Keke Palmer isn’t your average celebrity. For one, she’s been working in the business — and garnering plenty of acclaim for her acting talents — since she was nine. Then there’s her commitment to just being herself: She speaks her mind proudly and often and has a refreshing willingness to be transparent with fans about personal aspects of her life, often in hopes of helping others.
A few months ago, Palmer shared on Instagram that she’s struggled with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and that among many other symptoms, the “least harmful thing PCOS can bring is acne.” Posting an unfiltered, makeup-free selfie displaying spotting and scarring from breakouts, she wrote: “I’m not afraid to show myself to the world and you shouldn’t be either.”
Palmer was first tapped as the face of Olay Body back in February of 2020, and her consistent commitment to exploring the skin-care products and self-care routines that work for her have made her a natural choice for the brand. Especially in a time when filters and fillers reign supreme in the world of celebrity beauty, her transparency about her own beauty struggles and triumphs feels important.
In anticipation of the Olay’s introduction of new body-care products for 2021, Palmer took some time to discuss her approach to beauty with Fashionista, delving into the relationship between health and skin, how PCOS and the pandemic have shifted her self-care routines and the message she hopes to spread through her role as the face of a mass beauty brand. Read on for the highlights of our conversation.
How has your self-care routine evolved in the past year during the pandemic?
It’s gone even harder. I thought I cared about myself before, but I’ve really shown myself a lot of self-care now and am really just kind of going ham when it comes to my health. And especially since I discovered I have PCOS, it’s really manifested itself into a very active life in terms of exercise and cooking and really creating a diet that’s specific to me. I’m very happy now to have found a whole community [surrounding PCOS] to relate to.
Do you feel, as a celebrity, that you have a certain responsibility to be honest about what you’re going through with your skin and to be transparent about what products you’re really using?
I don’t know if I think it’s a responsibility per se, I think it just happens to be who I am. I just happen to be that kind of person. I want to feel like I’m sharing and giving people access to something. So even if I wasn’t ‘Keke Palmer,’ I’m sure I would be doing something along those lines — maybe working at a youth center or whatever, because that’s how my parents raised me. So it’s just like giving and sharing knowledge, whatever you can, when you can, that’s just how my family is really.
What about Olay specifically appealed to you and made you want to partner with the brand?
I’ve been using the brand all my life. Olay has been around since the beginning of my existence. They’re a household name. They’ve just always been such a household staple. And I love that with the new body wash line, they’re trying to introduce the concept that you need to be kind and gentle and nurturing to the skin on your body just as much as the skin on your face.
Is there any message that you’re hoping to communicate through your partnership with Olay or anything you hope your fans take from seeing you in this role?
Yeah — that they see beauty in every way. I’m not specifically the exact kind of person that’s always the face of a brand. It’s very rare that you see a brown-skinned Black American girl in this way. So I think that Olay choosing me as the face of their brand says a lot about what they think about beauty, and all the different beauties they want to acknowledge and that they want to be a part of their brand. I think that’s really important, and a lot of other brands should take note. There are a lot of different beauties that exist in this world that deserve attention and that are buying your product, so you should acknowledge them.
What is something that fans ask you about the most about your beauty routine?
Recently they’re most curious how I can cover up my dark spots. I think that’s the biggest thing that people are most impressed by when they get a really good look at what kind of skin troubles I have. I’m still in the process of figuring out how to keep my PCOS under control, so I haven’t been using crazy products as much as I have been dieting and seeing how that affects my skin. I’ll have more information to give them once I really start getting to the place where I can get my condition under control. But until then I’ve got tons and tons of makeup advice.
What is your number-one beauty tip?
That sometimes less is more. And I’m not just talking about makeup or stuff like that, because obviously coverage is a real thing. But what I really mean is when it comes to products sometimes you have to simplify. [My beauty routine is] really like maybe three things max, four including your SPF. Sometimes it’s just like, less is more.
This interview has been edited for clarity.