Billy Porter is known for his maximalism: in sweeping red carpet gowns, larger-than-life theater and television roles (Lola in Kinky Boots and Pray Tell on Pose, to name a few), and strongly-held opinions that have put him at the forefront of progressive politics in Hollywood. Yet at home, Porter says he’s a minimalist. “Especially since everything has gone digital,” he tells SELF.
The Emmy-, Tony-, and Grammy-winning actor speaks about home like a sanctuary. He recently left New York City after 30 years for a house on Long Island with his husband. There, he’s finding more peace, and sinking deeper into self-care. “In the last three years I’ve come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t taking care of myself and that I needed to figure out what self-care means,” Porter says. For him, this involves taking care of his physical health, too. Porter recently shared that he has HIV and effectively manages his condition, including by visiting his doctor every three months, as SELF previously reported. “I know what’s going on in my body. I’m the healthiest I’ve been in my entire life,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.
Here, the star walks us through his bedtime routine, including his cleaning ritual—Porter is currently partnering with Clorox Scentiva—the skin-care brands that give him his signature glow, and how he takes care of himself in the quiet of the suburbs.
The first part of the routine before bed is to make sure that my kitchen is clean.
And I do that by getting everything together and then wiping everything down with Clorox Scentiva. And I’m not lying to you, I use it for real. Tahitian Grapefruit Splash, Pacific Breeze & Coconut—those smells are amazing. That’s where I start, because I want to wake up to cleanliness. I want to wake up to a clean space.
Then I do my face care.
The regimen starts with makeup wipes, any kind of makeup wipe. Then, I’m washing my face with a cleanser, make sure it’s all clean. Then I’ll use some sort of serum, or lotion, or something to make sure that I hydrate my skin. And that’s pretty much it.
Kiehl’s has been a constant for the last 30 years. Herbivore is something new that I just found over the last few years, working on Pose. Aesop, I love. I love Lord Jones, and their CBD body butters and body lotions.
I just really pamper myself before bed. I actually have this natural body butter by a friend of mine, called Elements Organica, and it’s this bar that’s all organic. And I don’t think I’ve ever really used anything like that. The way it goes on, it feels like the Midnight Recovery Concentrate by Kiehl’s, but for my whole body. It’s really great. My body feels like butter.
I always make sure that there’s dimmer lighting on everything.
And I have candles. I really love candles. I love the Molton Brown bath stuff, as well as their candles that correspond.
I’m a minimalist, actually.
I’m a total minimalist at home, especially since everything has gone digital. The things that used to clutter up were books and CDs and DVDs. Now all that stuff has gone away and it has become digital, so I’m good with hardly anything because it’s on my computer and my iPad, and my phone.
I put my sleeping mask on and I get in the bed.
I sleep in the nude. I wear my little pajamas that people have sent me around the house. I wasn’t naturally a pajama person until recently, literally within the last year. Being at home all day, every day creates a space where, oh, well, maybe these good silk pajamas might come in handy.
Well, the fact that self-care is even in my lexicon is the new part.
And by new part, I mean, in the last three years I’ve come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t taking care of myself and that I needed to figure out what self-care means. I used to hate cleaning. I really did. But now I don’t, because I realized that once I’m through with what many perceive to be the chore of it, I get to sit in the afterglow. It cracks open my mind to clean and to transform your space into something that feels otherworldly just with the scents. It really cracks me open, it fills my spirit.
For my ideal night of sleep, I am in my bed with my mask on, beside my husband, with our dog.
She’s brand new, so we’re still figuring that out. She’s only five months old.
Sleep is critical. It’s the peace of it. We’ve moved out of the city to Long Island, onto an acre of land. I didn’t know that I needed it. It’s the quiet that is energizing and recharging. I don’t miss the city, I really don’t. I lived there for 30 years. It’s an hour and 15 minutes away. If I need, I’ll get in the car and go.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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