Here’s what it takes to get Demi Lovato—global pop star, purveyor of pithy anthems, and reformed tabloid sensation—ready for work. Two hours are allotted for hair and makeup, a process that involves 22 inches of extensions, six small knots of faux lashes, 10 acrylic nails, contouring, brow sculpting, and highlighting, all on a pristine canvas, thanks to a 12-step facial (using 11 customized products) executed multiple times a year by celebrity skin guru Renée Rouleau. The ritual of getting made up, Lovato will tell you, has been a constant in her life since she lost her first tooth and took her earnings straight to the Clinique counter in pursuit of lipstick. Later, during a childhood’s worth of beauty pageants or time spent on set for Disney’s Sonny With a Chance, she’d become as skilled at the art of mascara and blush as any professional makeup artist.
And yet, for her 66 million Instagram followers, Lovato’s high-voltage brand of glam can feel like a foil at times; despite the full-coverage foundation and the strategically lit selfies, she remains starkly emotionally transparent with her fans.?No one is more aware of the irony here than Lovato: For a girl who loves filters,?she’ll tell you, she comes with relatively few of them.
In her 2017 documentary Simply Complicated, Lovato talked openly about an adolescence marked by eating disorders, cutting, bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol addiction. Like anyone in recovery, the shadows of her demons are long. While she’s proud to be celebrating six years of sobriety, she’s been documenting her ongoing struggle with body image on social media, grappling with her own insecurities in captions like one that appeared alongside a shot of herself beachside in a swimsuit a few months back: “So, I’m insecure about my legs in this picture but I’m posting it because I look so happy, and this year I’ve decided I’m letting go of my perfectionism and embracing freedom from self-criticism,” she wrote. “Giving up my eating disorder has been the most challenging journey of my life, but I work every day toward solid recovery even if I mess up sometimes.” The post garnered 3.3 million likes.
Lovato is equally candid about what it takes to do the difficult work of self-reflection and accountability—she FaceTimes regularly with her therapist on her Tell Me You Love Me tour, repeats self-affirmations in the mirror of her shower, co-facilitates group meetings as a partner at Cast Centers for mental health, and channels the empowering energy of her mixed martial arts teacher as she moves through her day (“When he goes out into the cage, he visualizes that he’s a cat hunting prey,” she says).
And now, in another spirited act of honesty, a small team of people gathers in her home, a breezy Hollywood Hills retreat she purchased after her fifth studio album Confident went gold, to film the “Sorry Not Sorry” singer shedding one more layer, a move that will wipe the slate clean. Her makeup.
“I think society tells us we need makeovers, but why can’t we embrace the beauty that we naturally have?” says Lovato, dressed in a “Don’t Mess With Texas” T-shirt, nails painted an inky shade of Chanel rouge-noir polish, musing on her impending makeunder an hour before the shoot. “I love makeup. I love doing my hair; I have extensions, but there’s a time and a place for everything, and natural beauty needs to be celebrated.”
If fans worry that this reverse beauty tutorial, which strips Lovato’s foundation down to nothing and her famously long hair to a shoulder-grazing bob, will leave her with little more to reveal, they can rest easy. “I’ve opened up about almost everything in my life, but there are certain struggles, sacred experiences, that I’ll share when the time is right,” she says of her commitment to no-holds-barred exposure. For now, there are freckles and fearlessness.
Watch: Demi Lovato, Unfiltered: A Pop Star Makeunder in the Age of Transparency
Demi Lovato in Balmain coat,?Versace dress,?Hanes x Karla tee, Jimmy Choo shoes, Fallon rings, and with a?Fendi bag