Viola Davis Finesses Her Lashes With a $9 Mascara
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Viola Davis is a lash girl. And we're not talking about soft, fluttery lashes that shyly tremble when you bat your eyes. Davis is all about a bold, thick, lash — one that lets its presence be known. "I go to town on my lashes," Davis says, over the phone. I am on my couch in the corner of my just-moved-in apartment that's been set up for actual living. She, as I find out, is sitting in a room surrounded by her beauty products.
Just call it the ways of a good brand ambassador. Davis is one of the celebrity faces for L'Oréal Paris and is gearing up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its fan-favorite Voluminous Original Mascara. It's one that Davis uses when she's doing her makeup herself. "I've gotten very good with my makeup, which, let me tell you something, is a revelation," she says. "I was not good with makeup when I was younger."
The actor prefers a maximalist approach when she's applying her mascara. "To lengthen them, I [swipe some on], look in the mirror, do it again, look back in the mirror. Then I do my bottom lashes going over and over until they are just big," says Davis. "I feel like I almost have strip lashes on. I like bold eyes because I notice people's eyes. They say the eyes of the window into your soul."\
L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Original Mascara
Not bad for a mascara that will cost you all of $9. But I shouldn't be surprised. L'Oréal Paris's Voluminous Mascara has been giving grown women those serious, I'm-a-lady-about-her-business lashes at a time when I was just starting to explore my mother's makeup bag. It's no wonder it's been going strong for 30 years. And at such a milestone anniversary, it's only right to reflect. When I speak to Davis, we speak on how she's grown into herself, how she's come to appreciate what's in the mirror, and how her sense of self-worth has evolved over time.
ALLURE: Let's talk a little bit about how your confidence in how you look has evolved as you grew older. What was that journey like?
Viola Davis: Since I've experienced more success in my career, I've had to look at myself more. When I started doing Doubt, Autumn [Moultrie] was doing my makeup, and I would look at pictures and I would go, "Wow. Okay. I look pretty good!" That gave me some comfort, confidence, and made me feel affirmed.
I think that as you get older, you just get more confident in yourself. I don't know one woman who won't look at a picture of themselves when they were younger and go, "Man, I looked really good. Why didn't I think that at the time?" That really has been a lot of what's happened — I'm looking at the younger Viola, from the older Viola's perspective and wisdom.
ALLURE: What are some beauty rituals that you've clung to during the pandemic?
VD: Giving myself facials because I can't go to a spa now. I love spas. I do. I've done the whole thing — even splashing cold, cold water on my skin after I cleanse it. I also include my daughter. I'll say, "Genesis, let mommy give you a spa treatment tonight." I'll dim the lights in her bathroom. I'll put a snack that's probably too decadent up there for her. Something like Takis or chips, I put it in a nice little bowl.
I'll have these little affirmations that I put around her tub that say, "I am abundant, I am unique." I'll draw an affirmation saying, "Mommy loves you" and draw a little picture. I turn on her diffuser and I put bubble bath in her tub. It creates a whole spa experience for her.
ALLURE: This sounds lovely.
VD: I [got the idea to do it from] an article — I literally looked it up — "How to Survive a Pandemic With a 10-Year-Old." That's one of the things that came up and I said, "Oh, I'm going to do that." Sometimes my daughter is like, "I love this, Mommy," And other times she's like, "I don't want to do that. I'm taking a shower." But I do that whole ritual for myself, too. It's all about finding your joy.
ALLURE: Which products are you using on spa day?
VD: Let me tell you something: I'm a product [fanatic]. I'm not necessarily into clothes and the only shoes I love are my sneakers, of course, but [I love beauty products]. I have my acids, my peel pads. I use those, and then I have my essential oils. After I shower, I slather on lemongrass, lavender, or frankincense essential oils. I love perfume. I love my Hermès perfume. I love my Creed perfume — I spray that on even at night, 'cause it makes me feel pretty.
ALLURE: You know, I've been taking to wearing perfume to bed lately, too. It's nice, especially after a shower.
VD: I love it. And I love that my husband wants to smell me, and hugs me. My husband's love and makes me feel pretty. When I say feel pretty, it just brings me a sense of comfort and joy.
ALLURE: Let's talk about hair care.
VD: I leave my hair alone a lot. Right now it's braided up, but I have to be honest, I really leave my hair alone. Sometimes too alone, you know? My husband sometimes is like, "V, OK, you got to do something with your hair."
My hairstylist, Jamika Wilson, will braid it up or twist it. Sometimes I twist it, too, but still [end up leaving it alone]. What I find with natural hair, is it just needs moisture. I use the moisturizer I get for my daughter's hair — a six-in-one product I get from a beauty supply store. And then I use Tamar Braxton's OMG You Grow Girl pomade that you use on your scalp and your edges. It works great.
OMG You Grow Girl Grow & Glow Organic Hair Butter
TPH by Taraji Master Cleanse
If there's been any aha! moment with my hair, it's taking care of my scalp. I have a tendency, especially when I get nervous, to touch my hair, especially my scalp. Taraji P. Henson's got a scalp treatment (The Master Cleanse) and it has [a three-pronged applicator] It is unbelievable. It really massages your scalp and brings it alive. I didn't realize that I wasn't really taking care of my scalp until I started using that. That's been a game-changer.
ALLURE: How has your perception of your self-worth evolved over the years?
VD: I grew up in such a desperate situation that all I felt when I was younger was shame. All I did was live in secrets. That's all that happened because I felt because I did not have all of the societal trappings of worth, that I wasn't worthy. We didn't grow up with any money. I didn't feel pretty. We didn't grow up in a nice house or a nice apartment.
As I got older, I felt that my life was all about attaining the toys. What's the famous saying from the '80s, that was on everyone's bumper sticker? "He who dies with the most toys wins." It's sort of an existential statement. It's meant to sound absurd, that I felt that there was something I needed to attain and achieve in order to have value.
Renée Brown says this a lot, "You do not have to barter for your worth." There is nothing that you have to exchange for your worth, you are imperfect and wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. Now, when I walk into a room, when I say that mantra to myself, "Viola, you're already worthy," then I can speak my truth. I can show up for myself and be seen. There's a levity to my life in knowing that. That I came out of my mom's womb worthy. That has been a radical shift for me.
It's a huge reason why L'Oréal, for me, is a perfect beauty brand because their mantra is "You're worth it." Whatever age you are, whatever color you are, just know you're also worth it, and so am I. That has been an elixir for me, a magical potion.
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