Keys, 35, was fresh from the gym when she walked into a shoot with photographer Paola Kudacki, who convinced the Grammy winner to be photographed with a makeup-free face.
“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!’” Keys wrote. “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!!’”
The resulting photo is the key art for Keys’s new single “In Common,” and it’s inspired the musician and activist to go without makeup more often, both for selfies and in professional photos, like those for upcoming Vanity Fair and Fault Magazine cover stories. The seeds of Keys’s #nomakeup revolution have been germinating a while, though; Keys wrote that many of the songs she began writing for her new album were “about masks filled with metaphors about hiding,” and that “I needed these songs because I was really feeling those insecurities.”
The response from others who shared makeup-free selfies was equally empowering to Keys, who wrote, “I hope to God it’s a revolution. ‘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.”
Check out her au naturel look in the video for “In Common.”