Taraji P Henson spends her days playing the always fashionable—and very fierce—Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire. But, she says the makeup Cookie wears is not her personal go-to. “I have always been less is more with makeup…I’ll put on a little bronzer, put on mascara,” the actress told Lookbook via phone.
Taraji launched a limited edition, six-piece collection with MAC Cosmetics on September 6th. The sultry, bronzy collection comes complete with a lipstick in Strip Me Down (a matte, deep-tone beige), Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Taraji Glow (a reddish-brown, slow-baked powder), Mineralize Skinfinish Highlight in The Truth (the shade is soft bronze coral with a golden shimmer), Haute & Naughy Too Black Lash Mascara, Penultimate Eyeliner in Rapidblack, and the 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush.
Within the collection Taraji says her favorite piece is the Penultimate Eyeliner, which she uses to apply a cat-eye flick. It was important for the liner to be liquid, she explains, because gel liner in a pot is too messy to use. Taraji wanted the collection to be accessible for the regular gal: “easy to wear, on the go," she says. "No one wants to take a big bag of makeup with them.”
Taraji is known for her seriously flawless, glowing skin. Along with her secret weapon, The Truth highlighter from her new collection, she says her glow is all down to drinking lots of water, eating a healthy diet of mostly vegetables and occasionally fish, and working out. She also credits her gorgeous skin to getting as much sleep as she can and keeping her skin hydrated while traveling. “When I fly I use Paul Scerri pH moisturizer with two drops of bio-oil in…you’ll look greasy but after a while it sinks in.” Bnd, she warns, “don’t do it every night or it will clog pores!”
Taraji first got into makeup by watching her mom, “She won’t leave the house without makeup, still now won’t leave the house without mascara and a lip on” she said. Taraji has also learned a lot from her makeup artist on Empire, who taught her how to apply an ombre lip, and how to mix products. Oftentimes, she says, her makeup artist will use four different products to get the Cookie lip just right.
As for fragrance, Taraji gravitates toward Versace Noir; she also likes floral fragrances like Gucci and Le Labo. She also uses perfume to get into character on the Empire set. She used to wear a Juliette Has a Gun fragrance with a “sharper scent.” Now that Cookie is more refined and in public, she’s wearing the softer Chanel Coromandel fragrance, which Taraji picked up from the original Chanel store in Paris.
Though her scent may have changed, Cookie is fashion-forward as always for season three of Empire. Taraji shared that she's always working with Empire costume designer Paolo Nieddu to come up with new ways for Cookie to look fresh, taking fashion inspiration from celebrities like Rihanna. The tough part of keeping so up-to-date with new looks, she says, is that celebs will wear something and make it popular before the episodes air. But in reality, “we did it first!," Taraji says. "Cookie wore it first.” Off set, the actress prefers to dress a little more casually than Cookie—her closet is full of sundresses. Taraji also just put her leopard prints in storage. With fall fashion at the top of everyone's minds, Taraji remembers her favorite back-to-school look: “penny loafers, with the penny in.”
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