Taraji P. Henson Launches Hair Care: 'If I Didn't Go Into Acting, I Would've Been a Cosmetologist'

Taraji P. Henson is the latest celebrity to launch a beauty line. Hear her personal reason why

Taraji P. Henson is putting a spin on the old adage new year, new you. The actress, who’s wrapping up the sixth and final season of Empire, is ringing in 2020 with her first-ever venture into hair care.

TPH by Taraji launches in Target this month after more than 10 years of hard work from the star. “I was like a mad scientist,” says Henson of creating the solution-oriented line, which she started concocting in her own kitchen.

The collection, which features 18 products that cater to a range of hair types, was inspired by the challenges Henson had keeping her hair healthy, even when she wore it in protective styles.

“Women think that just because you have your hair braided up under a weave or wig that you don’t have to [do anything else]. But you have to take care of it.”

What Henson personally noticed? “My scalp wasn’t being cared for,” she says, adding that her ah-ha moment led her to begin developing a product specifically for the scalp, an area “no one was really paying attention to” at the time, she says.

Not only did Henson test the product on herself, she’d ask friends to give it a shot. When one enthusiastically replied, “Oh, my God, my scalp feels amazing,” Henson says, “I knew I was onto something.”

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What set Henson’s scalp product apart from others on the market? Says the star: “I created applicators that deliver the product to your scalp. It’s not compromised on your fingertips or wasted on your hair.” Now, TPH has four scalp products: Never Salty scalp scrub and Master Cleanse scalp wash (below) and Ultra Chill cooling serum and mint condition tingling conditioner.

If the names (and gorgeous packaging) make you want to go out and buy the entire line, they’re two of the personal touches Henson worked tirelessly to perfect.

“Everything is color coded, we wanted themes,” says the star, who describes her $5-$15 dollar line as “luxury at an affordable price point.”

As for the names, “They’re me, they’re who I am. And when you read them, you believe it’s my line.”

Taraji hair care

Most of the time, Henson relies on the five products above to maintain healthy hair. “I keep my hair braided down most of the time because I’m working. Sweat builds up from the braids and the wigs, so [every time I take the braids out] I want to make sure my hair is in the best possible condition before I braid it back down again. So Sundays [are] like a spa day. I start with my scalp scrub, and sometimes I’ll use my Master Cleanse, too, so my hair is squeaky clean.”

Next, Henson says, “I follow that up with one of my shampoos and masks, then we braid it down with my Glow Up oil so that my hair doesn’t feel brittle and deprived when I take it out.”

When she rocks her natural hair, Henson turns to the Hustle & Co cowash and Make it Rain conditioner.

For more of Henson’s favorite products — from her favorite drugstore face wash to a pricey perfume — check out the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands nation-wide on Friday.

Taraji P. Henson
Taylor Hill/Getty

Henson says she’s always been a hair guru. “I know that if I didn’t go into acting, I would have been a cosmetologist. Thanks so social media, her fans know she she takes hair care seriously, too. “My fans trust me, so this is me sharing with them.”

But being a celebrity didn’t make achieving this dream a breeze. “It’s challenging when you have a dream, because you’ve got to sell it to the world.

And though her vision is coming to fruition, Henson still can’t “fathom” seeing her hair care on shelves. “It’s so close, but so far away. And the buildup of having the nerve to say, ‘I’m going to do this one day,’ then making it happen is just like…wow.”

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