“When I was about 14, my mom put me into one of those modeling and acting programs. They had a competition that took me to LA, where I found my agent. The agent told me that if I were serious about acting, then I would have to move there during pilot season. So that’s what I did—I moved, and I lived with my godfather. My first job was Summerland. It was on the WB at the time, and I booked it pretty quickly after moving. That experience was unique because I was young, and yet I was homeschooling myself, so I didn’t really have friends. It wasn't the most practical life... But soon enough, I started going back and forth between Georgia and LA because my mom wanted me to come home and live a more regular life.
I’ve been enjoying the ride for the past couple of years. From being on Dear White People and experiencing what it’s like to be a part of a platform, to discovering my own voice and using it to embolden other people. My latest project is The Perfection on Netflix, and it stars myself and Allison Williams. Through all of these opportunities, I’ve learned about making mistakes in the public eye—whether other people see them or not—without feeling like I’m ever lacking [because of those mistakes]. Who wants to be perfect anyway? It’s been a revelation for me.
"The double-edged sword is when I think, ‘Wait, are you seeing me, or are you just seeing my hair?’"
I grew up getting relaxers, and I loved them—I loved my hair straight. But when I went to college I just got lazy, and cheap, so I stopped doing them. After college, when I got back into the business, I started to realize that hair stylists were using a lot of heat tools on me. The curl pattern that I was trying to save was being destroyed, and that’s when I made a choice to be natural, and to stand up for my hair and its health. At the end of the day, I’m showing up to a set for a limited period of time, but my hair I’m going to live with for my entire life.
Sometimes I miss certain styles, but honestly I never feel like straightening my hair. I love my curly hair, it’s really fun and expressive, and easier to manage than straight hair. A part of me feels like people had their own relationship with my hair. On one hand I’m grateful, because yes, I want people to see more women in the media with natural hair. The double-edged sword is when I think, ‘Wait, are you seeing me, or are you just seeing my hair?’ That’s one of the reasons I was really excited about cutting it off. Yes, I’m still curly, but I don’t want to be holding onto long, curly hair because it says a lot of things, I think, that I don’t always agree with. People make assumptions, and I’m not my hair.
For me, the products are constantly changing. Everyone has a different curl pattern, so I would never want to prescribe one particular thing for someone. Shai cuts my hair, and he’s considered the curl doctor on Instagram. He has staples. One of the staples is the Deva cut. If you have curly hair, cut it when it’s dry, obviously. When it’s wet and long, that’s not the shape it’s going to be when it’s cut and dry. Another thing is to not use products that include shea butter or mineral oils, because those things coat the hair—they make the hair look shiny, but they’re not actually penetrating the cuticle.
I have learned that I don’t have to focus on making my hair perfect in the shower. My epiphany with curly hair happened when I realized you have to put in just as much effort as when you have straight hair. When your hair is straight, you get out of the shower, you blow dry it, you straighten it, you curl it, you style it—you have to do all of those things with curly hair, also. You go section by section with your hair, spray it, wet it down again, put your product in, and then blow dry or air dry it. It takes as much time! 'Wash and go' is a myth.
Curly girls should almost never use shampoo—you should always use a co-wash because it takes a long time for moisture to get down the coiled hair shaft. We can wet our hair—I wet my hair multiple times without actually rinsing it out. The only time I’ll ever put any kind of cleanser on is when I have incredible product buildup. In general, I bounce back and forth. I like Devacurl, I like Derma Organics—I’ve used every single kind of curl product. There is a difference between all of them. One of the main things that I look for is if it’s water-based. Then, I try to find a line that I like and use all of their products together, because I have learned that the chemistry of a product is made to work with its brothers and sisters. That’s hard, too. Devacurl is always a tried-and-true for me. It’s always something I can fall back on. For styling products, I’m a 'cheap, go to the drugstore, get some Ecostyler, and call it a day' kind of girl. When it comes to slicked-back styling, or any kind of hard style, you don’t want to be spending $70 on gel. And at nighttime I sleep on a satin pillowcase, or I’ll wear a satin bonnet, and usually my curls will last a few days. If they start to look a little crazy, I’ll do a slick-back. I will lather my hair in gel, mousse, and hairspray, and put a blowdryer to it and try to make it stay.
"My epiphany with curly hair happened when I realized you have to put in just as much effort as when you have straight hair."
With the job that I have, I’m wearing a lot more makeup on a daily basis than most people, and I’ve had a history with troubled skin. I’ve learned that I need to do multiple steps of cleansing— a triple cleanse that doesn’t strip my skin—and I try my best to wash my face at night. I tend to use a micellar water first, like Bioderma. Then I’ll cleanse with a foam cleanser of the same brand. If I use a Bioderma micellar water, I’ll use a Bioderma cleanser. Then I use a medicated antibacterial cleanser from the dermatologist. You can find antibacterial ingredients in most face washes, but I went to the dermatologist because it’s simple, it’s clean, and it doesn’t have the excess fragrances. I think if you have problem skin, having that one wash from the dermatologist is really helpful. I use a toner from the dermatologist, too. The more you can simplify your routine and get the products that you’re using in their simplest form, that’s sometimes the best for your skin. You’re going to think I’m a crazy person, but my moisturizer is also from the dermatologist. I don’t want people to follow me to the dermatologist, so I don’t want to give out the exact place. But I will say that most dermatologists have a line, and have products there. You know when you go to the store and products say ‘Dermatologist tested’? When it’s dermatologist tested, why not just go to the dermatologist and get the products they’re making themselves? That’s kind of my mindset, because I’m sick of trying a million things.
My makeup bag will always consist of, in order of importance: an eyebrow pencil—I love an Anastasia or a MAC. Then I go to mascara—I love Better Than Sex. The next thing that I would not be able to live without is a tinted moisturizer. I bounce around to different things. I’ve tried Laura Mercier, I’ve tried Beautycounter. I just love something that’s light, that might have an SPF, and I use two shades. One of the things I’ve learned is that when you’re in Sephora, or wherever you buy makeup, it oxidizes—it dries to a darker color. Sometimes when you’re trying it on, instead of putting it on your hand, put it on your face, walk around the store, and then look, because makeup takes a while to oxidize.
Today I have somewhat of a bright lip, Lime Crime's Suedeberry. I love a red lip—I think a red lip is sexy and classic, and it perks you up. Even if you’re having the shittiest day, putting on red lipstick is some self-care. Kat Von D has a great red lip, and there's Stila's Besos. And then I love lip oils—Kiehl’s and Hourglass have great ones. They look like clear glosses, but they last longer and they’re not sticky, and once they dry, they leave your lips more moisturized.
On my body, I moisturize with good old cocoa butter—it travels easy, especially since it’s in a solid form. And my fragrance—even though everyone in LA and New York wears it—is Le Labo Santal 33. What can I say? You can’t go wrong with that.”
—as told to ITG
Logan Browning photographed by Tom Newton in New York on May 22, 2019.