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Alicia Keys’ beauty and style evolution

How the singer's look has changed from her debut to the #nomakeup period

Alicia Keys’ beauty and style evolution How the singer's look has changed from her debut to the #nomakeup period

Alicia Keys is one of the most beloved and popular artists of recent years. Since her debut in 2001, she has sold over 40 million singles, more than 35 million albums worldwide and won 15 Grammy Awards.  With her powerful voice and her sound mixing R&B, soul, funky and pop, she has created unforgettable hits such as Fallin', No One or Empire State of Mind. What conquered the millions of fans, however, was not only her talent, but the ability to combine music, beauty and soul. There's something about Alicia that makes her seem genuine, naturally nice, somewhat like the friend we all want to have. Her choice to wear no makeup and other socially-imposed elements to show her most intimate and somehow vulnerable self only further amplifies this sense of closeness with the audience. 

On January 25, Alicia turns 40 and we celebrate her by looking at how the singer's look has changed from the early 2000s to now.



The no makeup philosophy Alicia Keys is following since 2016 also extends to her hair. It is, in fact, common to see the singer with her hair natural, with well-defined and voluminous curls framing her face. The other hairstyle she prefers is the braid. Although over the years, the star has often changed her look, going from a bob to a pixie cut, from bangs to long and very straight hair, since the early days she has never stopped wearing cornrows, fishtail braids and bubble braids. A choice, often combined with ornamental details such as beads, wrap-around and baby hair, that has a precise meaning, as she herself has explained:

I've always been proud of wearing braids and I love learning about the power of hair. I've always felt royal when I wear braids. There's something so beautiful about the Blackness of it, about my African ancestry that I just feel truly connected to. - And she added - I read a book once that was our story [and history] through hair and through braids, and I learnt how in each tribe, your position was actually told through the style in which you wore your hair; and we should accept the uniqueness of it.



A few months ago, Alicia launched her skincare and wellness line called Keys Soulcare, but the singer's interest in a different kind of beauty, focused on a balance between body and soul. It all started in 2016, when she decided to embrace the #nomakeup trend, launching a real revolution among the stars. The turning point was the cover of Here, her sixth album, shot by Paola Kudaci who asked her to pose completely natural, with bare skin, sprinkled with freckles, and voluminous curls surrounding her face. In that moment, after a bit of uneasiness, Alicia not only felt "stronger, more powerful, free and beautiful" than ever, but she also developed a deep rejection of the image of a perfect woman imposed by society, which forces women to adhere to often impossible standards and to hide behind makeup. 

I wrote a list of all the things that I was sick of. - Wrote the star in a letter published on Lenny Letter, the blog edited by Lena Dunham - 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. 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. I don't want to cover anything up anymore. 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.

Since then Keys cut out the unnecessary, following a beauty routine developed by her makeup artist Dotti and based on the use of ice-effect jade roll, which draw blood to the surface, flushing the tissues, minimizing pores and stimulating the skin's natural luminosity; enzyme and cucumber pulp masks; and cleansing jojoba oil.  When she's on stage or on TV, she adds to these products: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer; Vita Liberata's Self Tanning Anti Age Serum; or Mally's Ever Colour Poreless Face Definer Mattifier to even out and brighten the complexion.

Currently, Alicia doesn't use makeup anymore, but, until a few years ago, she enjoyed playing, sometimes exaggerating a bit, with mascara; eyeliner to recreate a Cleopatra style; eye shadows, often metallic silver or in shades of brown, to emphasize the look with smokey eyes; and fuchsia or bright red lipsticks.



The early 2000s will certainly never be remembered as an example of style and elegance. In case you still have any doubts, you just need to take a look at some of the looks sported in that era by Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears to figure it out. Like her colleagues, at the beginning of her career, Alicia Keys also gave us a series of outfits that were anything but cool. The problem? The love for animal prints, leather pants and jackets, patchwork denim and crop tops with lace details, combined with the ability to mix these elements together in the worst possible way. Growing up, Fallin''s star opted for long dresses in bright colors, electric blue, yellow, red or green garments that, sadly, instead of enhancing her shape and giving her a glamorous diva allure, aged her. As often happens to people, it took Alicia a while to find the perfect style for her. Thanks to the advice of stylist Jason Bolden,  since she began her no-makeup phase, her wardrobe has also started to reflect her true self. Today, crop tops, which remain Keys' fashion essentials, are joined by jumpsuits, power suits with oversized jackets like the purple one Prabal Gurung wore to the 2019 Billboard Women In Music Awards, brightly colored maxi dresses like the silver sequin-covered Versace chosen for 2020 Grammys, and athleisure pieces.