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Alicia Keys launches Elf Cosmetics beauty line amid criticism

Grammy Award-winner Alicia Keys is set to debut her own beauty brand, more than four years after vowing to stop ‘covering up’ her face with makeup for red carpet events and photoshoots. 

The 39-year-old singer has partnered with popular budget-friendly company Elf Cosmetics on the new cruelty-free ‘lifestyle beauty brand’, which will focus primarily on skincare – with Alicia revealing that the concept has been inspired by her own ‘journey’. 

‘A culmination of Alicia’s personal skincare journey and her passion for bringing light into the world, this new lifestyle beauty brand will enable Alicia to further explore conversations about inner beauty, wellness and connection,’ a statement from the brand revealed.  

Baring it all: Alicia Keys has announced plans to launch a new beauty brand in partnership with Elf Cosmetics, revealing that the line will focus primarily on skincare

Baring it all: Alicia Keys has announced plans to launch a new beauty brand in partnership with Elf Cosmetics, revealing that the line will focus primarily on skincare 

Breaking barriers: The 39-year-old revealed in 2016 that she was going to start going makeup-free on red carpets and in photoshoots, explaining that she no longer wanted to 'cover up'

Breaking barriers: The 39-year-old revealed in 2016 that she was going to start going makeup-free on red carpets and in photoshoots, explaining that she no longer wanted to ‘cover up’

‘With an inclusive point of view, an authentic voice, and a line of skin-loving, dermatologist-developed, cruelty-free products, the brand aims to bring new meaning to beauty by honoring ritual in our daily life and practicing intention in every action. The brand is expected to launch in 2021.’

However, while Elf made clear that Alicia’s as-yet unnamed brand will focus on skincare, the musician faced a furious backlash from beauty influencers shortly after her new partnership was announced, with many hitting out at her for partnering with a makeup brand when she doesn’t actually wear the products herself. 

Leading the criticism was controversial YouTube star James Charles, who posted a thinly-veiled tweet about the collaboration – without actually naming Alicia in the post. 

‘People who do not wear makeup should not be coming out with makeup brands,’ the 21-year-old wrote in the since-deleted post – a sentiment that was echoed by fellow influencer Manny Gutierrez, who is known online as Manny MUA. 

‘Does anyone else get slightly irritated when celebs come out with entire makeup lines?’ Manny, 29, wrote in a tweet, which has also been deleted. ‘Especially when those celebs don’t even wear makeup … I’m like girl.’

However the influencers faced a swift backlash of their own as Alicia’s fans leapt to her defense, pointing out that her new brand is going to focus mostly on skincare – a topic that she is very well versed in, having prioritized it over cosmetics for many years now. 

Both James and Manny have since issued apologies to Alicia on Twitter, with James admitting that he made a ‘mistake’ in posting the ‘childish’ tweet.  

Making a change: Alicia, pictured in 2004, used to show off a glamorous look whenever she stepped in front of the cameras, however she has since prioritized flaunting her bare skin

Making a change: Alicia, pictured in 2004, used to show off a glamorous look whenever she stepped in front of the cameras, however she has since prioritized flaunting her bare skin

Making a change: Alicia, pictured in 2004, used to show off a glamorous look whenever she stepped in front of the cameras, however she has since prioritized flaunting her bare skin 

Inspiration: Elf said the partnership with the singer (pictured in January) will be 'a culmination of Alicia's personal skincare journey and her passion for bringing light into the world'

Inspiration: Elf said the partnership with the singer (pictured in January) will be ‘a culmination of Alicia’s personal skincare journey and her passion for bringing light into the world’

‘Yesterday, I posted a subtweet about how I thought some celebrities shouldn’t launch makeup lines. It was about @aliciakeys,’ he said in a statement posted on Thursday. 

He confessed that he was ‘bothered’ by the announcement of Alicia’s collaboration with Elf because ‘so many celebrities come into the beauty space as a cash grab’, suggesting that he assumed the singer was simply using her new brand as an opportunity to earn money. 

Shaking things up: Alicia has gone mostly makeup-free since May 2016, however she occasionally models a bold lip or fun eye look

Shaking things up: Alicia has gone mostly makeup-free since May 2016, however she occasionally models a bold lip or fun eye look

‘A few years ago, she announced that she no longer would wear makeup, so I was bothered because many celebrities come into the beauty space as a cash grab without any actual passion and then leave,’ he said. 

‘I deleted the tweet after a few [minutes] because it’s childish to indirect tweet someone [and] I am not the gatekeeper of makeup. 

‘Anyone should be able to secure their bag and it’s not up to me which brands people should or shouldn’t support.’

James added that, after finding out Alicia’s brand would be centered around skincare, he felt that there could be nobody ‘better to talk about keeping your skin clear without makeup’. 

‘Regardless of my intention with my tweet, it ended up being a microaggression against someone I respect, so to @aliciakeys I owe a direct apology — I’m sorry. It wasn’t my place to gatekeep this industry. 

‘I can’t wait to support and try out the products, and I know the brand will be worth a billion in a few years.’

Manny posted a similar apology on his own account, confessing that he ‘should have researched more’ before venting about the partnership.

‘I get defensive of the beauty community because so many celebrities come out with cosmetics lines as a cash grab, but I shouldn’t have jumped the gun…’ 

Backlash: The singer faced harsh criticism from beauty influencers like James Charles over the launch, with the 21-year-old posting a thinly-veiled tweet about her partnership on Wednesday

Backlash: The singer faced harsh criticism from beauty influencers like James Charles over the launch, with the 21-year-old posting a thinly-veiled tweet about her partnership on Wednesday

Backtrack: The YouTuber then posted an apology, admitting that he assumed Alicia was using her beauty launch as a 'cash grab' like other celebrities who 'come into the beauty space'

Backtrack: The YouTuber then posted an apology, admitting that he assumed Alicia was using her beauty launch as a ‘cash grab’ like other celebrities who ‘come into the beauty space’

The news of Alicia’s upcoming brand launch comes just over four years after the A-lister opened up about her decision to start going makeup-free. 

In May 2016, the singer wrote a piece for Lena Dunham’s website Lenny Letter in which she revealed why she went bare-faced in a shoot for then-newly-released album Here, while opening up about how the experience had inspired her to stop using makeup. 

‘I don’t want to cover up anymore,’ she wrote. ‘Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.’ 

Speaking about her plans for her upcoming beauty brand, Alicia explained that she is ”really creating something that I believe in’.

‘For me beauty is about the soul and the heart and the spirit and what comes through you, comes out of you,’ she said. 

‘And so it’s more than just the surface. It’s a deep conversation about who we are and who we want to be and where we’re going. It’s a passion of mine, a deep passion of mine that has been years in the making.’ 

Elf’s Chairman and CEO Tarang Amin added: ‘We are beyond thrilled to leverage our strengths to help realize Alicia’s vision, as it not only aligns with our mission to make the best of beauty accessible, but infuses it with an even deeper dimension.

‘As a brand builder, I’m excited and very energized about the opportunities for us to reach new audiences in creative ways and to continue to lead in category innovation.’ 

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