The Latest Hollywood Beauty Trend? Perfection Rejection

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Alicia Keys started going makeup-free in 2016.

Female celebs and execs are embracing the idea that less is more when it comes to beauty maintenance.

Salvador Dali once said: “Have no fear of perfection — you'll never reach it.” Increasingly, women are taking that to heart and rejecting the pursuit of perfection, turning their backs on the collective fixation with idealized Instagram imagery — staged, filtered and doctored images that scream, “Brand ME” — and the airbrushed aesthetic it spawned.

This zeitgeist shift — call it perfection rejection — is being felt and seen in Hollywood, where celebs and industry executives are giving up on the unreal and unattainable in favor of something that doesn't look like it's trying so hard. While the 1990s are undeniably back in style, the change in mindset isn’t an anti-fashion statement as much as a cosmetic course correction that corresponds with the rise in more natural makeup and hair on the runways for the spring 2017 season.

Across Los Angeles, the birthplace of Max Factor's original Pan-Cake makeup in 1938, today's glam professionals are seeing clients just say no to excess, says celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg, whose clients include Sheri Salata, recently co-president of OWN; Jill Leiderman, executive producer of Jimmy Kimmel Live!; Kristen Stewart and Rashida Jones. "Now more than ever, a lot of women in Hollywood are supporting less makeup as the norm," she says, “because they're fed up with the plastered look — painted-on brows and lips and heavy false lashes.”

Greenberg's client Rashida Jones often goes for a more natural look on the red carpet.

Perfection rejection never represented a sacrifice to Nicole Clemens, a former partner at ICM, executive vp series development at FX and now producer-manager at Anonymous: “I’d like to grow old, not weird,” she says. “I feel like I look more youthful with less makeup anyway.”

For Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, producer and manager of The Gotham Group, who’d prefer to spend her mornings exercising rather than putting on makeup, the shift entailed focusing on one essential appointment. “It’s all about my eyelash extension,” she says. “I whip my lashes into shape once a month, and that’s all I need.”

For Christy Stratton, a producer on Modern Family and writer-director of the Emmy-nominated digital series Everyone’s Crazy But Us, it involved prioritizing to make sure she presents well — but real: “I don’t curl my lashes or pencil in a perfect brow. But I will make sure my roots are covered.”

For Laurie Zaks, president of television at Mandeville Films, her locks (and little else) get the TLC: "I used to pay more attention to prep. For me, keeping things streamlined just comes across much more feminine and professional," she says. "All I need is good, working hair."

Long before #NoMakeup selfies by Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek (among others), before Alicia Keys appeared sans cosmetics at the VMAs and before Glamour published its “makeup-free issue” in August 2016 covered by Mila Kunis, beauty-industry titan Bobbi Brown pioneered the “no makeup” aesthetic more than 25 years ago. According to Brown, who’s worked with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Reese Witherspoon and Katie Holmes, the look is in greater demand and more relevant than ever before: “I give these women just enough to look their best — that’s what they want,” she says. “There’s no need to chase trends like contouring or over-dramatizing brows; that’s not who a modern woman is.”


A photo posted by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on

Paltrow snapped a makeup-free selfie in her car.

Like Brown, makeup artist Taylor Babaian — whose clients include Andrea Wong, former president of international production at Sony Pictures, and Terry Press, president of CBS Films — gets hired because “my clients want to look like subtly enhanced versions of themselves.”

That authentic, flaws-and-all look can pay dividends for the power professional, even in Hollywood, a town built on make-believe. "It makes these women more relatable," says stylist Jason Campbell, who works with Wendi Deng Murdoch, Jamie Tisch and Kathy Freston. "They’re saying, 'Look at me, I’m real. I can face the world as my natural self.' " And that may be the biggest luxury of all.