Alicia Keys won’t pan makeup, though she doesn’t wear it. How refreshing!

2016 MTV Video Music Awards - ShowNEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Alicia Keys speaks onstage during the 2016 MTV Music Video Awards at Madison Square Gareden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

‘I can only imagine that after years of shellac-thick makeup designed to look good on camera it would be very refreshing to face the world with a product-free face.’ Photograph: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Many words and slideshows are devoted to what the stars wore in the days after any major awards show, but the biggest fashion story coming out of the weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards is about what someone chose not to sport: Alicia Keys went makeup-free.

Earlier this year, since publishing a piece in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter about being ‘sick’ of wearing makeup, Keys briefly became the conspicuous face of a movement that she’s hashtagged #nomakeup. But in the aftermath of the VMAs, her most high-profile barefaced appearance, Keys has resisted pressure to reinforce a strongly anti-makeup stance, tweeting: “Y’all, choosing to be makeup free doesn’t mean I’m anti-makeup. Do you!

The truth is that many of us dare to do that every day: whether we’re stroking multiple layers of mascara onto our eyelashes or going out in the world with nothing between our skin and the air. Makeup is not the enemy or the necessity: pressure to conform is.

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