Alicia Keys said that she wore makeup to live up to peoples’ expectations and when she ditched makeup three years ago, she didn’t recognize her face.
“I was definitely frustrated with a lot of things in the world,” Keys said of the decision during an appearance on the latest episode of the Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk” with Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield Norris, and Willow Smith.
The 38-year-old singer continued: “I had a paper [where] I wrote down all the things that pissed me off … I’m pissed off that if I’m not so put together and I walk outside, someone says to me, ‘You look tired.'”
“I’m not tired,” Keys continued. “I’m chilling. This is my face. But I didn’t even know that, because I didn’t even know my face. I didn’t even know my own face. And when I took off all the stuff and I looked into the mirror, I didn’t know that person.”
The Grammy-winning artist, who rose to fame with songs like “Fallin'” and “If I Ain’t Got You,” went on to say that she would gasp at her reflection and be shocked by older photos of herself because “it was that drastic.”
“There was just so much,” she said. “I was realizing that I wanted to know myself more.”
Keys added that she used to pile on makeup because she got into a habit of “succumbing to whatever peoples’ expectations of me are.”
The “No One” singer opened up about her choice to go bare-faced in an essay shared on Lenny Letter in May 2016.
“I started, more than ever, to become a chameleon,” Keys wrote. “Never fully being who I was, but constantly changing so all the ‘they’s’ would accept me.”
She said that while working on her studio album titled “Here” (released in November 2016), she wrote a song about the pressure that women face, titled “When a Girl Can’t Be Herself.”
“I was really starting to feel like that — that, as I am, I was not good enough for the world to see,” Keys said.
The singer went on to say that she’d feel “insecure” and “superficial,” especially at the thought of someone taking and posting a photo of her without makeup.
When she had a photo shoot for the “Here” album and track “In Common,” Keys was encouraged by photographer Paolo Kudacki to take the images with her natural look.
“It was just a plain white background, me and the photographer intimately relating, me and that baseball hat and scarf and a bunch of invisible magic circulating,” she said.
She continued: “And I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.”
Watch the video below (Alicia Keys talks about going makeup-free at 12:50).