils, and curls require a little more TLC. In our series Wash Day Diaries, we’re asking influential women to break down exactly what goes into their routines so you can copy their tips, tricks, and products that work for your texture and style.
While hair care has morphed into a form of self-care for many—especially during the pandemic—for Black women, the two haven’t always gone hand in hand. Historically, we’ve had incredible strain placed upon our hair to look and behave a certain way. And no one understands that more than Taraji P. Henson.
“I don’t want women with natural hair to think their hair is a chore. It should be self-care,” she tells Glamour. “We have special hair. It’s beautiful. It’s delicate. I know people think it’s strong because it’s thick, but we have very delicate hair that requires us to put it away. That’s why we’ve been wearing protective styles since we’ve been on this earth.”
But with the shortcomings of mainstream hair brands, Henson found she didn’t always have the tools to give her curls the care they needed. So she took it upon herself to cook up her own 18-piece hair line called TPH by Taraji. “I know what works on my hair and what to stay away from,” she says, noting it’s taken a heavy amount of trial and error as well as a lot of dedication and attention.
Now, one year into being a business owner, Henson has turned that attention to her customers. The resounding feedback she got: Create more deep conditioning products that provide extra hydration. Henson went to work, and this week she’s introducing her new TPH Intense Moisture + Care line: Mask On (a moisturizing conditioning mask), Curls 4 Days (an intense moisture-rich curl creme), Twist & Set (a moisture-rich twisting cream), and Keep Shining (a lightweight dry oil mist).
And in a time when other Black celebrities are dabbling in the hair industry—like with Tracee Ellis Ross’s Pattern and Gabrielle Union’s Flawless—Henson’s unique position is at the essence of scalp care. Her formulas are a game changer for those, like her, who often wear protective styles such as wigs, braids, and weaves. But the real value comes in the therapeutic touch. Infused with aromatherapy ingredients ranging from lemongrass to sage extract, the entire line is an endeavor to redefine how Black women look at self-hair-care.
“I’ve always been a hair chameleon,” Taraji P. Henson says. “I grew up changing my hair and the color every other week. That’s my shit—my personality.” So here’s to all the Black women rocking braids, Bantu knots, body waves, Senegalese twists, Afros, sleek bobs, blowouts, and everything else that helps to showcase our dopeness and beauty. In a testament to how effective her products are, the hair chameleon herself gave Glamour a step-by-step of her wash-day routine. Read on.
Pre-poo scalp prep
I usually start by saturating my hair, get it real wet, and then I’ll towel-dry, but making sure it remains damp. And then I’ll section it off and apply my Never Salty to the scalp and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes to get a good activation. It feels like a peppermint patty with a cooling sensation. Then I wash that out and go back in with the Master Cleanse on my scalp. Again this is still the scalp treatment—I haven’t even gotten to washing my hair yet. By this time I feel the tingling refreshing feel. And once my scalp is feeling squeaky clean, I go back in with my Mint Condition to add back moisture and finish with that.
After all that’s done, it’s time to start washing my hair. Sometimes I’ll switch it up by following the Master Cleanse with one of my shampoos, whether it’s the Serene Queen or Honey Fresh, for extra moisture and hydration—and then go in with my Mint Condition for my scalp. Then I wash that out, and then we’re ready for conditioning.
I’ll go in with the creamy Make It Rain for conditioning, which I can quickly rinse out after detangling or leave longer for deeper hydration. For detangling I also have to have my Felicia Leatherwood brush. If I can’t find it, I will run around the house with soap in my eyes looking for it. And there are times—like every two weeks, depending on how my hair feels—I’ll give myself a mask. I like to wash day into a spa day with Mask On.
And some days my wash takes two days. I’ll sleep in After Dark for extra moisture because I give my hair that kind of attention.
Ruhama Wolle is an associate editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @ru_wolle. This interview has been edited and condensed.