Alicia Keys has always had a complicated relationship with her skin. She experienced acne during her teens and 20s, and used to hide her complexion concerns behind makeup. But as she's gotten older and focused more on caring for herself and managing her stress levels, she noticed a huge difference in her skin.
"What was causing my skin to react that way was a number of things," says Keys. "Obviously stress, I definitely wasn't drinking enough water, so I changed that in my life for sure. But I think what it mostly was the energy that I was allowing around myself and a lot of toxicity and toxic energies were kind of in my cipher, in my circle. And once I realized that I had the choice to get rid of those things and just say like, 'This isn't good for me,' I really did notice a big change in how my skin started to react to the stress that I was feeling in my life."
As Keys discovered, the stress/skin connection is real. When you're stressed, your body produces more cortisol which can stimulate your oil glands and lead to breakouts. High stress levels can also cause hormonal changes that disrupt the skin barrier causing redness and irritation. So working to lower your stress can make a huge difference in how your skin looks and feels.
Recognizing this relationship between overall well-being and skin is what led the Grammy-award-winning singer to launch Keys Soulcare, a skin-care line rooted in self-care."Our offerings are developed with a dermatologist and they're efficacious and they're clean and all of these really awesome things," says Keys. "But also there are mantras and affirmations on each bottle that came from those experiences in my life where I realized that I could choose the energy that's around me. And I could also call to me what it is that I want. One of my favorite affirmations on the Sage + Oat Milk Candle ($39) is, 'I shine at full wattage.' And that's a reminder not to pull back or to hold back."
As a means of mitigating her stress levels, Keys takes time to ensure her daily skin-care routine is more than just a rush to slather on products—she uses the experience to nourish her skin while also nourishing her soul. With that in mind, Keys Soulcare is all about turning routine into ritual to make those five minutes in the morning self-care-focused and special.
"For me, I definitely go through my morning routine and I'll look at every affirmation on each bottle and I will say it out loud," says Keys. "I'll pick one that I really need. Like on the exfoliator, it says, 'I am layered, complex, and divine,' and that just gives me permission to be layered, complex, and divine—which is a beautiful thing. Sometimes you just need permission to feel how you feel and be who you are, and so that piece is part of the process of creating a small ritual in your everyday routines."
By being intentional within our routines, Keys hopes that we all take the time to focus on what makes us actually feel good. "You can put things on your skin, but if you don't feel good, it really doesn't matter," she says.
This is something you can practice with any product, but if you want the full Soulcare experience, shop some of the brand's newest products below.
The most important thing Keys does to her skin is washing her face every single night. “One of the things that I love to use is the cleansing balm. It’s really amazing,” she says. “It’s so luxurious. It has charcoal in it, it has shea butter, it has manuka honey.” She loves it gets her skin nice and clean while leaving it feeling moisturized. Her skin “feels like it’s not stripped of all of the good things. It is really an awesome end-of-the-day routine.”
Keys loves this gorgeous serum. It has a bit of a glow to it, providing the perfect base to start your day. “I love to wear it just by itself fresh on my skin and then maybe, if I want to, I’ll add a little blush or add a little mascara or something like that,” she says. “It also has niacinamide in it, which is vitamin B3, so it manages your breakouts and promotes an even skin tone.”
This cream is a thicker version of the brand’s original Skin Transformation Cream ($32). “Our original skin transformation cream works incredibly well, but it’s quite thin. And this one has a little bit more of a richer feel if that’s what people like,” says Keys. “It also has bakuchiol in it, which is my favorite word to say ever— like, bakuchiol is the coolest word I ever heard. It’s a botanical alternative to retinol, which is so good at improving the skin brightness and the texture and lessen the appearance of fine lines and things like that.” It also includes malachite (another cool name) which is a crystal that helps purify and calm the spirit.
‘I’m a self-declared lip balm snob,” says Keys. “I really love the right type of lip balm. I want it to really feel good. I want it to last when I put it on my lips. I just want to feel moisturized. I don’t want to have to go back in two minutes and put it on again.” So, she decided to launch a jumbo size of her beloved Comforting Balm.
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