Alicia Keys has eschewed make-up in a quest to get in touch with her authentic self, but how did beauty junkie Vicki Notaro feel when she faced up to her own bare face?

DESPITE being largely absent from the charts over the past couple of years, Alicia Keys is still a household name. 

Known for her rousing music, stunning voice, and songwriting talent, she’s a woman that’s no stranger to magazine covers, glitzy photoshoots, and red carpets. 

However, lately she’s taken quite a revolutionary stance — Keys has decided to ditch make-up for the most part, and go au naturel.

It’s perhaps no coincidence she made the revelation with a new record to promote, but for whatever reason, she’s decided she doesn’t want to be photographed caked with beauty products.

After a career of being primped to within an inch of her life for appearance and gigs, she says she’s done with slapping on the slap. 

She told The Times that “it’s so distracting, all this fake perfection”.

Keys says so much of what we consume is carefully constructed and polished and she thinks people are over it. 

She’s taken her epiphany to social media using the hashtag #nomakeup, and millions have responded with their own bare-faced selfies and messages of encouragement.

Yet while I applaud Keys’ comfort in her own skin and apparent self-confidence, I’m not about to join her in avoiding the beauty counter — and that’s because I adore make-up. 

Alicia Keys with and without make up.
Alicia Keys with and without make up.

You could never call me a natural beauty: I have hair extensions, my eyebrows have been semi-permanently tattooed on, and I have a fortnightly standing appointment at my favourite nail bar. 

I adore fake tan, love false eyelashes, and when I leave the house without my signature eyeliner flicks, people I know often do a double take or ask me if I’m under the weather.

My dressing-table at home is piled high with products and that’s the way I like it — I’m not even in to the “no make-up make-up” look because I love to look polished, contoured, and well-defined. 

Even at that, I don’t look particularly Dolly Parton-esque or like I could be comfortable among the cast of The Only Way Is Essex.

I’m not alone as a beauty aficionado.

We live in a world obsessed with make-up; platforms like Instagram have only encouraged women to pile on the slap in order to look picture perfect online. 

For some, selfie culture means every day is a potential photoshoot. 

Beauty bloggers like Tanya Burr and Pixiwoo have millions of followers, make-up artists like Joyce Bonelli and Lisa Eldridge have become celebrities in their own right, and A-listers are getting in on the beauty business, with the likes of Kylie Jenner, Eva Mendes, and Drew Barrymore releasing their own make-up lines.

I own three of Jenner’s infamous lip kits, a relatively new product on the scene that sells out every time her website restocks, and I paid a pretty penny for them to be shipped from the US, with no regrets.

Yet for the sake of this feature and to prove to myself that I could face my bare face, I decided to pose for the camera without the barrier I normally put up between myself and the lens — just to see what Keys and other woman get out of it. 

It’s one thing being make-up free at a festival or on holiday where being undone is part of the fun, but smiling for the camera in the knowledge that my less than flawless features will be captured by an unforgiving shutter would be undeniably frightening.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love to be able to leave the house without make-up and feel confident. 

Perhaps it’s easy enough for Keys to do it, with her flawless skin and gorgeous features, but I’m a woman who benefits hugely from the contents of my make-up bag. 

That said, even if my skin magically improved overnight, my eye bags disappeared, and my lashes grew long, black, and lustrous, I still wouldn’t completely ditch the slap. 

For me, it would be akin to foregoing a bra or underwear when leaving the house, something I just wouldn’t do.

While I applaud a woman’s right to choose on every level because that’s what being a feminist is about, I often do find the no-make-up brigade a bit smug. 

Utterly stunning actress Mila Kunis covers this month’s edition of US Glamour magazine, and appears on the back page without a scrap of make-up. She tells the publication it felt “fine” to be shot barefaced. 

“I don’t wear make-up,” she said. 

“I don’t wash my hair every day. It’s not something that I associate with myself. I commend women who wake up 30, 40 minutes early to put on eyeliner. I think it’s beautiful. I’m just not that person.”

Well, I am that person. Marilyn Monroe glamour and Brigitte Bardot’s pout are far more appealing to my eyes than an undone phizzog.

I also love when they choose not to wear make-up without making a song and dance of it, because that is the beauty of cosmetics — unlike plastic surgery, they’re temporary and allow us to express ourselves in countless ways. 

However, I do understand Keys’ desire to “peel back the layers” because in this day and age, it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s not in the media.

I’ll admit that all my courage and curiosity disappeared the second I whipped out my face wipes. 

As I sat watching my real face appear in the mirror from beneath the mask I paint on every day, I panicked. 

Not because it was hideous, but because wiping off my eyeliner and revealing my freckly nose made me feel vulnerable and childlike, and not in a good way. 

I guess I’ve always seen my slap as a symbol of my womanhood, an armour I put on that makes me feel strong.

I smiled for the camera, but I felt like a fraud; I guess for me, the made-up version of myself is the one I identify with most.

Yet I know there will be people out there who swear I look better and younger without my make-up. 

That just goes to show that beauty really is subjective, and often when faced with our true selves, we’re a very unkind beholder. 

I’m glad I have the choice to paint my face when I want to, but I’m also glad that this experience proves to me I’m not quite that vain. 

And OK, I’ll admit it — I even feel a bit smug after all.

Going au naturel

Beauty therapist Claudine King, who owns a salon on Dublin’s hip South William St, gives her recommendations for a flawless face without make-up:

Skin preparation for a non- makeup look is vital. The skin should always be well exfoliated and hydrated, and regular facials are important.

Exfoliate once a week at home; this is crucial to get rid of any excess dead skin and promote healthy skin renewal.

The yumi lash and perm tint creates a high curl on your natural lashes for up to 10 weeks. 

This treatment also includes a lash tint that will keep your lashes dark and noticeable so you won’t need to wear mascara.

An eyebrow shape and tint will leave you feeling incredibly fresh-faced and well groomed.

The precision of threading the brows helps to frame the face and adding a tint will define the eyes.

A day or night serum will help to keep your skin looking and feeling soft and smooth, and with all of the above covered, all you need is a little blusher and a tinted lip balm to help keep your lips moisturised with a hint of colour.


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