Alicia Keys has dared to bare her au naturel face for nearly a year now, but the 15-time Grammy winner opted for a touch of makeup for her Allure photo shoot.
Although she appears make-up free on the cover, Keys did choose to wear a touch of paint for the inside images. Keys enlisted makeup artist Dotti to apply a teal cat eye in one photo, black lines under her eyes in another and streaks of vivid purple paint shooting of the corners of her eyes in the final picture.
"I'm not a slave to makeup. I'm not a slave to not wearing makeup either," she tells Allure. "I get to choose at [any] given moment. That's my right."
Keys' stance on makeup stems from her passion for self-expression, but the decision didn't stem from radicalism. Instead, the "No One" songstress found herself sweating under bright lights and breaking out all the time and realized enough was enough.
"I started at 20 years old in this ridiculously invasive world in which everyone covered me in makeup and then threw me under tons of lights, so I'd sweat for two or three hours," she says. "It took me so long to finally say, 'Whoa! Who am I under there?' That is just my own personal quest."
Some critics have sneered at her decision, claiming if everyone had perfect skin like she does they'd all go makeup-free, but Keys says perfection isn't the point. (She also reveals she has struggled with acne for years.)
"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," Keys says. "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 even Keys admits that doing away with superficiality on the outside has, ironically, made her more beautiful than ever.
"I think there's something really beautiful about what resonates from within us. 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," she says. "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."