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Alicia Keys Says Clothes and Makeup Were Her ‘Armor’ Before She Learned ‘We Are Perfect as We Are’

Feature Alicia Keys Says Clothes and Makeup Were Her Armor No Makeup
Alicia KeysNicholas Hunt/FilmMagic

Alicia Keys is opening up about what true beauty means to her.

In an interview with The Cut published on Monday, November 27, Keys, 42, reflected on how growing up in the music industry has impacted her understanding of beauty — and why it led her to stop wearing makeup in 2016.

“I think it was just the awareness of how much we subscribed to social standards of beauty, and I didn’t really think of that before,” she told the publication.

“It opened my eyes to how I didn’t feel comfortable or beautiful if I didn’t have my armor on, and if I didn’t have all my face and hair and pretty things and nice clothes on that somehow I was less than beautiful or just less than. I realized, like, Whoa, what’s underneath all that? It allowed me to have a conversation with myself about how I wanted to feel and even what I wanted to let go of.”

Alicia Keys

Related: See Alicia Keys’ Best No-Makeup Makeup Looks

Keys went on to detail the liberation she felt once she decided to “take off the armor,” which she described as “protection.”

“I’ve been able to just recognize that we are perfect as we are and that doesn’t mean you don’t have days that you want to be different ways,” she said, adding that it now no longer matters to her whether she’s in her sweats or dressed to the nines; she’s just being herself.

Alicia Keys Says Clothes and Makeup Were Her Armor No Makeup
Alicia Keys Presley Ann/FilmMagic

Later in the interview, Keys touched on society’s warped concept of aging as something negative. Instead of viewing getting older as something to be feared and avoided, Keys chooses to view it as empowering — and understands that aging is as much about mental and emotional development as it is about physical changes.

“I think you get more beautiful as you get older, too,” Keys said. “Your heart opens more. You have a quality about you that is so much stronger in a way. I really know that you become more beautiful as you recognize these things about yourself, as you become wiser, as you become older, as you become more yourself, who you actually are.”

Alicia Keys Grammys 2020 Looks

Related: See All 5 Looks Alicia Keys Wore to Host the 62nd Annual Grammys

Keys is back to wearing makeup again, but now uses it as a means to empower herself and highlight her natural beauty, rather than to hide and cover herself up.

She executed this philosophy in 2020, launching a beauty line called Keys Soulcare that includes both skincare and makeup products. In an interview with Glamour UK published in November of that year, Keys said that launching the line was “a dream come true.”

“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 told the publication at the time. “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.”

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