Alicia Keys rocked up to the BET Awards sans makeup. Bravo.

“Harsh.” “Judgemental.” These are the words Alicia Keys used recently to describe her start in the music industry.

In a recent essay she wrote for Lena Dunham’s e-newsletter Lenny, the 35-year-old said this pressure led to her worrying constantly about being photographed without makeup on.

So overpowering was her “insecurity” she vowed to ditch makeup completely.

The 15-time Grammy Award winner held true to this promise at yesterday’s BET Awards, walking the red carpet in a silky black jumpsuit and some of the most fabulous gold and black earrings I’ve ever seen.

Alicia Keys

Image: Getty.

She also didn’t have a shred of makeup on. No mascara. No light slick of gloss. No thin layer of BB cream. And she looked gorgeous. Radiant.

Keys wrote in her Lenny essay that she initially fell into going makeup-free on her latest album cover, committing to it fully later on.

“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 [the photographer], ‘Now?! Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real,” she wrote.

Stepping out... ???? #BETAwards #InCommon

A photo posted by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on


“I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt… that's how this whole #nomakeup thing began… ‘Cause 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.”

While I can honestly say I’d rather go on a date with Donald Trump (ughhhh) than take to any carpet of the crimson variety without the contents of my vanity bag slathered over my face, you’ve got to hand it to Keys.


Sadly, in a society that deems a woman’s made-up face as “done” and a bare face as sloppy, Keys’ move is a pretty big one.

Think about it: how many female celebrities have you seen sans foundation on the red carpet in recent times? How many female celebrities have you seen on Instagram without any form of brightening and tweaking via FaceTune? How many have you seen on magazine covers without an overwhelming amount of retouching(Post continues after gallery.)

The answer for all of these is: barely any.

Rarely do we see a woman giving the middle finger to makeup at a prestigious event that’s going to receive a tonne of press.

Hundreds of photographers clickety-clicking at you from every angle — up, down, side, behind, front — and there’s not a Lark or Clarendon filter in sight to save you.

It’s for this reason that I applaud Keys. She’s comfortable. She’s beautiful. As sad as it is in 2016, not wearing makeup to an awards ceremony really does deserves a round of applause.

This is not to say we all need to rush home and gleefully pour our bottle of CoverGirl foundation into the bin — if, like me, you’re a woman who genuinely loves wearing makeup and find it to be a fun ritual, experience even — carry the heck on.

But for those who feel stifled by it or feel pressured to wear it, Keys really is leading the way.

Do you wear makeup often?