“I’m Not Covering Up Anymore”: Alicia Keys Explains Why She’s Currently Team #NoMakeup

June 1, 2016  |  

Are you a makeup lover who doesn’t leave the house without at least some foundation, mascara, and lipstick? Do you spend your spare time clearing out your bank account at MAC or, like a friend of mine, taking classes at Sephora?

Or maybe you are someone who enjoys a good beat face but doesn’t relish in the time and work it takes to make it happen. You love some lashes and getting your makeup done, but the process is one you take on only a few times a week.

Or are you someone who doesn’t like makeup? Someone who only wears it sometimes because people tell you that you should for certain occasions. Someone tired of being told that to look beautiful, or to just show your face in public, you need to be gussied up because “You never know who you will meet!” If you could, you would opt for a bare face at all times and let your skin breathe.

Alicia Keys falls in the latter category. The Grammy winner has, as of late, decided to take a break from wearing makeup. It’s not 100 percent clear whether this will be a temporary thing, something she only does when she’s not on the red carpet, or if she’s fully done with all things concealer, mascara and beauty-blender related. But in a very revealing piece for the Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner site Lennyentitled “Alicia Keys: Time To Uncover,” Keys penned a letter about why she is team #nomakeup as she works on her newest album. It all started when she realized she was writing a lot of songs about masks, the ones we wear metaphorically.

In one song I wrote, called “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself,” it says,

In the morning from the minute that I wake up / What if I don’t want to put on all that makeup / Who says I must conceal what I’m made of / Maybe all this Maybelline is covering my self-esteem

No disrespect to Maybelline, the word just worked after the maybe. But the truth is … I was really starting to feel like that — that, as I am, I was not good enough for the world to see.

This started manifesting on many levels, and it was not healthy.

Every time I left the house, I would be worried if I didn’t put on makeup: What if someone wanted a picture?? What if they POSTED it??? These were the insecure, superficial, but honest thoughts I was thinking. And all of it, one way or another, was based too much on what other people thought of me.

After getting a handle on these thoughts through a newfound appreciation for meditation, Keys had a revelation. She wasn’t going to cover up anymore, both metaphorically and literally. It wasn’t easy at first. Especially when a photographer decided to shoot her as she was, bare and beautiful, for the packaging for her album.

I’d just come from the gym, had a scarf under my baseball cap, and the beautiful photographer Paola (never met a Paola I didn’t like) said, “I have to shoot you right now, like this! The music is raw and real, and these photos have to be too!”

I was shocked. Instantly, I became a bit nervous and slightly uncomfortable. My face was totally raw. I had on a sweatshirt! As far as I was concerned, this was my quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo-shoot look. So I asked her, “Now?! Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real!!”

And that was it. She started to shoot me.

It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic circulating. And I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.

Keys felt driven to embrace the idea of going without–without her insecurities, without the “walls I built over all those years,” and without the heavy makeup so that she could start fully listening to and embracing herself, inside and out. She would love if you could do the same.

“I hope to God it’s a revolution,” Keys wrote. “‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”

I love it. And as someone who can relate to the struggle of having adult acne, which Keys has spoken about, and often feeling as though you have to wear makeup so people won’t comment on your skin, I completely respect and appreciate her choice to give all the powders and creams and colors a break. She looks lovely.

Check out Keys’s full Lenny letter and be sure to share your thoughts on her #nomakeup movement.

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