Logan Browning is a woman on the move, narrating her drive through Beverly Hills on a recent morning. “I just took my dog to the groomers,” the actor says, referring to her rescue mini poodle, Russell. “I got him a year ago, almost. New Year’s was the day I picked him up.” The timing is right for him to be lumped in with all the pandemic puppies on Instagram—as when Russell and his tiny pink tongue popped up in a beach photo this past May. Technically, though, he has aged out of the role. “He’s four years old, I think. A little gentleman.”
There’s a calm in Browning’s voice, which can be attributed to her mindfulness practice (she led guided meditations on social media over the past year and a half, to balmlike effect) and also to a pivot point in her career. Earlier this fall saw the series finale of Dear White People, the Netflix show that starred Browning as Samantha White, a firebrand media-studies major navigating Ivy League life. Developed from Justin Simien’s 2014 movie of the same name, which landed during the Obama presidency, the four-season arc unfolded against a backdrop of national tumult. “I used to accept a lot of things without questioning them, and Sam has made me question and act more,” Browning told Harper’s Bazaar in September, explaining how, even at 32, she absorbed lessons from the younger character. Now, the actor is excited about the “transitional moment” she finds herself in. “I saw how big an impact that Dear White People had on people,” Browning says, looking back on the series whose slate of guest directors included Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Janicza Bravo (Zola). “I’m going to continue to be very careful and intentional about what I choose next.”
That search for well-meaning projects extends to her latest one. Today, Browning joins True Botanicals’s “band of activists,” alongside Olivia Wilde, Laura Dern, and Zazie Beetz. To align with a California beauty company committed to natural ingredients through sustainable means feels spot-on for a wellness-minded, preternaturally radiant person like Browning. For founder Hillary Peterson, the feeling is mutual. “We’re not looking for a ‘face’ of the brand. We’re really looking for the brains—and the passion that these women are bringing to what we’re doing,” Peterson says. It’s no surprise that actors who are comfortable in front of the camera (and, like Booksmart director Wilde, behind it) make for evocative storytellers. As Peterson sees it, the mission for True Botanicals comes down to education above all: “It’s like, how can we empower people with information to take the best care of themselves and the people they love and the planet?”
Browning, not one for half-measures, spent close to a year with the products before officially signing on—“because I’m someone who has struggled with my skin a lot growing up,” she says. “If it was something that I was going to be using publicly and advocating for, I wanted to believe in it.” She sussed out which of the brand’s signature face oils suit her best (more on that below), and recently sat for an immersion course on the skin barrier: the protective lipid layer that is key to locking in hydration and minimizing flare-ups. (Browning will pass along that knowledge in a tutorial early this coming year.) In the meantime, the actor shares a defining moment in her curly-hair journey, a soon-to-launch cult cream, and her wellness wisdom for 2022.
Vanity Fair: What does everyday wellness look like to you?
Logan Browning: For me, my personal wellness is defined by my rituals and habits that I know make me my best in all of the ways: a five-minute meditation in the morning, stretching, drinking my water, taking my probiotics. I take a shower in the morning and [at] night now. It’s something that a dermatologist recommended to me when I was dealing with skin issues a while back, and it has been so helpful—and also just a lovely kind of rejuvenation thing. I’m very particular about building better habits and being consistent about that.
You began acting at 14. What did the beauty landscape look like when you were just starting out, and how did you see yourself within it?
When I was 14, I had just come to L.A. from Atlanta, and it was all so new to me. I was very much just a novice to this whole Hollywood world. I encountered some people not really knowing how to match my shade of makeup, or my hair was breaking off because it was being [overheated] on a set. But at the same time beauty, for me, was still very minimal because I started as a kid: I entered in the space of light foundation, blush, and Chapstick. I remember always having my hair straight—not because anyone asked it of me, but that’s just how I wore my hair at the time. I’m just thinking about how different I [now] look.