Just call me Alicia Keys

Karima Lanfranco

Karima Lanfranco

I met a friend the other day for lunch. Usually this gal epitomizes done-up perfection: blown out hair and perfectly manicured hands. But that day, I forwardly said, “You look different.”

She paused, examining her hands, as if knowing exactly to what I referred, and said, “Yeah, I’m doing the No Makeup Challenge.” Even though she didn’t say it, I saw the hashtag floating above her head.

“Oh, yeah,” I responded, “like Alicia Keys,” proud of myself for knowing something about pop culture.

“Are you doing it too?” My friend paused again, this time examining me — from my frizzy hair to the unpolished toes peeping out of my flip-flops.

“Yep!” I lied, even though the “messy chignon bun” she’d just complimented me on was really the result of dry shampoo and hair that hadn’t been properly washed in days.

From models to bloggers to Insta-celebs, the undone beauty look is everywhere. The lovely, aforementioned Alicia Keys even wrote an essay on her new way of life when she ignited this mini-revolution last year.

It may seem vapid to call this a “revolution,” especially considering the exponentially more important things happening in our world. But it’s also incredibly positive and inspiring that Ms. Keys has given my friend — and so many other women — an avenue to explore new territory and bare it all.

Home from lunch, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, inspecting my makeup-less face. Since our baby’s birth four months ago, it was one of the first times I’d actually stared at myself for more than a few minutes: The freckles on my forehead. The sunspot that appeared on my left cheek during pregnancy. The laugh lines revealing themselves around the corners of my mouth.

Most days I’ll use the mirror to make sure I’ve wiped all the residual toothpaste from my mouth (if I’ve remembered to brush my teeth at all). Or I’ll check my shoulder for noticeable spit-up before heading to Publix.

In this house, every day is the #NoMakeupChallenge, but not because I’m trying to follow a celebrity trend. Half the reason is I don’t have frivolous time for drawing eyebrows, lining lips, or layering foundation.

The other half is because motherhood has truly redefined my definition of beauty: I feel more comfortable in my bare skin than I ever have. And this confidence reminds me of the type of role model I want to be for my daughter. I’ve spent the majority of the last 120 days makeup-free, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

I’ve never been an extremist, and I’m certainly not vowing to go #makeupfree forever. (I can’t deny feeling a little empowered by a swipe of bright, red lipstick.) But I’ve learned the healthy difference between enhancing my unique, natural beauty, and attempting to transform my face into a completely different thing. Already, I hope I’m using this newfound courage to teach my daughter to be proud of her face sans (or with very little) makeup.

If this fad dies down (and I hope it doesn’t), I’ll still rock my bare, naked face in public. In the meantime, I may keep up this little white lie to play up my cool-girl factor.

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