In the new Vanity Fair Hollywood issue, Kate Winslet and Scarlett Johansson are shot by Chuck Close in “makeup-free” portraits. The photographer told the magazine:

“I don’t do glamour shots, and they’re not airbrushed or whatever. So they can be, um…they can be rough. So I need to talk people through it. They have to give up a great deal of vanity in order to do it. And it takes a real act of generosity and faith on the part of the subject to go with it and to give me their image without having any control over what’s gonna happen.”


So I’m looking at these “makeup-free” pictures and, like, am I the only c-nt who’s not really believing it? What’s the definition of “no makeup”? Is it no eye makeup? Or is it a totally, totally clean face?

I just sat down here at the studio with a couple of makeup artists in our building to study these pictures. Let’s start with Scarjo:

One of benefits of makeup is that it evens out your skin tone. Her skin tone is SO even here. And her brows look really, really perfect too. The artists I’m hanging out with think there might be some light concealer under eyes. Also, she has lipgloss on, and maybe a little lip colour.

As for Kate:

Jordana, one of the artists who we work with, posited that “they’re using texture to distract you”. Because you’re so used to them airbrushing out the fuzz on faces, right? But they haven’t it here. So, even though, to us anyway, she looks like she might have some powder on, or a light foundation, the fact that you can see the light dusting of hair on her jaw suggests she’s totally free of enhancement because we’ve been so conditioned to not seeing any fuzz. Texture in this case could be camouflaging “tone”. I mean, the skin right below her eyes is the same tone, with zero transition, as the tone of skin on her cheeks. Look at yourself in the mirror without makeup on. At the area below your bottom lid. It’s almost never, ever exactly the same shade as your cheek. 

The hair is helping here too. Leaving the hair lank and unkempt suggests that it’s all “makeup-free”. But if they had their hair blown out, if they had it properly styled, would you still look at these faces and declare them free of makeup?

Consider too that “makeup-free” doesn’t necessarily mean sh-tty lighting. Lighting is EVERYTHING. You could have the best makeup artist in the world do your makeup but if the lighting is budget, you’d still look busted. This is GREAT lighting. It probably took quite a bit of tweaking to set up. They wouldn’t have such “natural” highlighting on their skin if this was taken from an iPhone, I promise you.

What’s my point? Am I being a picky bitch?

To me, it’s about the presentation. We are meant to believe that these people, ahem, just woke up like that. And still look so beautiful. And if the point was to be “real”, is this really “reality” that’s being sold?