Four years ago, Alicia Keys suddenly decided to stop wearing makeup after nearly a decade of using cosmetics.
In a new interview with Glamour UK, the singer, 39, says she took a much-needed break after realizing that she'd become dependent on them to make her feel confident.
“Make-up was a big thing for me; I had been wearing it since I was, like, 16 years old,” the magazine's cover girl said. “And then, as I got into the music world, it was what you did every day to do your television, or to do your shoot. So, I did it because I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do. And I realized I became addicted to it; I didn’t feel comfortable without it.”
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Keys surprised her fans when she gave up makeup and started a #NoMakeup campaign on social media in 2016. During an interview with TODAY that year, the singer described the choice as an empowering and freeing one.
"We put so many limitations on ourselves. We put limitations on each other. Society puts limitations on us. And in a lot of ways, I'm sick of it. I'm over it, to be honest."
She also made it clear that she wasn't swearing off makeup forever.
"I love makeup! I love my lip gloss, I love my blush, I love my eyeliner. It's not about that," she said. "At the same time, I don't want to feel beholden to have to do it."
Flash forward four years and Keys is wearing makeup once again, but only when she feels like it. She's also worked hard to stay true to her personal style throughout her career.
“The pressure to try to (get me to) wear more dressy things ... that just wasn’t who I was and it will never be who I am. And even as I grow now, and can truly feel comfortable in multiple ways and styles, I still am who I am. So, I was happy that I was pretty strong from the beginning," she told Glamour UK.
Still, the singer realizes that it's not always easy to be an individual that doesn't always conform to societal trends, especially when you're working in the public eye.
"I think when you see images and standards of beauty, you can automatically think to yourself, ‘Oh, isn’t that what beautiful is? Shouldn’t I emulate that?’ (There are) all these standards you can subscribe to, without even realizing it," she said.
Soon, Keys will be releasing her own lifestyle and beauty brand named Keys Soulcare, and she told the magazine that she's always been passionate about skin care.
“I’ve always had a challenging time with my skin and having to figure out how to manage it, and be in the spotlight,” she recalled to the magazine. “Having to constantly be in this crazy cycle of putting on make-up to cover the bumps and scars and then because I had make-up on under the hot lights, there were more bumps and scars. I felt like I had to hide everything and I felt really self-conscious."
Hair care is another one of the singer's passions and she swears by her signature braids.
“Hair is such a gorgeous expression of our individuality and deserves to be respected,” she said. “I’ve always been proud of wearing braids and I love learning about the power of hair. I’ve always felt royal when I wear braids. There’s something so beautiful about the Blackness of it, about my African ancestry that I just feel truly connected to."