Fact Check: Photo Purports to Show Dolly Parton Without Makeup. Here's the Truth

Diane Di Leonardo/Pinterest
Diane Di Leonardo/Pinterest


A photo authentically showed Dolly Parton without her signature makeup.


Rating: Miscaptioned
Rating: Miscaptioned

In 2023, a split-screen image circulated on Pinterest, purportedly featuring two photographs of country music icon Dolly Parton. Shown below, the photo on the right featured the singer's signature glamorous look of blonde wig and full makeup, while the photo on the left allegedly depicted Parton dressed uncharacteristically casually in a white tank top, her face unadorned with cosmetics, her natural hair scraped off her face.

The caption accompanying the photos stated: "Dolly without make up."

(Diane Di Leonardo/Pinterest)

Several people in the Pinterest comments pointed out that the woman on the left was not off-duty Parton, but rather, British-American model-turned-actress Nicollette Sheridan, who starred in ABC comedy-drama series "Desperate Housewives."

"That's edie Britt from desperate housewives," one follower pointed out, referencing the name of Sheridan's character in the ABC series, while another agreed, "This is not Dolly. She has tattoos of butterflies on her arms."

Those commenters correctly identified the woman on the left as 60-year-old Sheridan, not Parton. Therefore, we have rated this claim as "Miscaptioned."

To confirm the woman on the left as Sheridan, we took a screenshot of the photo and conducted a Google reverse-image search. We found the same photo on French-language entertainment website Purepeople and also in a Daily Mail article published in 2008. The headline on the Daily Mail story confirmed: "Barefaced not chic: Desperate Housewives star Nicollette steps out without her make-up."

Parton, 78, is famous for her high-maintenance fashions and is rarely seen in public without full makeup (or wearing one of her many wigs).

In October 2023, the "Jolene" singer told People magazine while promoting her style memoir "Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones" that there's only one reason she would ever be caught in public without makeup: "Death!" Per People:

"You'd just have to see me laid out on a stretcher," jokes Parton, before offering up a more serious scenario: "No, if my husband [Carl Thomas Dean] was sick, or if there was an emergency, of course, I would [leave the house without makeup]."


"If I got arrested for a bad tag or whatever, I don't want a mugshot looking like some of the stars I've seen," she says. "I'm going to clean up a little if I'm going outside, unless there's an absolute emergency, and it would have to be pretty serious. I would do it then, but that would be the only way."

While the photo incorrectly identifying Sheridan as Parton showed the former's bare arms that are visibly free of tattoo ink, Parton has often been the subject of rumors regarding her apparently secret tattoos, which she hides under long sleeves and stage costumes.

In another feature from People magazine in 2020, the country music legend revealed, "I do have some tattoos, that's true," adding, "But they're tasteful. I'm not a tattoo girl." According to the outlet:

"My tattoos are pretty, they're artful and they usually started out to cover some scar, not to make a big statement," she says. "Ribbons and bows and butterflies are the things that I have. I was very sick for a while and I had to wear a feeding tube. It left a little indention in my side and I didn't like it because I'm so fair that scars turn purple on me.


"I like to make positives out of negatives. I had a little beehive tattooed over it — a little yellow-and-brown beehive with a tiny little bee on top of the hive. The mouth of it is that little sinkhole."

Curious about whether Parton has had any cosmetic tattooing to her face (such as microbladed eyebrows, eyeliner and lips), Snopes reached out to her team, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

Having long been the subject of rumors claiming she goes to bed in her makeup and removes it in the morning for fresh application, in a 2019 interview with The New York Times, Parton admitted that it's true, even while traveling between concert stops while touring: "I clean my face in the mornings. You never know if you're going to wreck the bus, you never know if you're going to be somewhere in a hotel and there's going to be a fire. So I leave my makeup on at night and clean my face in the morning."

In 2020, Parton was interviewed by drag queen and TV personality RuPaul for Marie Claire. Again addressing the chatter that she sleeps in her makeup, she told the "RuPaul's Drag Race" creator and host, "I have to always stay ready—street ready, I always say. I have to keep my makeup on and keep my hair done. Like, when I'm in L.A.—I've told you about it—if it's going to earthquake, if we get an earthquake, I'm not running out in the street looking like you look now. I have to be ambulance-ready at all times, if I get sick or something. But I actually do wear high heels most of the time. They're not always as high as the ones I wear for show. But I'm little. I'm short. And I have to wear heels in order to reach my cabinets."

In sum, given the extensive evidence indicating that the split-screen photo does not feature Parton without makeup and is instead a photo of actress Nicollette Sheridan, we rate the claim as "Miscaptioned." The photo does not represent a rare sighting of the singer without her signature full face of cosmetic products, and Parton has always taken great pains to not be seen in public looking anything other than camera-ready.

Snopes has previously reported on Parton, including the time she covertly entered a Dolly Parton look-alike contest and lost to a drag queen, and the satirical claim that she recorded songs for a new album with the heavy metal band Slipknot.


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