Alicia Keys Really Believes That Inner Beauty Is the Best Highlighter

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Photo: Allure

For the first time since foregoing makeup last spring, Alicia Keys wears makeup on the cover of Allure’s new February issue. Still, there’s plenty to praise about the shoot. She looks joyful, still appears refreshingly (almost) bare-faced, and the magazine hasn’t gone overboard with retouching, bucking the permitted “Three Eye Wrinkle” look that has long dogged celebrity-magazine covers. Her interview in the magazine is even better, as she talks more about her definitive thoughts on her no-makeup choice, being a “slave” to makeup, and why her glow doesn’t come from a brand.

On her relationship with makeup in the beginning of her career:

I started at 20 years old in this ridiculously invasive world [the music business] in which everyone covered me in makeup and then threw me under tons of lights, so I’d sweat for two or three hours. It took me so long to finally say, ‘Whoa!’ Who am I under there? That is just my own personal quest.

On a woman’s right to choose everything, including her makeup:

I’m not a slave to makeup. I’m not a slave to not wearing makeup either. I get to choose at [any] given moment. That’s my right. I am all about a woman’s right to choose. I think a woman should do anything she wants as it relates to her face, her body, her health. Whatever mode of expression that empowers you, that’s what you should do. What I am not down for is this ridiculously high, unrealistic expectation about appearance that we as women are held to.

But on also not being anti-makeup:

I think makeup can be self-expression. I have no intention to shame anyone at all [who chooses to wear it]. No one should be ashamed by the way you choose to express yourself. And that’s exactly the point. However, if you want to do that for yourself, you should do that.

Things she is sick of:

One of the big ones is that I was so sick of the way women were forced to feel inadequate in many different circumstances or forced to feel insecure by the way we’re portrayed or the way we look. Another one: I am so annoyed at the way we force boys to be fake strong — don’t cry, don’t be soft. Let a boy be able to dance! Let a boy paint his nails. So a boy wants to paint his nails. Who cares! All these strange, oppressive ideas.

On where her glow comes from:

One thing I’ve heard more than ever is this glow that people refer to that I have. I kind of recognize that glow because I’ve begun to listen to myself inside. And I think there’s something really powerful that happens when you start to listen to yourself. It makes you feel more aware. In touch. More confident. I’m not more confident because I think I’m better than, but because I’ve been hearing myself more, listening to myself more. And that’s taken a little minute to arrive at that place. But there’s definitely something powerful about the way your inner feels that reflects on the outer, on your skin. That, to me, is real beauty.
Alicia Keys Really Believes in Inner Beauty and No Makeup