Photo credit: Getty

Alicia Keys stuns with makeup-free MTV VMAs look

With Kanye West's speech, Rihanna's medleys and Beyonce's 16-minute performance taking centre stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, one simple act of defiance by an artist was overlooked.

RnB songstress Alicia Keys turned up to the awards ceremony wearing no make-up - that's right, not a single smidgen of foundation, eyeliner or concealer.

The 35-year-old posed bare-faced for cameras that also snapped away at heavily made-up, glitzy artists such as Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian.

Keys revealed that she'd had something of an epiphany in a blog post for Lena Dunham's feminist online publication back in May this year.

In it, she described how she'd turned up to a photo shoot where the photographer insisted that she take photos as she was, without any makeup on and wearing only casual clothes.

"Instantly, I became a bit nervous and slightly uncomfortable. My face was totally raw. I had on a sweatshirt!" she said.

"As far as I was concerned, this was my quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look, not the actual photo shoot look. So I asked her, 'Now?! Like right now? I want to be real, but this might be too real!!'"

After that experience, the 15-time Grammy Award-winner said she was made to reconsider wearing makeup at all.

"I don't want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing," Keys wrote.

And she stood by her word, glowing as she took the stage to share a poem on the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's famous 'I have a dream' speech.

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