Javicia Leslie, the 33-year-old star of the CW’s Batwoman, is having a busy 2021. Onscreen, she’s stepping into the role (last held by Ruby Rose) of Ryan Wilder, a homeless woman who rises up to fight for justice. In real life she’s breaking barriers as the first Black woman to step into the iconic superhero’s shoes. “I’m really excited for people to see this new Batwoman and to really let their imagination go wild and watch the show,” says Leslie. “I think we really need that right now.”
After all that action—and a crazy shoot schedule—Leslie, who splits her time between L.A. and Vancouver, needs time to decompress. “Sometimes, when I finish work, it takes me a while to settle down and really relax to a point where I can go to sleep,” she says. “If I’m working overnight, which means I’m sleeping during the day, I have blackout shades to really help me rest peacefully.” She also swears by a special set of daylight-blocking glasses given to her by a castmate to help deal with the odd hours. “They help my eyes get adjusted so that by the time it’s time for me to go to sleep, they’re ready,” she says. “I actually wear them until the moment that I go to sleep—I keep them on my eyes even when I’m laying in bed and setting my alarm clock.”
We asked Leslie for the full bedtime routine that gets her to sleep no matter what time of night—or day—she turns in.
The secret weapon that gets my skin really clean
Before bed I kind of go through a process. It’s very important for me to take off my makeup when I get home, so I use Simple makeup remover wipes. Then after I do that, I wash my face with some Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap. I have to keep everything very simple. My skin is super sensitive, and with everything going on with having to wear a mask all the time, I feel like that’s doing the best job of helping me combat any type of bacteria buildup on my skin. My big secret that I feel everyone should know is witch hazel. It really helps to soothe irritated skin, and I think it also helps to block acne that could come from the makeup I have to wear at work and the mask that I’m constantly wearing as well.
The mask that smells so good it lulls me to sleep
I love a nice clean smell—my perfume is literally called Clean. There’s a brand called Laneige, and they have a sleep-care mask called the water sleeping mask and I love it. It’s superlight, and my skin feels protected. I think you need to make sure you’re putting some type of layer protection on your skin when you sleep because a lot of times we’re sleeping on cotton pillowcases and that can cause a lot of buildup.
The essential that protects my hair
I like to wear my hair in a scarf to protect it against the cotton pillowcases. As long as it’s satin and it’s a bonnet, I’m all good.
The duvet I’m obsessed with
I love bedding. I love bamboo sheets or nice Jersey cotton sheets. And then I love linen duvet covers. In my Vancouver place I have this burnt orange duvet cover, and it’s just all of this fluffiness around me. I love the texture. I love the wrinkledness of it. It makes me want to jump in the bed because it always looks kind of like undone, you know? I also decorate my bed with these two bouquets of dried lavender. So when I get into bed, my bed has an essence of lavender.
My nightstand essentials
In my Vancouver place, on one side of the bed, there’s a snake plant and a monstera plant, and then on the other side, on my nightstand, there’s my alarm clock, my cocoa butter chapstick, my journal with my pen, and my copy of The Artist’s Way.
The thing that keeps my dreams sweet
I try not to watch TV before I go to bed because I tend to have very lucid dreams. I try to journal before I go to sleep to leave all of my thoughts that I had from the day on a piece of paper—that way I can go to sleep without any of the heaviness of the day. But I also like to ask myself questions before I go to sleep in my journaling and allow my dreams to answer the questions that I need.
I sleep better at night knowing…
I sleep better at night knowing that my alarm is set. I forgot that last night. And I woke up 45 minutes late today. I was so pissed.
Photo courtesy of Javicia Leslie; photographer: John Jay; stylist: Jyotisha Bridges; hair: Sean Fears; makeup: Dion Xu