“I was born in Queens, New York. My mother has a very thick accent, and she’s third generation Queens. I moved to Port Washington, Long Island, and that’s where I was throughout high school. Then, I lived in New York City for college, and went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, studying drama. I remember fighting my mom, saying, 'I don’t need to take driver’s ed! I’m going to live in New York City for my entire life and only do theater and I’ll never have to learn how to drive a car.'
About two years after I graduated college and I was waiting tables and doing off-Broadway and really doing the ‘struggling artist’ thing, I got it in my head to try Los Angeles, where I would have to do my side hustle far less. So I moved to LA at 25, and still had a side hustle for years, waitressing and babysitting and catering and personal assisting, and every job I could get my hands on until Shonda Rhimes changed my life with Quinn Perkins and Scandal.”
Playing Quinn was incredible. Not only was it incredible because I got to work with Shonda Rhimes, who’s one of the most prolific, incredible writers of our time, but also, I got what we all call the Scandal fam, where truly with all my heart and soul we are a very, very, very close cast. We text every day, we Zoom hang, we go away on Scandal reunions… Kerry Washington, Darby Stanchfield, Bellamy Young—the other ladies of Scandal—are dear, dear, dear friends of mine. Even not just the ladies—I was texting with Josh Melina, George Newbern, and Scott Foley yesterday. Tony Goldwyn and I are regularly in touch, Joe Morton and I continuously work together on theater. It is a true family. Not only on camera was it a total dream job, because I got to play a very complicated, fun role that changed so much over the seven seasons, but off camera, I learned so much and made friends and family for my lifetime. Gladiators [Scandal fans] were such a huge part. We wouldn’t be able to make the show without the Gladiator fans. It’s sort of like a special language or club or something. Whenever I meet someone, they’re like, “No, I’m an OG Gladiator. I’ve been with Scandal since day one.” I’m like, “Okay, we’re already cool.” It’s just an automatic connection.
I’m very lucky that I happen to work like five minutes from my house, which, for motherhood, is the best thing that ever happened. I loved my labor. I have a mom podcast called Katie’s Crib, and we have a lot of pregnancy stories on it, and yes, there are some scary things and scary experiences. But I always think it’s important to hear. There are also a lot of women who have a great time and who are fine, and everything goes great, you know? People really like to war-story about it, like, “I was in labor for fifty hours and then I had a C-section.” But I can’t tell you how many stories I have in my head that are just rather boring. “I went in, I got induced, they did the pitocin, I took a nap, I woke up, contractions started, I got the epidural, I waited, they told me to start pushing, I pushed for thirty minutes, and the baby was here.” And that’s what you want. You want boring and nothing to write home about—I went in, I conquered, I rocked it, I came home, and everything went fine.
I do a whole regime from Biologique Recherche. I live by it, so a lot of my face products are from there. I use P50 to take off my makeup at night. Then, I use a serum from Future Cosmetics called Beauty Drops. Then, I use their Extreme Cream during the day and Biologique Rechere Placenta Cream at night. Then, I use Strivectin Neck Cream. My eyes are really sensitive to anything that has retinol or anything in it, so I’m really all natural about the eye area. I usually go between Mario Badescu Olive Eye Cream or Kiehl's Avocado Eye Cream. It’s thick and shimmery, and I’m all about keeping the area hydrated. I keep trying different de-wrinkling eye cream, and it might be okay for a night, and then at day two or three, I’m like, “My eye is completely red and blown up.” I can’t do it.
I’m big into my facialist, this woman Nousha (@rejuvenatewithnousha). She does something called a Reiki facial. She also does aqua gold facials, which is a great brightening pick-me-up for events. She’s amazing. She has the most incredible face and body oil called Rejuvenate With Nousha that is a massive staple in my house. The Reset—oh my god. It’s incredible. I use it on my body if there’s any mosquito bites, because there’s a lot of healing properties in it, so if I have any mosquito bites or a small cut or something, I put it everywhere. I use it most nights also as my last moisturizing layer before I go to bed and I use it on my hands and stuff. She originally created it, I’m pretty sure, as a face oil for all the nurses and frontline workers who had to wear PPE. I remember in the beginning of the pandemic, they were showing how bruised their faces were. It was originally for that, and then we were all like, ‘This is incredible’.
Whenever I meet someone, they’re like, “No, I’m an OG Gladiator. I’ve been with Scandal since day one.” I’m like, “Okay, we’re already cool.” It’s just an automatic connection.
I’m really good about taking off my makeup. I think in my early 20s, before I was on Scandal, I would have those nights of sleeping in makeup, and I’d be like, “Who cares?” Now, I’m kind of a naturalist. If I’m not working, I never, ever wear makeup. If I do, it’s the Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Eyebrow Gel in shade 4.5. It’s a little bit of the Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer for contour, because I had a baby, and that helps around my cheekbones and underneath my jawline. It’s the blighlighter from Jamie Makeup on my cheeks, which is a combo between a highlighter and a cheek tint. I’m a classic girl of the L’Oréal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara with the Shiseido eyelash curler. I’m a Burt’s Bees tinted chapstick person. Very natural.
I’m really, really careful about putting heat on my hair. Part of my job is to put so much heat on my hair, so whenever I’m not working, I really just rock it natural and go days without washing it and live by dry shampoo and ponytails and headscarves. I always sleep with my hair down because I don’t want it broken from any hair ties. I learned from Kerry Washington to definitely sleep on a silk pillowcase. My aunt Joan was always like, “Train yourself to sleep on your back! Train yourself to sleep on your back!” [Laughs] And I try my hardest, but it’s pretty hard. From all the live tweeting and all the phone stuff we’re doing, I try to be very conscious about how much I’m looking down, because of my neck.
When I wash my hair, I mix between Davines and Bioplex. I’m really careful because I have to focus the shampoo on my scalp and head, and really only condition the ends. Someone just taught me that a year ago—that you’re not supposed to condition your whole head. I couldn’t figure it out. I was like, “Why have I washed my hair and my roots are sort of greasy?” They were like, “No, just shampoo your head at the scalp and then condition the ends and where your haircut ends.” I was like, “Oh, I’m not supposed to dump conditioner at my roots?” [Laughs] That’s just what works for my hair, because then I can go days without [washing my hair]. I probably only wash my hair two times a week. I’m a big air dry person. I love putting the Virtue Split Ends Serum on the tips of my hair, and keeping the roots dry. I’m really lucky. My hair has this sort of natural beachy wave thing, and I just rock that.
My hair is horrific in my regrowth from pregnancy. I have these short, horrible bangs in the corners of my head. It’s from all the fallout from my hormones from having a baby. I put my hair up in a messy bun and I pull those wisps and fucked up bangs—excuse my language—from the corners of my head down, and they curl up and they’re all weird, and I just rock it with pride. I’m like, whatever, it will come back. I got it back from my first kid, and it’s coming back for my second. But every single pregnant woman I know has lost their hair and had that moment where they look in the shower and it’s like a freaking toupee in the drain, and they’re like, “Oh my god, I didn’t think this was going to happen to me.” [Laughs]
BODY + FITNESS
Even my body this time around—I’m not at the number I want to be at, not that numbers really matter. But honestly, my body’s just different, and I’m sort of into it. I’m also fifteen months postpartum. I really haven’t even started a workout routine. I’m just starting to be like, “Oh, it feels good to walk. It feels good to hike.” My doula is very strict, like, “Don’t workout for the first year. Heal. Go on walks. Do things that feel good.” Your body’s going through a crazy time. It’s amazing. Pregnancy is hard, and the end is a special kind of hellscape. [Laughs] The end is the freaking worst. What’s so crazy is that you feel scared of labor and you feel scared of those things, but you feel more scared to continue your life pregnant. So you’re like, “Please let this end.”
I go to bed completely lotioned within an inch of my life. My body is caked in this stuff called Kiki Cream, it’s a really natural, all organic shea butter. I started it throughout my pregnancies too, on my belly, but it’s meant for your whole body. My nails are a disaster. My feet are a disaster. I should really be doing better at figuring out what I could be putting on my cracked heels. I try to do the Kiki cream on my heels and then wear socks to bed, and that’s always good, but it never happens.
I’m kind of in between fragrances right now. I use a lot of Eau de Orange Blossom from Coqui Coqui, but I’m also kind of a hippy. During the cold season, I’m into using On Guard Protective Blend from Doterra. I have two little germ-filled children who are disgusting, and they’re constantly battling colds and diarrhea, so I’m constantly wearing this stuff called On Guard, which has a little bit of a cinnamon scent, but it’s more of an essential oil. I feel like I’m around a lot of people in close quarters at work, so I don’t want to be too overly scented. I’m literally shooting a comedy scene today where there’s six of us in a bed rolling around. I just don’t want people to be like, “Whoa… Katie… Calm down with the perfume.” I really also like Lakshmi Fragrance Oil. I’m big into that. It’s like, abundance and all that crap. [Laughs] It’s delicious. It’s so delicious. Also, similarly, for Inventing Anna, we got to shoot in Morocco, at the hotel where my character was conned, in Marrakech, called La Mamounia. It’s one of the most exclusive, fancy, elite hotels in the world. They have their own scent that they blast through the hotel. We shot that two years ago, and I bought some of the scent, and I just spray it as a pick-me-up. It’s a reminder of the last place I traveled internationally pre-COVID."
— As Told to ITG
Katie Lowes photographed by Katie Thompson in LA.