At last Hollywood is revealing its unvarnished side. An increasing number of actresses – including Julia Roberts, Julianne Moore and Drew Barrymore – are posting makeup-free selfies while in isolation as they embrace the trend to go bare-faced.
But beauty experts warn there is a degree of smoke and mirrors – and politics – at play within the concept of what constitutes “no makeup”.
Bunny Kinney, editor-in-chief of magazine Dazed Beauty, said: “It’s a reassuring gesture brought upon by influential women who want to show a fearlessness, a solidarity and an encouragement of all people to celebrate the skin they live in.”
But he added: “It’s so easy for audiences to compare themselves to influencers by really taking them only at face value, based on how they are presenting themselves in a highly curated and controlled way without any grasp of what is really going on behind the scenes.”
And what is going on “behind the scenes” can be the creation of a bare-faced look that is just as complicated as a fully made-up one.
In 2018 a fan reposted a picture of the beauty vlogger Gina Shkeda (885,000 followers) looking makeup free, alongside the hashtag #naturalbeauty. But on Twitter Shkeda rebutted this claim by saying: “Girl, I have micro-bladed brows, lash extensions in and lip injections – I don’t even look like this.”
Shkeda’s revelation could have seen her taken apart by trolls and “cancelled”, but instead she was praised. “Generation Z has no time for influencers that aren’t honest and open about who they are,” said Sarah Jindal, associate director of global beauty and personal care at market researcher Mintel.
Rachel Anise, a beauty expert, said: “People appreciate seeing bare skin in various states of imperfection as it builds a sense of commonality and identification. [These are] two elements that are often missing from the overly filtered and airbrushed images that we metabolise on social media daily.”
The no-makeup trend, alongside the clean beauty ideology (mindfully created, toxin-free products) is part of the “emotional beauty” movement, which represents a return to the “honesty, authenticity and transparency that have been the hallmarks of Generation Z’s beauty evolution,” said Charlotte Delobelle of forecasting agency Fashion Snoops, who coined the term.
The movement arguably began in 2014, when Leandra Medine Cohen wrote a post called Why I Don’t Wear Make Up for her Man Repeller site. It was a treatise of radical self-acceptance. “I am comfortable with how I look,” she wrote. “I don’t hate what I see when I look in the mirror.”
When the beauty blogger Kadeeja Khan moved from standard beauty posts to bare-faced images of her struggle with cystic acne, she was praised for promoting skin positivity in all its forms.
“It’s important for my audience to understand that if you don’t have the ‘perfect skin or perfect body’ that it’s normal,” she said. “There is no such thing as perfection and it’s important to share that reality with my followers.”