Danai Gurira Reveals Personal Secrets

The actress and playwright Danai Gurira was born in Iowa but grew up Zimbabwe. That may be an explanation for why, when it comes to beauty, Ms. Gurira, who plays the kick-butt General Okoye in “Black Panther,” finds fun in variety. Now living in New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta, Ms. Gurira, 40, will be reprising Okoye for “Avengers: Infinity War,” out later this month. Find out what beauty staples she’s leaning into lately.


Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask. CreditHarry Eelman for The New York Times

Skin Care

I really feel like I’ve been on a constant journey on how to enjoy beauty, and it’s about the things you pick up along the way. I started experimenting with makeup in my teens. Sometimes I do a little less; sometimes I do a little more. Often I just use CeraVe. It’s a gentle cleanser and good for combination skin. I also like having a hyaluronic acid component in my routine.

Then I use a lot of Sisley. My makeup artist introduced me to Sisley when I was battling dehydration in the dead of winter in New York. She used the Black Rose Cream Mask on me, which is really less of a mask and more of a cream. It was really great for my skin, and now I always have it for long flights. I also use the mattifying moisturizer, which is oil free. And I have their lip stuff. It’s just a lip balm, but it’s pretty fantastic.

I’ve been on set a lot lately, and that’s when I really stick with what works for me. The worst thing would be to disrupt my skin care. If I’m going to be in the sun, I might add the Sisley All Day All Year, which has sun protection. I’ll also use Clarins Beauty Flash Balm before I put on makeup. It’s hydrating and glow-y. I use it religiously.


Chanel lipstick. CreditHarry Eelman for The New York Times


I definitely take what I learn from the pros and apply it to what I do at home. Lately I’ve really grown to love a good lip. Sometimes I’ll do something subtle, and sometimes I’ll go for it — it depends on what I’m wearing. My makeup artist ends up giving me a lot of lip products because I’m a germophobe and don’t to want to share. I have a great collection. I use a lot of Chanel lipstick for the bold colors. They have a really great variety of reds that work on my skin tone. For my character on “Black Panther,” I brought out my own Chanel lipstick in Etienne, which is like a burgundy red. It worked so well, it became part of my character.

Otherwise, I don’t wear a ton of makeup daily, but I do love to explore. The older I get, the more confident I am exploring.

My key things are eyeliner, some shadow and a gloss. Sometimes I put a base on over my Beauty Flash glow, but only if I need it. If I do, I use M.A.C. Matchmaster in Numbers 9 and 10. Eyeliner, I would say I have some good ones from M.A.C. M.A.C. also has some great eye shadow palettes I lean into. I have mascara by L’Oréal.

The one thing I don’t do is contour. I would never even attempt it. It’s partly because I leave that kind of stuff to the pros, but even when I’m working with makeup artists, I don’t like when they contour so much that I can’t see my face anymore. I want to see my face!


MAC Matchmaster makeup. CreditHarry Eelman for The New York Times


My hair is very short right now. I had a ’Fro until I started shooting “Black Panther.” For the movie, I went down to basically bald. In some way it’s been bald ever since. I love short hair. I think it can be a bold look. I like the user-friendliness of my hair now. There’s an ease to it.

But I think long hair can look beautiful as well. There is no one way. The beauty is in the variety. Actually, I’m trying to grow my hair out again, but then sometimes I have to cut it for a reshoot, so I’m back where I started.

I use a lot of Shea Moisture shampoos and conditioners. I have a variety. I travel so much that I have them in all of my travel things. I don’t use a ton of hair products, but if I do, I’m looking for something hydrating. I like the Moroccanoil sprays.


I don’t really wear fragrance. But sometimes I’ll use one that’s aromatic — I tend not to wear florals. I go for something like Le Labo Santal 33, which both men and women can use.

Other Services

I go for deep tissue massages. In L.A., I go to the Beverly Wilshire. They have fantastic services there, or sometimes I go to this Thai massage place in Echo Park.

Diet and Fitness

I don’t really think about it except that I try to eat as healthy as I can. I don’t do dairy, and I don’t do meat, but that’s about it. There’s a food delivery service I use when I’m on set. It’s called Brandi You’re a Fine Girl.

I work out regularly with a trainer — her name is AJ Fisher — and I love swimming. When I was in New York more, I would use the gym at N.Y.U., which was my alma mater. That’s where I had a good swim routine. I don’t find L.A. the easiest place to swim. I’m still looking for a great place there.