The multi-hyphenate star opens up to People about her long-time collaboration with the beloved drugstore brand, prioritizing self care and teaching her kids self confidence

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Before she headed to her Emmys segment, Kerry Washington packed almonds in her purse “like I do for every awards show.” Relatable? Um, yes. Equally our speed: for more than five years, the Neutrogena brand ambassador has been covering herself from head to toe in its affordable products. Every time we get the chance to interview her, we look forward to chatting about her latest essentials, and taking in her words of wisdom. Ahead Washington lets us in on her current skin favorites, plus the importance of honoring her body.

PEOPLE: What’s on your vanity right now, and why?

Kerry Washington: “I’m not on set for 16 hours a day right now, so I’m using less products and am trying to let my skin breathe. But with the change in season and temperature, I have to really think more consciously about hydration. The [Hydro Boost] Hyaluronic Acid Serum is great, and it combines so well with the [Hydro Boost] Gel-Cream. [For] my eczema, the Hydro Boost Body Overnight Cream is a game changer. I haven’t always been great about moisturizing before bed, but I feel like I’ve been able to do that [during] this time.”

PEOPLE: You’ve worked with Neutrogena for more than six years. What’s your proudest moment with the brand thus far?

Kerry Washington: I’m really proud of the democratization of luxe product. Particularly as a Black woman, I think often about that Audre Lorde quote that – this is paraphrasing – but that for us, self-care is a radical act. It is activism to honor my Black body with love and care. And so I think this idea of providing a prestige quality product at a much more accessible price point and with even more efficacy, based on our commitment to science, that’s something I’m super proud of.”

PEOPLE: What does self-care look like to you these days?

Kerry Washington: “I try to drink a lot of water and eat foods that have high water content. I also try, imperfectly, to spend time every day in prayer and meditation. I feel like that’s really important. Earlier in quarantine, I said to my doctor, “I’m having chest pains, do I have Covid-19?” And my doctor was like, “Covid-19 is not the only thing that could make your chest tight. You could be experiencing anxiety.” So I started to incorporate more breathing into my morning routine [in order to] check in with my lung capacity and encourage more calm.”

PEOPLE: You’ve been vocal about how important it is for people of color to wear sunscreen. What more does the beauty community need to do to get everyone to get this message?

Kerry Washington: “I think it’s in the doing. There’s all this research that we talk about all the time at Neutrogena that [states that] the way to get kids to wear sunscreen is to see their moms wear it. It’s not just saying to your kids, ‘you have to wear sunscreen.’ If I put my sunscreen on first in front of my kids, I get a lot less complaints. And I think that’s true for all of our [other] relationships. If we do it out in the world, we can be carriers of that really important message.”

PEOPLE: How are you teaching your children self-confidence?

Kerry Washington: “I find that the best way for me to do it with real integrity and transparency is to make sure that I am cultivating my own sense of self-love and self-respect and by taking care of myself. That’s sometimes the hard work, but the reality is I have to be taking care of myself, loving myself, honoring myself, in order to embody that idea to my girls and to my son, even he needs to see it too. Nothing is going to teach my kids more about how to love themselves than me loving myself and loving them.”

PEOPLE: You just participated in the Emmys! What did you miss most about getting glam?

Kerry Washington: “I missed my team. I’ve always tried to think of red carpet moments as [us] creating performance art together. For the Emmys, everybody got tested and [wore] masks – and we got to do that again. To be honest, I had a hard time in the week leading up to the Emmy’s because I just kept thinking, ‘are they essential?’ But I was grateful to hear that it did bring joy. And I think maybe what I’m learning in this time is that whatever little things I’m missing from the red carpet – whether it’s taking a little extra time to put my moisturizer on or trying on a new lip color –  I can do it for me, and celebrate myself without the presence of hundreds of photographers and a giant red carpet.”