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Kerry Washington on her new memoir, self-care and the best beauty advice she's ever gotten

Plus, she shares the $11 cream that helps keep her eczema under control.
Image: Today - Season 67
Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Kerry Washington isn't just a star in front of the camera, she's a powerhouse behind the scenes as well. In fact, now, it's pretty rare that you'll see her in a role that she didn't have a voice in creating. The 46-year-old actress, who gained fame and critical acclaim for her portrayal of Olivia Pope in the long-running political drama "Scandal," is the founder of Emmy-nominated production company Simpson Street and has served as both star and executive producer in recent popular series like "Little Fires Everywhere" and Hulu's new dramedy, "Unprisoned."

So when it came to her partnership with Neutrogena — she's been working as an ambassador and creative consultant for the brand for nearly a decade — it was important to her not just to be another celebrity face for the company, but to have a voice there as well.

"It's similar to why I love not just acting, but also producing," Washington tells Shop TODAY. "I love acting, I love being an actor and I love being a face for Neutrogena. I love being able to herald our products all over the country, all over the world, but I also really like to have a seat at the table. I like to have a voice and be able to participate in the things that I do and make sure that I'm adding value and feeling like I can really stand behind the products I am sharing with people."

And this year, she's planning on using her voice in a different way: to tell her own story.

Washington recently announced that she would be releasing a memoir, "Thicker than Water." The book, which comes out Sept. 26, will dive into a subject that she has been notoriously private about through the years.

"[The book is] a lot about family, for me. It's a lot about understanding what family means, the family I was born into and the families that I have found along the way, and kind of how I think about myself and define myself in relationship to those to those dynamics," she says.

However, even with an upcoming book, new TV series and more exciting projects in the works, she still finds moments for self-care.

"Part of self-care for me is making the time to actually check in with myself and ask myself, what do I really need?" she says. So what does that look like right now? "Things are really busy for me right now, so making time for prayer, meditation is important," she says. "And also movement, for me. And that doesn't always mean like, pumping iron at the gym. I'm a real Pilates girl, I also love to train at the gym, but sometimes it's just going for a walk or having a dance party with the kids, just making sure that I'm moving my body."

Below, we asked Washington to walk us through some of her current favorite items, from the cream that helps keep her eczema under control to the anti-aging product that she uses every other night. Plus, she shares the best beauty advice she's ever gotten.

Shopping Diaries: Kerry Washington

Neutrogena Purescreen+ Tinted Sunscreen for Face with SPF 30

“I'm really excited about our mineral UV tint,” Washington says. “A lot of times the frustration for folks with mineral SPF is that it leaves a chalky white residue, and ours does not do that. I'm really proud of it. It comes in four different skin tones, so it allows for a really beautiful, flexible coverage. It is really lightweight. And it's 100 percent mineral actives, so it completely relies on mineral but also has vitamin E, which helps it to be more nourishing and hydrating and conditioning.”

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ Night Cream

“I dabbled with [retinol] a little bit in my early 30s, but then I went into my childbearing years and had to obviously avoid it for a while,” Washington says. “And then when I got to incorporate it again, I was really excited because I see, especially with a product like the Rapid Wrinkle Repair, I can see the effects immediately, I really feel it going to work immediately and see the signs immediately, particularly because of the hyaluronic acid. But over time — I’m at a cadence of using it every other night — to really see the signs of aging sort of be diminished, and to be able to give my skin all that healing without having a very greasy formula, I love it.”

LMNT Keto Electrolyte Powder Packets

When we asked about the best piece of beauty advice she's ever received, she says, “I bet it was from my mom, who was always focusing on us drinking enough water. And I feel like to this day, I think that's why I'm so partial to our Hydro Boost line, because I really was taught from an early age how important hydration is, from the inside out and the outside in, so I think getting enough water is so key.”

Of course, meeting your hydration goals for the day isn’t always the easiest thing, but Washington has a good hack. “I tend to add things to my water to make it a little sexier, whether it's a slice of lemon, or cucumber or there are these electrolyte packets called LMNT that I really love, because there's no sugar added, they're really clean. They're rooted in salt, which seems counterintuitive that salt would make you more hydrated, but it actually allows for the body to kind of absorb hydration better. So I'm really into those.”

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Fragrance-Free Hydrating Body Gel Cream

Washington says that she's been "in and out of dermatologists offices my whole life," because she has eczema. But through the years, she's learned some tricks for keeping it under control. “Hydration is key. So I love our our Hydro Boost Body Cream, I think it's really effective and I love it, love it, love it. And, again, hydration. For me, getting on top of water from the outside-in with hyaluronic acid and also inside-out by hydrating, by drinking a lot of water. Taking fish oil also is something that's been really helpful for me.”

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Push Up Lashes Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara

“You can layer [mascara], so I like to do ours, the Hydro Boost [plumping mascara], it’s so great, again, because it brings all that plumping to the hair follicle that it brings to the skin, and then maybe I'll add another layer of a more lengthening product like the Charlotte Tilbury [mascara].”

PATTERN Beauty Treatment Mask for Curlies, Coilies and Tight Textures

“I am kind of obsessed with my friend Tracee Ellis Ross’s line, Pattern. I think those products are spectacular,” she says. Specifically, she says that this hair mask is like, “a spa in a jar, it’s insane.”

Flawless by Gabrielle Union Scalp Soothing Tonic

When she's wearing more protective styles, like braids, she says that she turns to Gabrielle Union and Larry Sims' hair care line. This tonic is designed to hydrate and soothe the scalp. "It's a cream that also has peppermint in it that you can put in-between your braids that's very nourishing and cleansing for the scalp."