Take a stroll down any red carpet and you’ll overhear stars thanking their stylists and glam squads as often as they do their parents or their kids. But while full faces of makeup have become the standard when facing photographers, many female stars have embraced the natural look—and we don’t just mean opting for neutral tones. Whether they’re deliberately making a statement about beauty and aging standards or it’s just how they feel comfortable, these celebrities went makeup-free on the red carpet and looked stunning doing it.
Not only does three-time Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand eschew makeup for red carpets and major Hollywood events (like the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony, pictured above), she’s also been vocal about her anti-cosmetic surgery stance. In 2014, she told The New York Times that she hadn’t “mutated [herself] in any way” and was concerned with society’s (and the entertainment industry’s) obsession with the illusion of youth.
“We are on red alert when it comes to how we are perceiving ourselves as a species,” she said. “There’s no desire to be an adult. Adulthood is not a goal. It’s not seen as a gift.”
In 2016, musician Alicia Keys wrote an essay for Lenny Letter about why she decided to embrace bare-faced beauty and hoped to start a #nomakeup revolution.
“‘Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore,” the star wrote. “Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”
Since then, Keys can frequently be seen posing for photographers sans makeup, as she did at WE Day in 2017.
In 2015, Refinery29 asked Jennifer Garner for the best piece of beauty advice she’d ever received.
“It’s not advice, it’s more an example,” the actor answered. “My mom is the woman who is the least marked by vanity of anyone I know—but in the best possible way. She just isn’t focused on it, and doesn’t do makeup and hair—she’s just herself. So, [seeing] that allowed me to grow up without feeling like [beauty] was something I needed to do.”
Garner added that her own regular makeup routine is pretty basic, sometimes concealer only. And while she goes more glam for most carpets, as you can see in this shot from the Telluride Film Festival in 2016, Garner also does makeup-free posing too.
“The wonderful thing about makeup for me is that a little goes a very long way,” Tilda Swinton told Harper’s Bazaar in 2015. “So the possibilities of making new faces with it—in my work—are pretty tantalizing.”
If you’re a fan of hers, you know how true this statement rings. While Swinton uses makeup and prosthetics to disappear into roles (see: Suspiria, Only Loves Left Alive, and Snowpiercer), the actor uses a light touch when she’s out as herself, like when she attended this Venice Film Festival screening of her film A Bigger Splash in 2015.
Model and singer Paris Jackson told i-D in 2017 that it’s hugely important to her to help “change this fashion / beauty stigma, so it’s not as difficult for people around the world to feel beautiful just the way they are.”
That’s probably one of the reasons why, that same year, she walked the carpet at a People magazine event in this fresh, all-natural look.
“I’m human. Not a dress-up doll,” she said in the i-D interview. “The idea that we all have to fit one idea of beauty is outrageous and ridiculous because ‘perfection’ is just an opinion.”
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Singer Alessia Cara not only accepted her MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video without makeup, she also incorporated the statement into her performance.
While she sang her song “Scars to Your Beautiful,” backup dancers symbolically wiped away her mascara and lipstick and took off her gown to reveal a casual outfit.
“This is who I am,” she told MTV News afterwards. “Just stripping down the layers and showing everyone that you can be successful and be at the VMAs just being yourself. And if yourself is wearing gowns like that, then do that. But if it’s not, then you don’t have to do that. That’s what I’m trying to show people.”
Cameron Diaz is one of the queens of the no-makeup selfie, and she’s also stepped out to major occasions with barely there makeup, including to the 2002 Cannes premiere of Gangs of New York. As for her fantastic skin, Diaz swears by getting lots of sleep and quitting smoking if you’ve picked up the habit.
Singer Ciara has rocked some stunning makeup looks—she even has her own beauty brand in the works. But she also shares tons of makeup-free shots on her Instagram and walked the carpet at the 2017 Makers Conference with husband Russell Wilson wearing nothing on her face but her pregnancy glow.
Marvel actor Zoe Saldana, pictured here at an Oakley brand event in 2007, is frequently bare-faced on her Instagram. She told Byrdie in 2019 that she learned to prioritize natural products in her skin and haircare routine growing up in the Dominican Republic.
“If you live in the islands, you get a coconut, and you use every part of that coconut,” Saldana said. “You drink the water, you make food with the meat, you can squeeze it and make coconut milk, and that milk you can put on your skin, on your hair. And then you can make coconut oil and coconut butter. I grew up using the environment to its full potential.”
Superstore star America Ferrera, pictured here at an Outfest event in 2013, is also pushing back against harmful beauty standards.
“As women, you’re taught that your value is all about your appearance, not your ideas and your tenacity and your courage and your bravery and your adventurous spirit,” she told Redbook in 2017. “Look, I love getting dressed up and looking beautiful. But that’s one tiny piece of me.”
The star tends to opt for full old Hollywood styling at most events, but at the 2015 US Open, she kept the makeup to a minimum.
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