Ditching make-up can be a revolutionary act, but it’s also really not that big a deal

Who cares if Alicia Keys went without it at the VMAs

On Sunday night Alicia Keys went to the VMAs without any makeup on. And everyone lost their minds.

Amid the thousands of thinkpieces hastily written in the aftermath of her appearance, Keys was ruthlessly mocked for her choice to go au-natural – one commenter recommended “just a little concealer next time” – and, in a classic can’t-win-either-way moment, she was also called “anti-makeup” for it. It’s fairly obvious that the whole thing is more than a little ridiculous.

Not wearing make-up shouldn’t be a big deal, but when someone in the public eye does it it can be seen as a revolutionary act. Alicia Keys wasn’t shaming women who choose to can contour the sharpest angles known to man or nail a cat-eye flick in seconds, she was just choosing not to wear it, saying she shouldn’t have to. She was there to celebrate her talent, not to be judged for her appearance. We spoke to other girls who like Alicia Keys, Adele and a Nigerian bride who went viral after going without make-up on her wedding day, had ditched cosmetics. This is what they had to say about a life free of foundation, eyeliner and bronzer.

Eleni Mitzali, journalist

I used to wear makeup every day in high school and college. Not a lot but always enough to cover up any pimples, which throughout the years ranged from a few on a good day to me not wanting to leave the house on a bad day. However, it was my sister who suffered from more severe acne who didn’t bother to cover it up that was the true inspiration.

Women shouldn’t have to feel like they need to cover anything about themselves up. Alicia Keys doesn’t give a fuck and no girl should – makeup or no makeup.


Samantha Feinberg, Princeton

I actually just recently did this in-the-woods no-makeup photo shoot with my friend who’s a photographer.

I think that while wearing makeup is a form of self-expression, like a type of art, the same principles apply to not wearing makeup as well. Every person is a work of art whether they use makeup to accentuate their features or not. There is absolutely no reason why women should be held to a standard higher than men in regards to makeup. If a woman doesn’t wear makeup, it’s treacherous- it’s shocking not to wear makeup. Yet when a man wears makeup, he’s picked on.

It’s a ridiculous double standard that I’m just not willing to accept. You don’t need to wear makeup to feel confident and beautiful, and you definitely don’t need to not wear makeup to feel good about yourself either. Some days I wake up and put on a full face of makeup. Other days I go to class bare-faced, and I carry the same level of confidence as when I wear makeup. What I’ve learned is the level of makeup you wear doesn’t define you- it’s the person underneath.


Livi Brooks-McLaughlin, Bristol

Sometimes you’ve got to wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and just accept what you actually look like. Stop caring about what others may think and start accepting the flaws.


Caroline Phinney, journalist

Once a tomboy, always a tomboy. I like makeup, but I also don’t always feel super feminine. I feel empowered when I take off my makeup and wear clothing that is less gendered. But if makeup is your kryptonite – then shit, go for that too.


Gigi Gupte, Maryland

I honestly feel very ugly without make up on but I’ve realized it’s OK not to feel pretty all the time. I stopped worrying about how I look so much, and going makeup free helped. I realized I was more comfortable. I could rub my eyes. I didn’t have to worry about removing it at night. I could sweat at the gym and not have mascara everywhere. Plus ever since I cut down on make up, my skin has improved a lot.


If you would like to contribute to our make-up free movement email roisin@thetab.com with a picture and some words and we can add you in.