First Alicia Keys and now Jennifer Garner? The actress followed in the musician’s no-makeup footsteps over the weekend at the Telluride Film Festival, when she attended the fest — twice — without a trace of lipstick or blush, and dressed down in jeans. And while a growing clutch of celebs, including Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow, have been posting no-makeup selfies on social media, going bare-faced at a high-profile event or walking the red carpet (as Keys did at the VMAs) is taking it to a whole other level. And fans seem to be pleased.
“Love this idea,” tweeted one. “Why shouldn’t she?” tweeted another. “Cosmetics aren’t necessary.”
But are Keys and Garner leading a celeb trend that could stick? Not according to beauty historian Rachel Weingarten, who says the trajectory of overdone and understated looks are easily traced throughout the decades — and that what’s going on here may be more a collection of calculated moves.
“There are a few pieces to the trend,” Weingarten, author of Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ’40s–’60s, tells Yahoo Beauty. “First, just because someone has a nude face doesn’t mean they are makeup free,” such as in the case of J. Lo’s recent selfie, she says. With Keys, she believes the no-makeup pledge could be a way to become “the anti-Beyoncé, who is so overproduced.” By seeing the singer so stripped-down, Weingarten posits that Keys hopes, “We suddenly remember, oh, Alicia Keys — she’s the one with the piano, and the one with the actual talent.”
In the case of Garner, meanwhile, who was in Telluride to promote her new film Wakefied, Weingarten believes her decision to go barefaced could just be her saying, “Look, I’m so exhausted from being in the spotlight [over her split with Ben Affleck], I’m bearing myself, I’m vulnerable. This is me.” She adds, “It almost affords her a certain tenderness so that we feel protective of her. It could be a calculated ploy so we can look at her and realize, ‘Ohhh, she’s just a mom in jeans.’”
With Paltrow, it’s most certainly calculated, she says — as in most of the selfie cases — as a way to change the conversation. “You’re not going to see someone appear without makeup who we haven’t been talking about lately,” she says.
And while the whole no-makeup thing could be in part a cultural backlash — beauty fatigue as well as a “thumbing-of-the-nose at the cult of Kardashian” — Weingarten doesn’t believe it’s one that will last or even explode.
“I don’t think it’s the beauty trend that’s going to pick up. Conversely,” she says, “what might be coming is lots of nude products for fall.”