Alicia Keys: Real and Raw

Alicia Keys has always been beautiful. When she released her debut album in 2001, even with uniquely designed braids, light foundation, tomboyish swag and a voice that induced chills when she sang, her beauty shined bright.

Then, as her career progressed, fans and followers began to see a more feminine presence. Her signature braids? Gone. Timbaland boots were swapped for heels. And soon, Keys’ crop tops and jeans were traded for form-fitting dresses and skirts, and her face became a canvas for various shades of makeup. Still, A. Keys was stunning.

Fast-forward to 2016. Keys released a new single, In Common, and a bare-faced Alicia sits on the cover, her style and essence illuminated. She’s always been real, but this au natural look took her vibe to a higher level of authenticity, especially in the airbrushed, super perfect music industry.

Following the release of her song, Keys performed on Saturday Night Live and her appearance did not distract from the music. She was all Alicia.

In a Lenny Letter, Keys wrote an essay that further detailed the bare-faced decision that came to fruition during a photo shoot with Paolo Kudacki, and the hesitation that preceded the final outcome.

“I swear it was the strongest, most empowered, most free and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.”

When she first entered the industry, Keys said she struggled with appearing flawless and becoming what “they” wanted her to be.

“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,” she wrote.

But, now, after Kudacki insisted on capturing the megastar in her true essence, there’s no turning back.

“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.”

And her hubby, Swizz Beatz seems to adore the natural look, too!


Ladies, it’s been tried before with social media challenges, but do you think you could fully ditch the makeup?

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