“It’s a reminder to take time for yourself.”
Alicia Keys has a very particular way of doing things. It’s evident in not only the way she writes her songs — highly praised ballads of contemporary R&B infused with classical piano — but also how she lives her life. Mornings always begin with meditation, and evenings are capped off with a non-negotiable skincare regimen that anchors the star’s day with intention.
Stepping into Keys’s Toronto hotel suite for the Sephora Canada launch of her beauty and lifestyle brand, Keys Soulcare, is akin to entering her calm, luminescent world. Light is pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows, Baby Rose’s bassy voice is playing softly in the background and despite the flurry of people rushing in and out, the atmosphere feels very Zen. Sporting cornrows, hoop earrings that nearly graze her shoulders and a monogrammed Kith bomber jacket, the 15-time Grammy Award-winning musician is seated in front of a table spangled with amethyst-coloured products, or “offerings” as she calls them.
Derm developed and cruelty-free, Keys Soulcare takes a clean and holistic approach to beauty: It’s built around face and body staples that are free of harsh chemicals (read “parabens, phthalates, sulfates and formaldehyde”) and infused with gentle yet effective ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, shea and cocoa butters and bakuchiol-plant extract. “I’ve had quite a challenging skincare journey, so it’s been a dream for me to be able to create products that I know work and that I’m comfortable using on my skin,” shares the 41-year-old mother of two. “I always say ‘You’re safe with Soulcare.’”
What’s more, each beauty product is associated with an affirmation, penned by Alicia Keys herself, to be repeated during its use. Mantras like “I am strong, capable and unstoppable” are intended to help you enter into a ritualistic process of benevolence toward yourself. “It isn’t just skin deep with us; it’s layers deep,” she expresses. “That’s what beauty means to me. It has to be more than just physical appearance. That’s not going to sustain anybody. Beauty is never going to feel fulfilling unless it comes from that inner place. Turning inward is very important.”
The uplifting impetus was well timed. “We launched during COVID, which is definitely a whole new world,” she says. “But I felt so grateful for this concept. Some people have never heard of a mantra or an affirmation, so normalizing this idea of caring about yourself and not feeling guilty about it—or taking that small time that just restores you—is essential. I think we respect that now more than ever because we recognize that wellness should not be ignored.”
Most recently, the beauty entrepreneur has expanded into cosmetics, with a collection of buildable skincare-meets-colour hybrid products. It was a surprising move, considering that Keys famously swore off makeup altogether in 2016 — an act of rebellion against society’s oppressive beauty standards, as she has stated in the past — becoming one of the bare faces at the forefront of the #nomakeup movement. Called Make You, the assortment, which Alicia Keys debuted with her Met Gala 2022 red-carpet look, takes a minimalist approach to beauty. And just like the affirmation on her Sheer Flush Cheek Tint — “I choose my own path”—the launch marks a new era in her own beauty evolution. More importantly, it’s based on her own soul-nourishing terms.
With Keys Soulcare, the singer leans heavily into beauty as a source of self-care and reprieve, tapping into how she has steadied herself throughout her decades-long career. “I always say ‘Let’s do it before we have the breakdown—before we can’t stand up anymore because we’re so exhausted,’” she states. “Let’s find those moments where we can say ‘I’m gonna do this thing—take a bath, light my candle, meditate, work out or just be quiet.’”
Keys then recalls an evening when she was roasting marshmallows at home with her kids. After her sons went inside, she found herself alone by the fire. Instantly, her mind darted to her to-do list. Then she thought about the “I carve out time for myself” affirmation for Keys Soulcare’s Body Gua Sha. “That’s part of what this brand is about,” she says. “It’s a reminder to take time for yourself. These small moments can make you feel really good.”
Below, Alicia Keys shares the offerings that comprise her non-negotiable beauty regimen.
This article first appeared in FASHION’s September issue. Find out more here.