Keke Palmer Opens Up About PCOS, Her Skin, And Leaning Into Self-Love

If you don’t already follow Keke Palmer on Instagram, it’s time to do so ASAP. Why? Well, the actress, singer, and all-around-hilarious celebrity, 27, posts the most authentic, funny content, and she’s not afraid to get real with her 10.3 million (!) IG followers. Basically, the self-proclaimed “big boss” and “millennial diva” is about transparency—even when it comes to her skincare, confidence, and health struggles.

And yep, since she knows you always want more Keke content, the actress opened up to Women’s Health, too, specifically about what’s going on in her daily life, her favorite beauty products, as well as how she stays so darn self-assured.

One of the most moving parts of our convo was when Keke talked about her struggles with acne due to PCOS. “I had a moment where I looked in the mirror, and when I tell you my skin was so bad girl, like my skin was so bad,” Keke explained. “I’m hating my skin, and I’m being so mean to myself because I’m thinking that no one will ever really get to see me for me. I literally just started crying so much looking at myself. I was crying, crying, crying.” After she’d gotten out her tears in the moment (we all need a good cry sometimes), Keke decided to shift her self-talk. “And then I said, ‘I love you, I love you.’” She repeated the phrase to herself over and over again in the mirror until it stuck.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with PCOS (AKA, polycystic ovary syndrome), it’s an endocrine disorder that can throw the body’s hormones out of balance, often causing a number of symptoms like irregular or painful periods, migraines, ovarian cysts, severe acne, and more. Keke has spoken publicly about the way PCOS impacts her life, and she’s also come up with coping mechanisms for dealing with the chronic illness.

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She told me that she practices verbal affirmations of love and support for herself, which ultimately help her grasp her importance and place in the world. “Words are so powerful because they really just connect the heart and mind,” Keke explained. “This human experience, it can be so damning. We’re just here, and we’re just doing all this sh*t. You really just have to say you got your own back. That’s when it really comes together, because you realize that you’re just not alone. You can never be alone, because you always have you.”

Keke does tons of physical self-soothing, too, which can include anything from getting regular massages to giving herself hugs and pats on the back. Another important aspect of Keke’s body love? Her skin and hair habits, of course, which is why in addition to talking about ~all the things~, your favorite millennial diva also told me about the specifics of her beauty routine. So if you’re feelin’ it, keep reading for more of Keke Palmer’s truth-bombs and complexion secrets, as explained by the star herself.

Protective hair styles are her go-to.

“I love protective styles,” Keke explained. “My most-loved protective style is always going to be individual braids because it’s so easy for me to touch my scalp, as opposed to wigs or weaves that can just be really entrapping for the hair. Wigs and weaves used to thin my hair out a lot, so I am on this thing where I’ll do them sometimes but only for fun, specific shoots or wanting to change my look. But for me, they’re not a week, let alone a month, thing. I’m mostly keeping my hair in braids or keeping it natural and not really touching it too much.”

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Keke loves hair masks.

“I do love leave-in conditioners,” Keke said. She ran to the bathroom to show me the one she liked best. “It’s the Oribe Deep Treatment Masque,” she shouted back to me. “And then a lot of times I use homemade oils or homemade oil masks, and I’ve done my own specific research on what it can do for my hair and I share those things amongst my friends.”

She appreciates a good acne-fighting body wash, too.

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“I love that Olay products are affordable and that they’re durable—they’ve been in peoples’ households for years. I trust them. This one contains retinol, and I love that they’re creating products not just for your face but the body, too. You should treat the skin on your body the same way that you treat the skin on your face. So I’m very excited to upgrade my routine with the body cleanser and this body wash. Retinol can overnight just get into your skin and rejuvenate you for the morning,” Keke said.

Sunscreen is always a must, regardless of your skin tone.

“This is a very mild sunscreen. Sunscreen is very important. A lot of people think just because you have Black skin, it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden the sun can’t get you,” Keke explained. “That’s just not true,” she continued.”I’m a strong believer in SPF, and you can find the one that’s best for you. I try to find one that’s not too chalky, since a lot of them out there can be, and if you have brown skin you want to make sure it’s not washing you out.”

Aquaphor is also one of her staples.

“I just love Aquaphor because I know that it’s mild for me. It hasn’t hurt me, and my skin can sometimes get really dry, because I did Accutane when I was younger. My skin went from being oily, to combination, to dry,” said Keke.

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