unrecognizable without makeup
Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, and Jennifer Lopez going makeup-free on social media in 2021.

It’s 2021. The nation is potentially more polarized than ever before, and we’re still battling a global pandemic, with millions of lives tragically lost. For better or for worse (it’s arguable), our social media feeds remain populated with content to distract ourselves from the harsh realities of the present. As I take a moment to start the day, struggling through headlines about steadily growing death counts, the last thing I want to come across is an article claiming that a celebrity looks unrecognizable without makeup. 

Full disclosure: Saying a celebrity looks unrecognizable without makeup earns a website clicks. I’m painfully aware of this knowledge, with the résumé to prove it. I, too, have used this language before, and it is my vow as a GRAZIA beauty editor in 2021 to stop using jargon that hails makeup as something we should be embarrassed or ashamed about. When you take off your makeup at the end of a long day or catch the first glimpse of yourself in the mirror at 6:30 a.m, there’s no reason to be critiquing your appearance. It’s time we all reshape the narrative to promote this message—no excuses.

It’s the language we use today that shapes the beauty industry’s future, one that’s hopefully even less focused on criticizing the appearance of individuals in their purest, most beautiful form. People obviously look different without makeup on, and that’s something to be celebrated! The unfortunate truth is that going bare-faced is considered something bold—daring, even—do we really want to continue to promote that message? 

unrecognizable without makeup
Tracee Ellis Ross, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga going makeup-free on social media in 2020.

The industry has undoubtedly improved in the last decade. Fashion and beauty magazines and their digital counterparts have evolved over the years. They’ve shifted away from sexist female stereotypes that dominated the glossy pages of 50s spreads (see: the infamous Hardee’s “Women Don’t Leave the Kitchen” ad) to reflect a modern definition of beauty. Today’s meaning is less about aesthetics and more about confidence—the ability to celebrate your own vantage point, not through the Male Gaze.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m makeup-obsessed, one to get emotionally overwhelmed at the entrance of my local Sephora or at the sight of a breathtaking beauty editorial. If you want to wear makeup, wear makeup, and wear it proudly! Just don’t let anyone be the reason why you keep your cosmetics on after hours, ashamed of what lies underneath.

A few of GRAZIA’s favorite celebrity quotes about the modern-day definition of beauty, below.

Jessica alba

“American beauty right now is confidence in who you are,” Alba told Allure in 2017. “The most beautiful people embrace and celebrate their uniqueness.”

Alicia keys

“I don’t want to cover up anymore,” Keys wrote in a personal essay in 2016, when she decided to stop wearing makeup. “Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.”

Drew barrymore

“My main beauty tip is don’t say that negative thing when you look in the mirror,” Drew Barrymore told Women’s Health in 2013. “It just isn’t healthy…That lack of beating up on ourselves — that’s my new mantra. Happiness is the best makeup; a smile is better than any lipstick you’ll put on.”