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Taraji P. Henson Goes Red & Gets Real About The Salon Experience That Left Her Embarrassed AF

Plus 6 celebrities who will inspire you to add a pop of color to your look ASAP.

Celebrity News

Time may have sprung forward last weekend but our good sis Taraji P. Henson hasn't missed a beat. Friday, the Empire actress was spotted at the American Express ExpressThanks Popup Cafe rocking a mane of red tresses that were impossible to miss and now we're ready to add a pop of color to our look ASAP.

The actress first debuted her fire red curls in an Instagram post last month with the hashtag #HairChamelon and recently let Allure in on the secret that keeps her everchanging fro on-go at all times, and according to Taraji, it's all about the product, baby (TPH, to be specific). In an As Told To exclusive, the 49-year-old actress explained that while cosmetology had piqued her interest long before she started in the entertainment industry, it took a while before sew-ins became her style of choice.

"Once I got into the acting business, I started wearing weaves because I wanted to protect my hair. I really didn't like them at first. I'd heard so many horror stories about people losing their edges and the wear and tear [weaves put] on their hair."

Taraji said in an attempt to protect her hair from heat damage, she soon hopped on the bundles bandwagon and gave the style a chance, but before long, she ran into a pretty stinky inconvenience:

"The first time I went to get the weave taken out, it smelled like mildew. I was so embarrassed. I was washing my hair, but what I wasn't doing was drying the weft."

Because Taraji lacked both the products and the know-how to properly care for her style, she was left feeling both embarrassed and ashamed. She explained:

"When you have a weave or an install, your hair is braided down and then sometimes they sew a [hair] net down on top of that and then they sew the hair tracks on top of that. So my dilemma was, how do I get to my scalp? How do I clean it? I didn't ever want that mildew smell again."

It is for this reason that Taraji says her line of Target-exclusive products caters to women whether they're rocking a twist out, silk press, or even a fresh set of Meek Mill braids. The TPH Master Cleanse, for example, comes with braid-friendly prongs that are guaranteed to keep any scalp clean:

"That's what the TPH hair-care line is about. It's about scalp care — and serving looks. TPH was born out of my 'Master Cleanse' hair product I made for myself. For me, hair is nothing if you don't have a clean scalp. It's all I use at home."

One thing's for sure, Taraji is serving us major hair envy with her latest style switch-up, giving us all the inspiration we need to get our look all the way together for spring.

Featured image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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"Mom's Night In"

This post is in partnership with Ulta Beauty.

"I'm a better mother, I'm a better wife, and I'm a better boss, because I take care of myself."

This is just one of the many gems our girl Mattie James dropped in the latest episode of "Beautiful Soul," hosted by xoNecole founder Necole Kane. Mattie is a lifestyle blogger and mother of three who has grown a loyal following from her relatable lifestyle, fashion, and beauty content. This digital maven takes to Instagram each day to lift the veil of her everyday life. We get to see her approach to juggling motherhood with business, daily fashion inspo, and keeping it real about those moments when the juggle gets real. Above all else, Mattie is committed to making self-care a non-negotiable practice in her life,

In this "get un-ready with me" Mattie shows us how she takes off the day. First, she removes her makeup very meticulously with the help us a few oil-eliminating products that she swears by. Then, she gets down and dirty for a deep cleanse, followed by a layering of her favorite serums and moisturizers. Our favorite tip from Mattie? Use your ring finger to apply your eye creams, since it's the lightest finger and the best to use for this delicate area of the skin. Genius!

As Mattie can attest, self-care isn't just about surface-level treats like getting a manicure and soaking in bubble baths. It's about making that "me-tine" a priority and a non-negotiable practice. It's also about setting the right boundaries so that you don't stretch yourself too thin. "Boundaries are like lanes on a highway," she explains. "You have to switch your lanes, but there's shoulders on the road for a reason. You can drive on a shoulder if you want, but it'll cause wear and tear on your car. So you can do things outside your boundaries, but you'll wear yourself out. You have to be honest with yourself."

In the midst of raising three young children, running her personal brand, and maintaining a household, Mattie is diligent about putting self-care dates into her planning just like she would a meeting. That includes therapy appointments, massages, or even quiet time to do absolutely nothing. These are essential wellness tactics that all serve her so that she can better serve others.

Watch as Necole and Mattie get un-ready (and real) in the tutorial above.

Scroll through the gallery below to shop Mattie's nighttime skincare products from Ulta.

Mattie's Skincare Faves

The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser

The Cult Classic Purifying Face Cleanser

A TULA essential, this purifying Gel-Based Cleanser removes dirt, impurities & makeup without stripping or over-drying.

Tula
$28

Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Take Off The Day Cleansing Balm Makeup Remover

Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm is a silky, lightweight makeup remover that quickly dissolves tenacious eye and face makeups, sunscreens.

Clinique
$36

Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & Lips

Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & Lips

Clinique's best-selling makeup remover Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & Lips is a totally tugless formula that whisks away makeup.

Clinique
$21

C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant's C-Tango is a rich and restorative eye cream featuring a brightening combination of eight peptides, five forms of vitamin C, and cucumber extract for firmer, stronger-looking skin around the eye area.

Drunk Elephant
$64

Tonique Confort Rehydrating Comforting Toner With Acacia Honey

Lancôme Tonique Confort Re-Hydrating Comforting Toner with Acacia Honey

Tonique Confort is a soothing, alcohol-free facial toner that improves skin hydration in just 15 minutes and gently cleanses, preps skin and reveals a visible glow.

Lancôme
$35

Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution

Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Anhydrous Solution is a squalane based, non-irritating serum formulated with salicylic acid to effectively decongest the skin and provide surface exfoliation.

The Ordinary
$6.50

Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream

fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream

fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Face Cream recovers & detoxifies while minimizing signs of aging for more rested, youthful-looking skin by morning.

fresh
$54

Pro-Retinol Body Butter

Pro-Retinol Body Butter

Pro-Retinol: now available for your body. Josie Maran's Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter is a lusciously whipped body butter infused with gentle and effective pro-retinol for a smoother, firmer-looking, deeply hydrated body.

Josie Maran
$46

100% Pure Argan Oil

100% Pure Argan Oil
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