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Kerry Washington Is Neutrogena's New Face (and Consultant)! Read Our Exclusive Interview With the Star

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Courtesy Neutrogena

Kerry Washington is having the best year ever. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Olivia Pope on Scandal (aka our reason for existing on Thursday nights), she tied the knot, PEOPLE named her the Best Dressed Woman in the World — and the excitement doesn’t stop there.

The actress has been tapped to be the new face (and brains!) of Neutrogena, earning the official title of creative consultant in addition to fronting ads due to run early next year. “I never wanted to partner with a company where I felt like I was losing myself and my sense of authenticity,” Washington tells PEOPLE. “This is really about working with a company I respect and admire.”

In her new role, the actress will be co-creating marketing initiatives, giving product feedback,  and yes, showing off her gorgeous skin in ads. “The position is new for me and for them. It’s a way to be authentically involved in a real partnership with the company,” she says.

It’s a natural fit for the actress who already has a go-to  within the brand (Makeup Remover Wipes: “I will not go to bed with makeup on so it’s great to have a product that will get it off without leaving my skin too oily or dry”) and who loves to talk “beauty stuff” with her Twitter followers. “Now I can be on an adventure with my fans where I’ll be able to hear feedback on the products,” she says. “I live and work in makeup so I have a perspective on how a lip color works after eight hours on the set or an hour on the red carpet.”

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But she admits that it takes more than some lipstick to get into Olivia Pope mode. “I’m so grateful for the hairstylist and makeup artist on the show. I roll out of bed at 4 a.m. and sit in the chair at 4:30 and they transform me into that person.”

The one thing she doesn’t rely on to transform into “that person” is, interestingly, perfume. “Whenever I play a different character I change my scent,” she explains. “Perfume can really set a tone or a mood in a room. Olivia needs to be neutral in the workplace.”

So there’s no “borrowing” luxe perfume from Pope’s vanity. Can she at least shop her covetable wardrobe? “No,” Washington says. “One of the things [Scandal stylist] Lyn Paolo and I feel passionate about is making Olivia have a real closet, which is why we always repeat at least one item of clothing. She’s a real woman with a real closet.”

RELATED: Five Life Lessons You Can Learn from Olivia Pope

Not that Washington needs to take pieces from the set — these days, the star is the undisputed queen of the red carpet (hence that whole “Best Dressed” thing). “Right now I’m having a Giambattista Valli moment,” she shares, though when pressed to pick a favorite look, she chooses the Giles Deacon design she wore to the London premiere of Django Unchained. “The [dress], the faux bob, the dark lip, it all just came together,” she says.

That may be, but something tells us that Washington’s showstopping beauty moments are just getting started. Are you excited about her Neutrogena partnership? What will you be requesting from her on Twitter?

–Andrea Lavinthal