“It took me forever,” Alicia Keys reveals how she gets her skin to look this good

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Anna Pollitt
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Since the summer, Alicia Keys’ face has been a famously make-up free zone and now the singer has revealed the journey to a bare face hasn’t come easy.

Keys says it has taken her “forever” to achieve the naturally flawless look that’s becoming her trademark and was forced to make two key changes to go from having a face “full of bumps and pimples” to a clear, glowing complexion.

“It took me forever to get this skin,” the 35-year-old told Elle. “I mean, I know how it feels to have a face full of bumps and pimples. I lived through that in the public eye.

“But when I first got pregnant [with son Egypt, six] I started to eliminate dairy from my diet and drank a lot more water, which made a huge difference to my skin.”

When she first announced her commitment to ditching cosmetics, Keys wrote a candid essay for Lenny discussing how she used to feel “worried” if she left the house without wearing make-up, before she started “focusing on clarity and a deeper knowing of myself.”

“I don't want to cover up anymore,” she wrote. “Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”

Keys laughed off the idea she was on a crusade to encourage others to shun make-up, adding that she herself once felt pressured into wearing make-up by the music industry.

Alicia Keys talks about the empowering women in her life:

Keys’ make-up artist (you’ll see why she has one) Dotti, revealed last month to W Magazine the natural tricks she uses to keep the star’s skin looking flawless.


“We’re doing a lot of ice work to tighten skin, bring the blood to the surface,” she said. “To basically give it the pop that you need,” she says. “I stick a jade roller in ice, so it’s basically freezing when I roll it over her skin. I really, really work into all those areas where I want blood and water and energy brought to the surface.'”


“I’ll grate a full cucumber, then place the pulp no higher than her brow bone and no lower than her under-eye bone, not going near sensitive parts of the eye,” Dotti says. “If we’ve got time, I’ll put the pulp all over her face until it draws the heat out of the skin and bring the blood to the top.”

Oils and masks

Dotti recommends that even those prone to oily skin should embrace facial oils, and recommends MV Organic Skincare. She’s also a sucker for SK-II Facial Treatment Mask.

A dab of make-up

Okay, she’s vowed to stay on the cosmetics wagon but occasionally when the singer is filming The Voice, Dotti will dip into a select bag of tricks, including:

- filling the singer’s eyebrows with individual lashes

- enhancing her freckles with a brow pencil

- applying Vita Liberata Self Tanning Anti-Age Serum to her cheeks


Make-up tips from beauty icons

  • Kate Moss

    On lipstick: "My mouth is my favourite feature, which is probably why I love lipstick so much. I've always loved a red lip, but lately I've been really into nudes. I love lipstick.

    "It makes me feel more 'done'. I wear a beige lip in the day, but red when I'm going somewhere. I just slick it on, I don't bother with lip liner."

  • Rihanna

    On lipstick: "[Lipstick is] a major accessory that can change an outfit or even be the outfit. I love it - especially the red tones. For my first collaboration [with MAC] we did RiRi Woo, which was a matte, pigmented red and my fans really loved it."

  • Eva Longoria

    On foundation: "My makeup artist Elan Bongiorno taught me about the importance of blending. She really works the base in and blends colours, shadows and blush, so when people ask me what shade I'm wearing, I'm always like, 'about ten different things!'"

  • Blake Lively

    On eyeliner: "I like a very natural eye makeup look, but when I wear black eyeliner, I like to add a little dark navy pencil on the inner rim - it makes my blue eyes look electric."

  • Halle Berry

    On going make-up free: "When I'm not working, I don't really wear makeup. I think it's a good chance to give the skin a break.

    "I'm big on taking care of my skin so that I can go without makeup. I just grab and go, and what it looks like, it looks like."

  • Sofia Vergara

    On mascara: "For me, you can never have too much volume! I use three coats of mascara on my top lashes and one on the bottom. The best trick I have is to start as close to the base of lashes as you can - and then wiggle back and forth and move up and out through the lashes.

    "Using an eyelash curler also makes a huge difference. I clamp at the base of my top lashes and hold for five seconds on each eye before applying mascara."

  • Megan Fox

    On lipstick: "My signature look is red lipstick worn with plain eyes, so I apply a light foundation, then on my cheeks I use blush or sometimes the same lipstick that I'm wearing. Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Lipstick in 400, £25, contrasts well with my pale complexion and dark hair."

  • Thandie Newton

    On blusher: "My trusted Julie Hewett ‘Cheekie’ Cheek & Lip Shine is a blusher for all seasons.

    "It has an amazingly natural appearance – there’s no shimmer, only pigment and a gel like balm which is very stable and not greasy, so it doesn’t block the pores. It also doubles up as a lip stain."

  • Jennifer Aniston

    On products: "I like to have my favorite lip balm by Dr. Hauschka. I always have Fig lip liner by Estée Lauder, I’ve been using that pencil forever.

    "I really like this concealer pencil by La Femme, which is double ended, one side is a concealer and the other is a highlighter."

  • Sarah Jessica Parker

    On hair: "I like washing my hair with Bumble and bumble's Sunday Shampoo. It's about the only shampoo that gives my hair that squeaky clean feeling that I had as a child.

    "To condition, I use Kerastase Oleo-Relax Masque which isn't cheap, but it really works on my dry, over-styled hair."

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

    On hair: "I rub a mixture of honey and salt all over my body to moisturise and exfoliate. You wash it off and your skin is gorgeous.

    "Also, I love to eat an apple after a meal, just to cleanse my teeth – they always look polished afterwards."

  • Miranda Kerr

    On lipstick: "Revlon's Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato is a great shade of red that suits most skin tones. Its clever formula stays put so you don’t have to worry about smudging or bleeding.

    "I like to apply KORA Organics Lipbalm first to hydrate my lips while I'm doing the rest of my makeup. Then, a slick of Top Tomato is my last step."

  • Christina Hendricks

    On blusher: "I always have on blush, even when I'm not wearing anything else—it makes me look alive. It's the first thing I put on when I wake up, and he [husband Geoffrey Arend] just thinks I have naturally flushed cheeks!

    "I like Make Up For Ever cream blush; it blends into my skin really nicely."

  • Fan Bingbing

    On lipstick: "I always carry lip balm and lipstick. Lipstick is a very important beauty product because I find that lips are the most beautiful feature of anyone's face."

  • Kerry Washington

    On playing to your strengths: "It took me forever to allow my makeup artist to do bright red lips! Sometimes it takes someone saying to you, ‘Do you know how beautiful your lips are? You should try wearing red lipstick.

    "You can learn how to embrace your own unique beauty, celebrate your unique gifts and then have confidence around them."

  • Christina Aguilera

    On foundation: "My favourite foundation is Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Foundation. I love the creamy consistency, as my skin is rather dry. Plus it has wonderful coverage to hide any imperfections."

  • Olivia Wilde

    On blending: "My best makeup secret is learning to blend. I love using a sponge like a BeautyBlender and getting it damp first.

    "You end up using a lot less foundation if you dampen the sponge before you blend, and then you get kind of dewy. So, that's a good makeup artist secret!"

  • Jennifer Hudson

    On eyeliner: "Eyeliner shapes the eyes and gives it definition," says Jennifer Hudson's make-up artist Tia Danztler. "One reason we use it is because Jennifer has really thin lashes. The liner brings you to her eyes."

  • Diane Kruger

    On cover sticks: "I don’t like to wear too much makeup so I’ll often just do it myself. I learned all the tricks during my modeling years—like never use foundation all over, just use something to cover imperfections. I prefer to use cover sticks, like Secret Camouflage by Laura Mercier."

  • Eva Mendes

    On budget products: "My favorite cheap beauty product is baby powder. I use it on my hair to give it a dry tousled look. It works magic. Better than any dry shampoo out there.

    "Once you put a little bit on your roots and run it through your hair, make sure to shake it out so your hair doesn’t look white!"


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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant.