Have you seen Alicia Keys lately? Because the girl looks bomb. Not that she hasn’t always, but right now feels like a bit of a moment for her. No one answered yesterday’s Open Thread by just posting this photo of her (yet), but they may as well have. Alicia Keys is summer beauty goals.
And I think she knows it, too. Back in June the 35-year-old singer penned a personal essay for Lenny Letter, attributing her new, #nomakeup (hashtag theirs, not ours) look to a shoot she did with Paola Kudacki fresh from the gym. “My face was totally raw,” she writes. “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 photoshoot look. So I asked her, 'Now?! Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real!!'"
Tom’s said it before and I’ll say it again: Paola Kudacki is a genius. But I’d argue Alicia’s fresh, clean look isn’t so far from her original brand of realness. If anything, feels more on brand then a lot of what she’s done in the past. To confirm (and also just to chat), I spoke with Dotti, Alicia’s longtime friend and makeup artist who was also on set that day with Paola. For reference, Dotti did that cover of Allure where Bella Hadid looks so nice and natural. If there’s a woman who can make you look like the best version of yourself while simultaneously making you look like you’ve never even heard of makeup, it’s Dotti. So sit back, press play on “In Common,” and read on for product recommendations and a bit more on why skin will forever and always be in.
So, Alicia looks so good, right?
It’s a beautiful approach, isn’t it? It’s very elegant and very strong and very powerful, do you know what I mean? And you get to see more of her. She’s always had incredible eyes and freckles and things like that, but we get to relish in that now. And people don’t realize how young she still is! People forget because she’s been around for ages, but taking the makeup away reminds people of how young she is for some reason.
How did you start working together?
Six years ago, we met on set on an Italian Vogue story and she was actually pregnant with her first child, Egypt. We just gelled from the very beginning. I always eat very healthy—I’m a raw vegan person—so I gave her some of the food I was eating and there was a natural bonding there. We’re both very spiritual people.
What does Alicia’s new beauty direction say to you?
The look for this album, in my eyes, is just her growing as a woman and being more comfortable in and owning her beauty. She’s very strong with who she is. So the pared-down look was just the way to go. And it goes so well with her current sound because she goes out there on stage and she’s exploring and experimenting. It’s about enjoying life and just having fun.
Any secrets to achieving that glow if you’re not Alicia Keys?
One piece to note about her is that she is incredibly into acupuncture, exercise, and healthy eating. That is a huge part of the condition of her skin—when you look after yourself on the interior, it automatically shines through on the exterior. I’m a huge believer of that and so is she. And in a way, that’s part of what she delivers when she sits down in my chair each time. Of course, there are a lot of elements to maintain in that—and people will find ways to not keep it all up—but they’re all important. When you see how good you feel and how good you look, not even in a vanity way, it just empowers you to live a healthier lifestyle and do more with it. I always want to deal with acne or things like that by addressing diet and stress and things like that instead of just covering it up. Alicia isn’t raw or vegan or anything, but she looks after her diet and eats in a very balanced way, which a lot of people do when you’ve got a lot on your plate to deal with. What goes into your body helps your mind and your spirit.
What’s your routine when she sits down in your makeup chair?
When she does come to me for makeup, I always work on bringing the texture of her skin to the front. And also with her freckles! I just enhance what she brings to me. To start, we might do a mask to get some moisture in the skin. We do this lip treatment as well from Éminence—it’s three steps, so it’s nice to do if we have time. Éminence also has a nice rosehip mask that she’ll do, or we’ll do an SK-II mask. When we’re done, I do her lips with balms from 3Lab or Lanolips. I like both of those a lot because it’s the hardest thing to keep the lips hydrated and protected and they both work so well.
Even down to her eyebrows, we try to keep it natural. I’ll cut individual false eyelashes and use them on the eyebrow to have that realness. A lot of filled-in brows look like ink on skin, and then the light hits it and it looks sweaty or not real. There are ways to have a really heavy brow and look phenomenal, but in certain circumstances, it just looks more real to actually add to the texture. It makes you look younger!
Instead of foundation, we do a skin tint. There’s this Vita Liberata Self-Tanning Anti Age Serum and it’s great when you love your skin but you want to add that hue of life to it. It just makes the skin look more alive—it gives a tan, but in a very natural way. A very golden hue.
And I have a thing for freckles. I’m obsessed with them. There’s this great felt pen by Anastasia in Universal Light and Universal Dark that helps bring them out in a very natural-looking way. If I bring any color to the cheeks, it’s just to highlight that youthfulness. Blush really helps bring a glow that people don’t realize is a little bit of makeup. The products I use change around a lot, but I do recommend Tarte’s stain. What you’re left with is the look of blood coming up to the skin like right after you’ve been exercising. For shade, we mix it up and she’s very lucky in that way because she can wear the blue reds, but she can also wear orange. She’s got a great palette.
There’s a beautiful brand called MV Organic Skincare and they make beautiful oils and rosewater. Sometimes I use the Instant Revival with the rose mist as a treatment. That alone makes her look really glowy and beautiful. Because when you strip back all of the makeup, you begin to realize how youthful you actually are. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I love doing crazy, full-on makeup. But there is room for both. I happen to have a passion for skin. Not in a Hannibal Lecter way, but I definitely have a passion for it. [Laughs]
—as told to ITG
Photo via Getty.
Next up: Makeup artist Wendy Rowe shows how to create Gigi Hadid's glowing, editorial, no-makeup look here.