As the face of Neutrogena, Kerry Washington takes makeup seriously, and she wants makeup to take everyone just as seriously back. So the star was happy to work with Neutrogena to develop foundation in 14 shades that work for nearly everyone, including one perfect for herself. And in the process of working on the products, the star became a “nerd” about beauty products. What does that look like on the gorgeous, superfamous star of a hit TV show? We talked to her to find out.
“Inclusivity is a value that is core to my beliefs and a passion of mine,” Washington tells PEOPLE. “So to be able to be hands on making this technology available to everybody and also coming up with lip colors that look good on everybody … There’s no reason why women of all ethnicities should be like ‘Oh, I love this technology but there is no color for me.'”
And though she was delighted by the range she and Neutrogena created, she is partial to one shade in particular. “I’m most happy about my own color because I get to wear it,” she shares about her shade, Cocoa. “I’m really proud of the shade expansion. I think the Chestnut shade is also so beautiful. But I am most proud of the color I get to wear. What was so special to me is that our innovation and our technology is all about looking as good when you take off the makeup off as when you have it on.”
Washington got to explore her inner chemist as well, and even if she won’t be quitting her day job, “It allowed me to be a total brain, a weird brainiac, scientist, and nerd as I’m studying formulations and textures,” she says, adding that the process also enabled her to be “super girly and playful and put all the colors in my hand and pick which red we liked most and which red looked good on all four girls in the room. It was really fun.”
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But as much as the focus of beauty is about putting it on, Washington is passionate about the skin underneath the products that she’s creating.
“At Neutrogena we feel like you should feel beautiful with your make-up on and you should feel beautiful with your makeup off,” she shares. “You should be able to find makeup that is right for you and that helps you heal and that helps you look great day and night, 24/7. I think there is a lot of focus in the beauty industry right now around hiding or camouflaging or changing yourself to try to fit, to conform to somebody else’s idea of beauty.”
Washington’s missive (and one she says she shares with Neutrogena) is “celebrating real beauty, naked beauty, and enhancing that with makeup — but really focusing on feeling good and being healthy inside and out.”
For more on Kerry Washington’s beauty routine, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE!
— Jillian Ruffo, with reporting by Janine Rubenstein