It's easy to be cynical about celebrity brands, but Keys Soulcare is a rare gem with bags of authenticity. The formulas and packaging punch above their price bracket, and as long as you're down to get a bit deep and meaningful in your skincare routine, there's little not to love here
If the idea of 'rituals' puts you off
By Fiona McKim
Keys Soulcare is the beauty and lifestyle brand founded by iconic music artist Alicia Keys. After many social media teasers, the first product drop in 2020 won much acclaim from beauty fans and industry insiders who praised the clever formulas, chic packaging and ethos of offering "rituals" rather than straight down the line cosmetic products.
If your usual stance on celebrities trying to get a piece of your skincare routine errs on eye-rolling, we hear you. Show us a beauty editor who isn't a brand snob and we'll show you a unicorn. But as well as hearing you, we'd also say, listen up, because Keys Soulcare could just change your mind: This range very much sits within that higher echelon of celebrity brands that have forced an industry about-face on those prejudices.
Thanks to brands like Victoria Beckham Beauty and Fenty (Rihanna's billion dollar empire that engineered one of the best foundation launches of the last decade) the space once occupied by sugary teen fragrance is now held by smart, entrepreneurial women, as adept at knocking out the best mascara as they are a tune that gets every generation dancing at a wedding.
Likewise, Keys Soulcare is not your typical cynical celeb machine; it feels like a well thought out collection from a founder who cares.
Want to know more? Here's why Key Soulcare should be on your radar.
Keys Soulcare—our beauty editor's review
Packaging and first impressions
True story: On blind-testing Keys Soulcare for our w&h Skin Essentials Awards, I was convinced that it could only be one of those hyper-expensive cult brands you usually find locked behind a glass cabinet in snooty concept stores.
Why? Well, firstly, the gender-neutral violet glass packaging is beyond beautiful. It's weighty, chic, and not obviously touched by the hand of fame. The composition of the range also feels super considered. This is a tightly-edited collection, offering everything you need without superfluous trend-baiting products.
Can you blame me for assuming it had been masterminded by a beauty industry insider rather than brilliant music artist? Well yes, you probably can, considering the clue is quite literally in the name. In fact, once you know Keys Soulcare is the brainchild of Alicia Keys, it also becomes obvious that this is one of those rare examples of celeb beauty that truly represents its founder.
After all, this is the woman who took a public break from makeup as a riposte against oppressive beauty standards. This is also the woman behind some of the most soulful anthems of the last two decades (try listening to No One without getting chills). Ethically it’s A-list too, with cruelty-free formulas and contributions to charity partners.
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What's in the range?
Fittingly, Keys Soulcare is all about the feelings, with every product described as a “soul nurturing ritual.” Translation: it’s an absolute joy to use. Think body care with highly sensorial textures and fragrances, gentle yet effective skincare and hand-poured aromatherapy candles.
The first drop included just three products: the Sage + Oat Milk Candle, Transformation Cream and Obsidian Facial Roller. Kicking off with a ratio of two offerings for self-care moments versus one traditional skincare product feels like a statement of intent. This brand wants you to feel good on the inside, as well as look good on the outside.
“We’re so busy all the time that I don’t think we create these small rituals for ourselves,” explained Alicia. “When I’m able to create that space for myself I feel more beautiful, more powerful, more possible. That’s Soulcare.”
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Soon more skincare followed, created with highly respected dermatologist Dr. Renée Snyder. These days there's a whole regimen available including, but not limited to, a facial cleanser, exfoliator, serum, multitasking balm, nourishing mask, and even an aura mist.
The formulations strike the right note between being sensorial and natural-leaning but also effective. This means we get active skincare stars like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamide, blended with natural heroes like soothing manuka honey in the Golden Cleanser, avocado oil in the Comforting Balm, and bakuchiol (a plant-based retinol alternative) in the Transformation Cream.
Most recently, body care arrived in a typically considered fashion with just three products: a body cream, oil, and wash—all with the 'I can't believe it's not pricier' textures and scents you would hope for, and all in gorgeous bottles that you would be proud to show off in your bathroom.
The best Keys Soulcare products
As woman&home's Senior Beauty Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more beauty products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about a brilliant beauty find on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair dye experiments and cute shih-tzus)
Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013, working under legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know about the industry (clue: learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism).
In a previous life, Fiona studied journalism back home in bonnie Scotland and honed her skills as a features writer at publications including Junior and Prima Baby, with a brief and terrifying stint on the showbiz gossip pages of a tabloid newspaper in between. She's a skincare fanatic who can’t resist adding an extra step to her routine if it’s all the rage in Japan, loves fragrance, has fun with makeup and never turns down the chance to test a new hair tool. Basically, she loves it all.
When not slathering herself in self tan or squinting at a tiny ingredients list on a moisturiser, you’ll probably find Fiona enjoying something to do with food - cooking it, eating it, cajoling her friends into trekking across London to try a hyped pop-up in a dirty car park.
Come to think of it, the hot dinners and beauty products are probably about even.
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