Alicia Keys may be best known for her soulful, passionate R&B music, but these days, it’s her face that’s garnering a lot of the attention. Keys has decided to ditch makeup and embrace her skin without covering its flaws or enhancing its beauty. In an essay she penned for the online newsletter Lenny Letter, the singer and songwriter explained why she’s no longer “censoring” herself with concealer, pulling her big hair back into a bun or playing by anyone else’s rules.
“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 took the lead and the world followed suit. There are nearly 13 million posts on Instagram with the hashtag #nomakup. There are more than 31 million tutorials on YouTube for “no makeup makeup looks” that use makeup products to mimic perfect skin without looking like you’ve put anything on. Dotti, the one-named woman behind Keys’ stellar complexion, revealed her skincare secrets to W Magazine so mere mortals like ourselves can step out from behind the foundation and embrace the skin we’re in.
Dotti told W that one of the secrets to Keys’ seemingly-perfect, makeup-free skin can be found right in your freezer: ice. She claims that “ice work” and massaging Keys’ skin with a freezing cold jade roller brings blood flow to the skin’s surface and increases its tightness. The science seems to be against her on this point, however. A study of blood flow and bone metabolism of knee joints published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showed that after 20 minutes covered in a chilled ice pack, decreases of about 38.4 percent in arterial blood flow and 25.8 percent in soft tissue blood flow was observed.
Freezing cold may, however, tighten the skin. A study published in Lasers In Surgery and Medicine used an infrared device with a contact cooling element to treat loose skin. After 2 treatments with four weeks between treatments, 23 percent of patients reported mild improvement of their laxity, 15 percent reported moderate improvement and 54 percent reported significant improvement. Three months after their last treatment, 41% were still deemed to show positive results.
Cucumbers have long been used in the world of skincare and spa treatments. Placed over the eyes of a woman slathered in a green, gunky face mask with a towel wrapped around her hair, they’ve almost become a spa day trope. For good reason, too. In one study, a cucumber extract emulsion showed bleaching and moisturizing effects, as well as a decrease in sebum production. They also contain vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals, suppresses skin pigmentation, breaks down melanin and triggers collagen production, thereby increasing skin’s firmness. Dotti doesn’t go the “cucumber slices over eyes” route on Keys’ skin. Rather she grates the vegetable to a fine pulp, then spreads it over Key’s eye area, never going above the brow bone or below the bone under her eye. She says this draws heat out of the skin, bringing blood flow to the top.
Dotti, like much of the skincare world, is all about the oils, too. She touts jojoba oil as a moisturizer similar to skin’s natural sebum. One patent calls jojoba oil a natural product, “characterized by being non-irritant and non-allergic to skin and mucous membrane.” The patent boasts its lubricant, moisturizing and soothing properties as well as being antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. A preparation of the oil can be used to treat some skin conditions, like acne. Be careful, however, not to go overboard on oils if you already have oily skin.
Who doesn’t love a good face mask? Dotti uses them regularly on Keys to keep her skin looking fresh. Face masks deliver bursts of beneficial ingredients in high concentrations to your skin in one fell swoop. There are myriad masks to choose from, which provides a perfect opportunity to really focus on your skin’s immediate needs. Feeling a little dry? Try a cream-based mask or a sheet mask with moisturizing ingredients. Clay masks can pull dirt out of your pores and leave skin calm and refreshed. Exfoliating masks will slough off dead skin, leaving your face glowing and soft.
Dotti admits that Keys might be wearing just a little bit of makeup when she’s serving as judge on The Voice…maybe some individual false lashes or a little bit of brow definer. A touch of tanning serum or some mattifier, perhaps. No matter how much makeup you chose to wear or avoid, there’s no substitute for healthy, well maintained skin.