Jan 08, 2024

Tia Mowry’s 9 skin and hair care essentials

Tia Mowry can trace her feelings back to "Sister, Sister." Just a teen during her five-year run on the hit WB sitcom (along with her twin, Tamera), she constantly felt self-conscious about her naturally curly hair. "I was so insecure about it because I wasn't seeing myself represented in any beauty magazines," she says. "It was like only European standards were celebrated."

Mowry started straightening her hair. She put in extensions too. "I wanted to seem quote-unquote sexy and cool," she adds. "But I didn't love it." Soon, she realized she wasn't alone in her frustrations: "I’ve learned that a lot of Black women have felt the same way. We want to be seen and heard and valued and understood and felt."

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Now Mowry can proudly say she's made a difference in all of the above. Her natural hair care product line, 4U by Tia, specially targets women of color with an array of products made from clean and sustainable ingredients such as aloe vera, acai, apple cider vinegar and flaxseed. "This is my way of giving back to the community," Mowry says. "Everybody deserves to have the opportunity and the right to experience high-performing quality ingredients and products at a price point that's not going to break the bank."

A diligent hair routine isn't the only way the 4U by Tia founder and creative director practices daily self-care. The mother of two also adheres to specific beauty rituals, journals and meditates. "Ever since I hit my 40s, I’ve started to prioritize working inward so I can feel and look good," she says. Ahead, Mowry details her hair and skin care secrets for CNN Underscored.

Mowry's hair care routine starts with a pre-wash treatment that helps soothe and repair the scalp, thanks to ingredients like eucalyptus oil, kale extract, bamboo charcoal and Kombucha tea. (Custom-made formulas are also available.) "It's really fantastic because it acts as an exfoliant," she shares.

Mowry washes her hair every few days using her line's signature sulfate- and silicone-free shampoo. "It cleans your hair without stripping the moisture — and with curly hair, it's all about moisture!" she explains. She also raves of the "really good" smell — warm amber grounded by vanilla with touches of orchid, plum and rose, to be exact — and its thick lather. As she puts it, "I really need to see suds for me to feel like my hair is clean."

Related: The 14 best dandruff shampoos for relieving a dry, itchy scalp

Why does Mowry love her curl cream? Let her count the ways: "Number one, it adds moisture without weighing down the curls. I need my curls to be free! And it's very light. It also leaves my hair nice and soft." The secret ingredient, she adds, is Hemi15 — a sulfate alternative that deeply nourishes hair from root to tip after just one use.

To maintain those textured curls (especially during the dreaded summer frizz season), Mowry attaches a long-pronged diffuser nozzle to her Dyson dryer. "It's the diffuser of the future!" she jokes. Specifically, "I love that [it] gives you a lot of options in regards to the amount of heat that I want to use. It also doesn't blow out too much air. When you’re working with curls, you want that nice humming sound, not a loud vroom!"

Related: The 20 best air-dry creams for frizz-free hair, according to experts

Not to shade the competitors, but "a lot of sunscreens leave my skin with a white residue," she says. "It's embarrassing!" Mowry loves this face and body lotion because it goes on clear. "It gives you the amount of sun protection you need, but it blends in nicely," she adds. She also keeps the BGS Kids SPF 50 bottle on hand for her son and daughter.

Related: We spoke with the founder of Black Girl Sunscreen

Mowry uses several products from the esthetician's brand, but she singles out the rich cleanser that removes skin impurities and soothes irritation without harsh chemicals. When she applies it to her face in the morning, "it feels like a nice, light wash that doesn't strip my skin of its natural oils," she explains. "It just works."

Related: Celebrity facialist Shani Darden shares her 7 favorite skin care products

"It makes your skin glisten," she says of this nutrient-rich elixir that helps soften fine lines, enhances the appearance of firmness and restores moisture. Plus, Mowry exclaims, "Every single time I put this on, somebody is like, ‘Oh my god, you smell so good!’" (Credit the kaya, cacay and Brazil nut oils and bacuri butter.) At night, she applies the brand's LUA Moonlight oil, which brightens and balances the skin with magnesium, selenium and vitamins A, C and E.

Related: The 26 best body lotions for healthy and hydrated skin

At 44, Mowry shares that "I’m getting older and definitely focused on anti-aging." That's why she follows a strict nighttime skin care regimen. Step one: this nutrient and vitamin-enhanced serum. "It really evens out the skin," she says. The La Prairie Luxe Skin Caviar Luxe Cream lifts and firms via a luxurious formula that includes, yes, natural caviar extract. She tops it off with the Shani Darden Retinol Reform Treatment Serum, which reduces the look of fine lines and wrinkles while brightening the skin.

Related: The 15 best hydrating serums for dry skin, according to derms

Because lotions and serums and treatments can only go so far. "The one thing that people tend to overlook when talking about beauty and skin is that you also have to pay attention to mental health," she says. "All the stressors in your life can really affect you physically." For a relaxing balm, Mowry listens to the Calm app — and gushes about the content from psychologist Julie Smith. "I have a pen and paper on hand because she really helps break down my thoughts," she says. "It's transformative."

Related: We tried the meditation app Headspace, and this is what we thought

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