NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Alicia Keys presents onstage during the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Photo: Jason Kempin
Photo: Jason Kempin

Why is Alicia Keys choosing to be makeup free?

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But why is she ditching the beauty products?

She wrote about it in a column for Lenny's Letter:

Before I started my new album, I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. And one was how much women are brainwashed into feeling like we have to be skinny, or sexy, or desirable, or perfect. One of the many things I was tired of was the constant judgment of women. The constant stereotyping through every medium that makes us feel like being a normal size is not normal, and heaven forbid if you're plus-size. Or the constant message that being sexy means being naked.

All of it is so frustrating and so freakin' impossible...

Keys said she got to a point where she asked herself to truly consider who she was and the kind of person she wanted to be.

The truth is … I was really starting to feel ... 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.

But it wasn't until she went to a photo shoot for her song "In Common" that she approached the idea of embracing her looks without makeup.

I'd just come from the gym, had a scarf under my baseball cap, and the beautiful photographer Paola ... 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!!'

The singer-songwriter said that initially, she wasn't comfortable with the idea of photographing without makeup, but eventually, she agreed. She said the result was a feeling of freedom.

I felt powerful because my initial intentions realized themselves. My desire to listen to myself, to tear down the walls I built over all those years, to be full of purpose, and to be myself! The universe was listening to those things I’d promised myself, or maybe I was just finally listening to the universe, but however it goes, that’s how this whole #nomakeup thing began. Once the photo I took with Paola came out as the artwork for my new song 'In Common,' it was that truth that resonated with others who posted #nomakeup selfies in response to this real and raw me....

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.

Fans and critics responded to the Grammy-winner's decision to commit to a makeup-free lifestyle with mixed reviews.

But the 35-year-old singer-songwriter said her aim isn't to criticize those who choose to wear makeup.

"Me choosing to be makeup-free doesn't mean I'm anti-makeup," she wrote on Twitter. 

Read Keys' full column here.

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