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Stars without makeup: Plain Janes or plain brilliant?

By Stephanie Goldberg, CNN
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Fri May 18, 2012
AnnaLynne McCord sported minimal makeup while visiting Israel in May.
AnnaLynne McCord sported minimal makeup while visiting Israel in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • McCord was praised for tweeting a makeup-free picture after tabloids criticized her skin
  • Stars like Bethenny Frankel and Jennifer Love Hewitt have also shared fresh-faced pictures
  • Source: Some publicists encourage clients to share more natural photos with fans

(CNN) -- After being photographed without makeup while in Vancouver last month, candid shots of AnnaLynne McCord hit the Web, with with one site noting: "Her facial blemishes were completely visible."

"This is newsworthy? Me not wearing makeup," the "90210" actress recently told CNN. "The more I thought about it, the more upset I got."

And so, one week later, in her New York hotel room, a barefaced McCord snapped a photo of herself and posted it on Twitter for her more than 140,000 followers to see.

In the past few months, stars such as Bethenny Frankel and Jennifer Love Hewitt have also shared fresh-faced pictures of themselves via their Twitter accounts. Meanwhile, actresses Zooey Deschanel and Paula Patton, among others, posed without makeup for People's Most Beautiful issue.

And we can't help but look.

AnnaLynne McCord posted this photo of herself, makeup free, on Twitter.
AnnaLynne McCord posted this photo of herself, makeup free, on Twitter.

"It's human nature," said Brian Solis, a principle media analyst at Altimeter Group. "There's a level of mystique to celebrity, and social media can either add to it or take away from it." More celebrities are realizing this and jumping on the au naturel-twitpic bandwagon, he added.

"A new generation of publicists are working with their (celebrity clients) to build this much more everyday relationship with fans, where social media is a channel that keeps them relevant in between the things they do that actually make them a celebrity," Solis said. "(Publicists) will encourage celebrities to share more natural shots, but not completely unmade-up shots."

For McCord, who said posting the photo was her reaction to society's unrealistic standards of beauty, the act was just "spur of the moment. ... I wasn't even wearing Chapstick."

"I was angry," she said. "There are days where you just want to scream something to the world, and with social networking we can."

But it's not just the pictures celebrities share via social media that attract attention. On Tuesday, Us Weekly published the headline, "Beyonce Wears shorts, almost no makeup at Broadway show," along with a picture of the fresh-faced singer.

Demi Lovato received similar attention last month when E! praised the 19-year-old for tweeting a photo along with the message: "No makeup."

People are either looking at these photos to see a celebrity's imperfections, to make them feel better about themselves, or because they're a fan and they find it endearing, Solis said. But just like fans have different reasons for looking at such photos, he added, celebrities have different reasons for posting them.

While some people in the public eye might share a makeup-free photo to "build a more natural relationship with their community," others might be blindly oversharing or merely pretending to foster a more organic relationship with fans, Solis said.

It loses something when the celebrity is posing in a beautiful setting with their hair done, and hoping it gets picked up by a magazine, he said, adding, "Like, 'here's a staged shot of me looking natural.' "

McCord said she was on Skype when she decided to post a picture of herself without makeup.

"I was looking at (myself in the inset) and I was like, 'You know what, I don't care ... that I have little dots on my face sometimes,' " she said.

Unsure, at the time, of how people would react to the photo, she added, "I thought, 'You can excommunicate me from Hollywood if that's what having blemishes does.' "

Unlike the responses elicited by the candid photographs taken of McCord in Vancouver, fans and media outlets have praised the actress for her post.

"I was just reacting," she said. "But because my reaction was to own what (the tabloids) were saying about me, I took the wind out of their sails, so to speak."

McCord said many of her followers have thanked her via Twitter, and that one follower responded by posting her own makeup-free picture to the social networking site.

"I wake up and I go to work and I have a whole makeup and hair team make me up the way people usually see me," McCord said. "I'm like a little doll. ... I don't try, in my personal life, to live up to that. ... I'm very au naturel. I like to let my hair down. Let my skin breathe."

And the actress hasn't gone back.

Sporting only foundation and Burt's Bees tinted lip color of late, she's named her new makeup regime "the Dominic Purcell-look," after her boyfriend, who she said encourages her to flaunt her natural beauty.

Whether more celebrities will follow suit in their daily lives remains to be seen. But, as Solis said, as long as people are receptive to such photos, you can bet the stars will be tweeting.

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