Alicia Keys on The Voice | NBC
A few years ago, singer Alicia Keys made the decision to ditch makeup and go with a fresh-faced look, a huge departure from the way most celebrities tackle the beauty game. Find out why 2019 Grammys host Alicia Keys doesn’t wear makeup.
In 2016, Keys hit the MTV Video Music Awards with a stripped down look — not a revealing dress, but rather, a bare face. Her look was in stark contrast to other celebs who arrived glammed up with smoky eyes and popping lip color, for sure, but Keys looked natural and beautiful.
Keys explains the pressures she felt about her appearance
In a May 31, 2016 essay in Lena Dunham’s newsletter Lenny, called Time to Uncover, Keys personally addressed her decision, with a movement she called #nomakeup.
In the essay, Keys shared her views on how many strive for perfection and how, when she became famous, all eyes were on her. She explained: “I remember when I first started to be in the public eye. Oh my gawd! Everyone had something to say. ‘She’s so hard, she acts like a boy, she must be gay, she should be more feminine!’ But the truth is, I was just from New York, and everyone I knew acted like that.”
She added: “But this wasn’t the streets of New York. This was the harsh, judgmental world of entertainment and my biggest test yet. I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon. Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the ‘they’s’ would accept me.”
Keys got a wake up call
Keys also shared how, when starting an album, she listed things she was sick of. Among the items was “how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women.”
Keys realized she was worried what other people thought of her, so she started to meditate, explaining she was “focusing on clarity and a deeper knowing of myself. I focused on cultivating strength and conviction and put a practice in place to learn more about the real me.”
Those efforts weren’t enough — until the singer explained that she had a powerful moment when she came to a photo shoot for a new album, arriving fresh from the gym. The photographer said, “I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!”
Keys explained how it made her feel “nervous and slightly uncomfortable,” since she wasn’t wearing makeup and was dressed in gym clothes. She hesitated initially, but surrendered to the idea and it was life-changing.
She wrote: “I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.”
Keys embraced #nomakeup
That photo shoot was transformative, Keys noted, explaining that she “felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves.” She added, “The universe was listening to those things I’d promised myself, or maybe I was just finally listening to the universe, but however it goes, that’s how this whole #nomakeup thing began.”