Since the pandemic set in way back in 2020, the beauty world saw a shift from our penchant for perfectly contoured full-glam looks to the rise of skincare obsessees. And so the “clean girl” aesthetic was born.
Chances are your social feeds have been full of glazed donut-skinned girlies walking you through their daily skin care routines and tutorials on no-makeup-makeup. But as much as we love to see fresh-faced selfies, we have totally missed the creativity and self-expression that comes with experimenting with makeup. So we were beyond thrilled to see the emergence of dopamine beauty.
What is dopamine beauty?
Dubbed “dopamine glam” by Beyoncé’s makeup artist Sir John, dopamine beauty is the antithesis of the clean girl era. Where this aesthetic favours neutral tones and an almost invisible layer of makeup which leaves those of us who struggle with acne or rosacea feeling a little out of the loop, dopamine beauty is all about colour and experimenting with unconventional looks. The aim? To boost your mood and activate a physical dopamine hit.
The trend is essentially an extension of 2022’s beloved fashion trend, dopamine dressing. This movement was the fashion world’s answer to the post-COVID climate, in which a glimmer of hope grew and we all dared to look on the bright side again. Designers ditched their classic monochromatic palette for bold, colourful designs and embellishments, and rather than dressing to impress, we were encouraged to dress for ourselves in whatever brought us joy.
To truly understand the significance of dopamine beauty, it’s important to understand what dopamine actually is and how it is triggered. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone in your nervous system that sends messages between neurons.
Think of dopamine as your body’s very own rewards system. It works on a cycle of motivation, reward and reinforcement, and is activated when your brain is expecting a reward. When you’re doing something that gives you pleasure, like eating chocolate, having sex, or exercising, your brain releases endorphins, and in the wise words of Elle Woods, “endorphins make you happy”.
These endorphins trigger a higher release of dopamine in the body, which makes you want more and so you seek out more of the activity that led to the happy high.
But it’s not just physical activity that promotes dopamine production. Colours such as lemon yellow, pink, blue and orange have also been shown to boost dopamine levels and lift your mood. It’s why colour therapy exists. And also why dopamine glam was coined.
How to tap into the dopamine beauty trend
Like dopamine dressing, this trend is all about donning feel-good colours, patterns and all-round creative spirit.
That doesn’t mean you have to draw sunflowers and rainbows on your face and cover yourself in diamantes (although you definitely can if that’s what brings you joy). There are so many ways to add a hit of dopamine to your daily look.
When it comes to dopamine makeup, it can be as simple as wearing a bold lipstick or adding a little more blush. TikTok’s obsession with orange blush is a great place to start, layering a coral hue to your desired coverage (hint: the bolder, the better).
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, experimenting with graphic liner or face gems to create a unique look that feels like you is sure to activate your daily dose of dopamine. Or you can take a leaf from Sir John’s dopamine glam book and add a pastel hue to the inner corners of your eye.
But dopamine beauty isn’t just limited to your face. Simply adding some colourful statement barrettes to your ‘do will brighten up your day, and if you’re feeling like spicing it up a little, Millie Bobby Brown’s butterfly ponytail is sure to dial your dopamine levels up to eleven (hehe).
And why not keep the dopamine flowing from top to tips by trying your hand at nail art?
However you decide to style it, dopamine beauty is one trend we hope is here to stay.
Ready to add a splash of colour to your everyday look? Here are our favourite blue eyeshadow looks to get you started.
Main image credit: @notkyraslooks
Georgia Nelson is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty & Social Editor and resident Euphoria obsessee. You'll find her hard at work putting the latest TikTok beauty trends to the test or perfecting her skin care routine. Her latest obsession? Nailing the glazed donut aesthetic (move over, Hailey Bieber).