In the new role, she will not only appear in ads for Neutrogena beginning in 2014, but also advise on products and marketing. Although Neutrogena has a number of celebrity spokeswomen, Jennifer Garner, Julie Bowen and Hayden Panettiere among them, this is the first time one has taken on an advisory role.
"There are so many beauty companies out there that are about getting the look of the moment," Washington said Thursday at the Neutrogena corporate headquarters, where she was "reporting for her first day of school," as she called it, which entailed meetings with company executives, scientists and of course, the media. "What I love about this company is that they put health first. It’s not about looking like somebody else, it's about looking like the best version of yourself."
Washington shared that she has been using Neutrogena's Oil Free Acne Wash on and off since she was a teenager. She's also a fan of Neutrogena's lip tints, and was wearing the Moisture Smooth Color Stick in Rich Raisin, along with a gorgeous Giambattista Valli dress. She discovered the brand's makeup remover towelettes while she was in college, and still uses them on set, she said.
"Can you believe this is my new job? To play like a scientist in the beauty lab?" she joked, with beakers, test tubes and an array of Neutrogena products laid out on a table in front of her.
Neutrogena was founded in 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff, and was originally a cosmetics company named Natone. Global success came in the 1950s with the development of a transparent orange glycerin facial beauty bar that promised to restore skin to its natural pH without any soap residue, and made the brand a favorite with dermatologists. Neutrogena is now part of the Johnson & Johnson conglomerate.
"It's the first time this has been done before, so we’re both still discovering how it's going to work," Washington said of her role. "It’s about having a voice. I want to be open to what my fans are saying about stuff I’m sharing with them, and to be able to bring that to the company. Also, because I live and work in makeup, to be able to offer feedback about products in action, what they're like after eight hours on set or after the red carpet, that is interesting to me. I'll also be co-creating marketing initiatives to pitch product to different audiences."
Washington's next big gig will be hosting "Saturday Night Live" on Nov. 2, a challenge she's looking forward to.
"They’re a well-oiled machine," she said of the cast. "So I’m just going to drop myself in their comedy boot camp and try to have a lot of fun."