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Keke Palmer Opens Up About Her Lifelong Struggle With Acne

Plus, the multihyphenate drops her favorite beauty products of all time.

Keke Palmer

The young girl that we once knew from Akeelah and the Bee has now made a full transition into the Queen and we are here for all of it. Keke Palmer has been making her mark in the industry for more than a decade, and her new position as a permanent anchor on the Sara, Strahan and Keke Show is proof that she hasn't had to secure the bag because she is the bag.

Keke, who plays Mercedes in the new film Hustlers told Refinery29 that even though she's learning to navigate the industry as the boss ass businesswoman that she is, people still can't help but see her as a kid:

"I've become used to the pressures that come with being a child star. Now, I just think of everyone as a family member. You can go off to college, be pregnant and married, and be grown as hell, but everyone will always think of you as 'little Tee-Tee.'"

According to Keke, the stress that comes with being a child-star turned-industry giant has had so much of an effect on her internally, that the turmoil she felt eventually began to manifest externally. She explained:

"There has always been pressure to look perfect at all times. Those pressures were causing me anxiety because I used to struggle with my skin. I was so held down by what other people thought about me. As I've gotten older, I've grown to care less."

Along with managing stress, Keke says that over the years, she's also had to work with dermatologist to keep her sebum-related severities under control.

"When I was younger, I worked with dermatologists for my acne, and a lot of their solutions involved harsh medication."

As she got older, the now 26-year-old actress says that she's ditched the pharmaceuticals and tried a less aggressive approach to skincare. Along with streaming her face and putting a good charcoal mask to use every now and then, Keke says she also regularly consults with an esthetician:

"I didn't want to take that route as an adult, so I go to estheticians and facialists to help keep my skin clear. I try to get a facial once every two weeks, which can be expensive. When I can't get one in, I do a charcoal mask and steam my face at home."

While Keke may have allowed her anxiety to block her glow up before, the actress says that now, she's comfortable in her own skin, keeping in mind that the first step to the ultimate level-up starts with self-love.

"Now, I do whatever it takes to make myself feel better, whether that means not wearing any makeup, not hiding my acne scars, or changing my hair. Realizing that I have power over myself and my confidence felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders."

When asked what's next in the young starlet's life, she gave us this piece of advice:

"Listen, life is all about the glow up right now. My ethos going into a new year of life is to keep growing no matter how fast or slow the next season might be. Life isn't a sprint; it's a marathon."

Along with giving us some wise words to live by, Keke also gave up the details on some of her favorite products that she uses to get get her skin all the way together, from head-to-toe:

To read the full interview with Refinery29 click here!

Featured image by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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