Alicia Keys on Honoring Her Heritage Through Her Hair: 'I’ve Always Felt Royal When I Wear Braids'

For Alicia Keys, beauty is more than just about how she looks. It's about embracing her heritage.

The star, who covers Glamour UK wearing her hair in braids and gilded beads, said her natural style "is such a gorgeous expression of our individuality and deserves to be respected."

"I’ve always been proud of wearing braids and I love learning about the power of hair," Keys, 39, said. "I’ve always felt royal when I wear braids. There’s something so beautiful about the Blackness of it, about my African ancestry that I just feel truly connected to.”

She continued, "I read a book once that was our story [and history] through hair and through braids, and I learnt how in each tribe, your position was actually told through the style in which you wore your hair; and we should accept the uniqueness of it. There’s definitely a lot of freaking messed-up hair culture that exists."

Also in the interview, the Grammy-winning singer explained how her style and beauty choices were influenced from her experience growing up in the heart of New York City. “A lot of my fashion and beauty sense comes from being so exposed to the streets at a young age," the star said. "I always had to be conscious about my toughness, about my boundaries and my clothes, so I was always very pared down in what I wore.”

RELATED: Alicia Keys Details How She Unwinds at the End of the Day — and Her Favorite Skincare Products

Later this year, Keys is bringing her wellness philosophy to her fans with the launch of her own lifestyle beauty brand, Keys Soulcare, which was partly inspired by her battle with acne.

“I’ve always had a challenging time with my skin and having to figure out how to manage it, and be in the spotlight. Having to constantly be in this crazy cycle of putting on makeup to cover the bumps and scars and then because I had makeup on under the hot lights, there were more bumps and scars. I felt like I had to hide everything and I felt really self-conscious," Keys told Glamour UK.

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According to the brand, Keys Soulcare will provide self-care and skin care content on its website and weekly newsletter to go hand-in-hand with the product "rituals" which will launch. The first "ritual" to launch is a signature sage and oat milk candle and two soon-to-be-revealed skincare products — which will become available for holiday 2020 before the complete collection drops in early 2021.

"For me beauty is about the soul and the heart and the spirit and what comes through you, comes out of you. And so it's more than just the surface," Keys said. "It's a deep conversation about who we are and who we want to be and where we're going. It's a passion of mine, a deep passion of mine that has been years in the making."

Glamour UK's Autumn/Winter 2020-21 print edition is on newsstands now.

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