Keys once wore makeup in an attempt to "be perfect."
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Alicia Keys wearing black suit against a blue and purple gradient background
Credit: Getty Images

Alicia Keys went on a no-makeup journey in 2016, going fresh-faced on red carpets at a time when full-coverage foundation and heavy contouring were dominating makeup trends. Now, Keys has opened up about what inspired the decision and her relationship with makeup today.

In a new video on Instagram announcing the debut of makeup products in the singer's beauty brand Keys Soulcare, Keys explains that there was a time when others' beauty standards influenced her approach to makeup. "I definitely have been on my own self-discovery journey for sure," she says in the video. "I felt like I had to please people, I had to be perfect — I definitely thought I had to be perfect. I was holding onto all these kind of standards of beauty." (Related: Alicia Keys Just Shared the Naked Body-Love Ritual She Does Every Morning)

She shared additional details about this period of her life, around the time when she first started performing at 16, in a recent interview with People. "I was in a new universe that I didn't understand," she told the publication. "It was full of anxiety, pressure and stress and my skin just got worse and worse. I continued to have to hide it, and I did my best to cover it because people can be so nasty. After a while, I began to feel that I wasn't beautiful if I didn't have makeup."

In an effort to let go of those beauty standards, she made the switch to her no-makeup lifestyle. "As you may have seen, I definitely have rebelled, and I had to go all the way over there in order to just find my voice," she says in her recent video, gesturing to a distant space off-screen. "To discover who I wanted to be and how I wanted to be. And you get to decide what makes you, you. I get to create my own beauty standards. So that might be fresh-faced, that might be full-wattage — whatever that is, it's whatever feels good for you." (Related: Alicia Keys Has Been Using This $7 Beauty Product for Years)

Now, Keys has returned to wearing makeup, using it in ways that feel right to her. In her recent Instagram post, she demonstrates a natural look with the products from her new collection: a cheek tint, tinted lip balm, and brow gel — all of which she describes as "the bridge between skin care and color." At the opposite end of the spectrum, her makeup artist Ayako Yoshimura incorporated each into Keys' 2022 Met Gala makeup, pairing them with rhinestone-studded winged eyeliner.

Keys' hope is that Keys Soulcare customers will also use the products on their own terms, according to her post. "You can build it up, break it down," she says in her video. "However you're feeling, don't forget you do you."