Why Alicia Keys Is Finally Choosing Self-Care: "I Didn't Value Myself Enough"

James Bailey
A close-up portrait of Alicia Keys, who is finally choosing Self-Care, with her hand on her forehead...

Want to know a secret? Before becoming a beauty editor, I was terrified that I couldn't do the job — because I didn't actually like wearing makeup. (Don't sue me.) But when Alicia Keys, founder of Keys Soulcare, made a bold decision to stop frequenting red carpet appearances and performances with a full face of glam, I felt empowered to not succumb to pressure. So when the news of Keys' lifestyle brand broke, I didn't expect to see multi-pan palettes or goopy lip glosses among the launches. And while, yes, there are plenty of skin care products among the first "Ritual" (like an Obsidian Facial Roller and the Skin Transformation Cream), the messaging behind the goods is more wholistic than surface.

"In every care space — skin, body, and hair — I'd love for us to have conversations about assisting us in finding ourselves," Keys tells a small group of reporters on Nov. 30 via Zoom. "This is really about this conversation that we're having about how we're feeding and nurturing ourselves. There's this thing with women, specifically, that we're supposed to go until we can't stand up anymore. That we're supposed to be drained and damn near dying to say 'Wait, something is the matter.' That's just wrong. We've been taught to be martyrs. As long as our kids and husbands are amazing, it's okay that we're suffering. I despise this. I'd love to see that narrative be re-thought. This idea that we keep talking about of rituals and small moments where you can say a mantra and light a candle is getting in the concept without guilt. It's preventative. It's what I'm going to do before I lose my mind."

James Bailey

Prior to creating the brand, the Grammy Award-winner, 39, actually considered herself pretty liberated. "I thought I was such a feminist. I thought that I was empowered and powerful... all these things. But I realized I was slowly oppressed by society's views of beauty. I subscribed to these ideals that I'm supposed to look a certain way to be considered beautiful," she says. And despite writing empowering ballads like "A Woman's Worth," "Superwoman," and "Girl On Fire," the mom of two continuously put herself last. "I didn't value myself enough to put myself first. Everyone's needs, desires, and visions were more important than mine. It was a real understanding on what I was dealing with, and I had to create limitations for myself," she says. "So on a surface level, I wanted to create a solution for that."

That's not to say that Keys didn't have "surface" reasons for wanting to dip her toe in the celebrity beauty brand space, though. "I always knew I wanted to create something with skin care," she reveals. "[In my twenties and early thirties], I was always on somebody's damn television screen and I felt so embarrassed that I had bumps on my face all the time. I used to ask myself, 'At what point does this not become an issue anymore?'" And with the help of Dr. Renée Snyder, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, Keys made sure that the products like the cream incorporated renewing ingredients like bakuchiol, malachite, ceramides, and replenishing hyaluronic acid.

Keys Soulcare

But the work isn't meant to stop with your routine. Keys tells us that she's a big fan of baths ("Water is very transformative"), journaling ("It clears a space in my head"), and even burning ceremonies ("There's something satisfying about writing something down, burning it, and letting it go"). The mom of two also believes in the power of the tongue, and often recites a simple three-word mantra whenever she's feeling low. "'You deserve this' is something I use when I'm feeling depleted," she says. "Sometimes I feel confused and don't see clearly, and don't know what my decision is or choice is. This one helps me call those feelings in and helps me receive what I need."

Shop Keys Soulcare's first Ritual below.

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