A Makeup Artist Debunks Those Unretouched Beyoncé Photos


Another day, more fake internet outrage. Yesterday, fansite Beyoncé World posted hundreds of unretouched stills from Bey’s 2013 L’Oréal ad campaigns (for Feria and Infallible lipstick), proving once and for all that the pop star has — wait for it — real human SKIN! The kind that is susceptible to pimples! Clearly every previously held perception of Queen Bey is shattered at the realization that she is a mere mortal. I’ll wait while you dismantle your shrine(s) to her.

The reaction to these photos was extreme, to say the least. The Beyhive flooded Beyoncé World with negative responses, and within an hour, they’d taken down the photos and posted this statement:

Due to the disdain of the BeyHive, we have removed the photos. We don’t want to cause any drama, nor do we wish to start fan wars. Some of the things we have seen posted were just horrible, and we don’t want any parts of it. We were just posting the photos to share the fact that our queen is naturally beautiful, at the same time she is just a regular woman.

Complex merely highlighted outrage tweets, while Gawker’s Defamer felt the need to title their post, “Uh-Oh: Beyoncé’s Face Is Uh-Oh” and include some crack about how these pictures should make Solange feel better.

The whole thing made me feel pretty gross, to be honest. The amplification of these kinds of conversations only helps to reinforce ridiculous beauty standards, even when the implication is that we should all feel better about ourselves because of these photos. I found myself thinking that our desire to believe that Beyoncé woke up like *this* obscures our ability to even consider the conditions surrounding the photos. So I asked someone in the beauty industry what to make of these so-called revealing shots.

Tiffany Patton is a makeup artist who has worked on editorial shoots and campaigns, for the likes of InStyle, The New York Times, and Original Penguin, as well as runway shows for Marc by Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Givenchy, and many more. She offered up a few possible explanations for the shots, outside of the obvious takeaway that Beyoncé, like anyone, has textural inconsistencies on her face, which was heavily made up and placed under hot lights for hours.

-“In terms of lighting, it’s not a blown-out shot,” Patton says. “This lighting is moodier and a lot harsher on the face. If the flash was brighter, imperfections would be blown out in the photos.”

– “Lighting for packaging, not lighting for people” is one thing Patton said to consider. Even though Beyoncé is a huge spokesmodel for L’Oréal, the purpose of the ad is to highlight and sell the product.

– Keep in mind that most cosmetic ads use 17-18-year-old girls with flawless baby skin, so that’s what people are accustomed to seeing,” Patton says. “This is the difference when women of a certain age have beauty campaigns.” (Bey is 33, for the record.)

– And finally: “It’s a beauty ad, those things are retouched to high hell. When anyone does a cosmetic photoshoot, it’s under the assumption that any imperfections are going to be taken care of for you.”