Taraji P. Henson Launches Hair-Care Products at Target

Courtesy TPH; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

"I had been living with this formulation and traveling around with my little weird mix for about two decades," the 'Empire' actress tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Taraji P. Henson is bringing her personal hair "concoction" to Target.

The Hidden Figures actress is debuting her hair-care line, TPH by Taraji, in stores and online Wednesday, featuring 18 products ranging from $9.99 to $14.99. The brand is based on homemade mixes that Henson crafted herself and has been using to treat her scalp for years.

Henson tells The Hollywood Reporter that she wore weaves when she first started working as an actress in Hollywood. “I love my hair and I didn't want to lose it. I wore it out [on] a couple of projects. The stress, the everyday maintenance.... I was like, 'My hair is going to break off,’” she says. The problem she faced was not being able to care for her scalp when she had a protective hairstyle. “That drove me nuts.”

“So I created this little concoction and it literally came from out of 'I need relief for my scalp now,'” she says. She tried seaweed and then tea tree oil. “I started doing concoctions with my favorite shampoos and mixing,” Henson says. “I just made this for me; it wasn't for the masses until I had friends try it on vacation one time, because they were complaining about their scalp. They were [like], 'Oh my God, this is amazing.' And I was like, 'I think I have something here.' But I had been living with this formulation and traveling around with my little weird mix for about two decades.”

She worked with beauty engineer Maesa on a marketable TPH by Taraji line that includes shampoo, conditioner, curl refresher, clay mask, hair milk, oil blend and heat protectant: “I sent them my little formulation in a little bottle, and they did reverse engineering.”

When she plays Cookie on Empire, Henson wears a wig with her hair braided down underneath. “In that case, I would do my home regimen, wash it, have my braider come braid it down,” she explains. “I'm probably going to have my hair braided down for two weeks max.” But in the interim, while her hair is braided, she’ll take the wig off after shooting and use her Ultra Chill Serum every other night. “It just makes your scalp feel good. That's what you want — relief to your scalp without washing,” Henson says. 

On set, her philosophy is trying to “stay in my lane” and let the hair and makeup teams work their magic. Since she has a wig, “no one's touching my hair. You can do whatever you want to that wig. I don't care. If it's for the character, like that's your job,” she says. “Just like they hired me to bring this character to life, they hired the makeup people to do their research.... OK, that's how Cookie's going to wear her hair this week? OK. So now it's my job to sell it.” That’s not to say she doesn’t ask them to apply a little hair serum before the wig goes on and she becomes Cookie, of course.

Much like how the natural hair movement inspired Black-ish actress Tracee Ellis Ross to launch her hair-care brand Pattern Beauty at Ulta last year, Henson says the conversations around natural hair in Hollywood (on Little and Insecure) have also played into her brand, which is made for all hair types. “This is why I made it — because there was a problem and I needed a solution. [It's not a] celebrity wanting to put her name on a brand and push it. This is mine. I came up with it because I needed it,” she says.