The rise of minimalistic makeup – and why this time it’s different
Every makeup hack you thought you knew has changed
By Samantha McMeekin
Editor / July 14 2021
Makeup trends are forever evolving, but every so often a wave of change comes along that outlasts a season and simply remains.
No-makeup makeup is one such concept that’s transcended over the years, and while its ethos is nothing new, the way in which we do it now has been completely reinvented.
A cool corner of the makeup world has become completely minimal; this time trading in the long list of products layered generously over skin, for a real deal light-on-everything look.
It may have started with Glossier, but it’s grown to new pared-back heights through the likes of TikTok and the D’Amelio’s.
There’s of course still a place for impressive transformations, and our love for loaded looks will never die, but there’s certainly a new wave in town and it’s rocking the way we used to do things.
The 'triangle of youth’ has been traded for ‘face-lifting concealer’
Countless concealer triangles have been crafted over the past decade, with the infographic for this technique splattered across all avenues of the Internet. But the ‘cover your dark circles’ method has been given the boot in favour of a ‘face-lifting' technique that leaves the cheek and direct under-eye untouched.
Instead, concealer is applied minimally to the inner corner of the eye and again from the outer corner at an upwards angle, before blending. The result? An eye-opening and lifted illusion that’s light on the camouflage.
Image: Getty + @withlove.nadia
‘Winged liner’ has been traded for ‘soft shadow liner’
Those years you spent crafting the crispest liquid line you could manage? Wasted. But at least the new alternative is more shaky hand-friendly. These days flicks are created with a softer brown liner or eyeshadow for a whisper of a wing that flatters the eye without being so ‘statement’. Understated is in, after all.
Say bye-bye to baking
If you could never be bothered piling on a bunch of powder, leaving it to sit and then swiping off the excess, you’re in luck. Baking is currently on its farewell tour and instead, powder is being used traditionally and minimally again. Simply press or dust it lightly onto areas in need of shine control. The simplicity really makes you wonder why we ever let it get so complicated in the first place.
Image: YouTube/Kim Kardashian West + Getty
Blush has been embraced
Justice for dewy rouge cheeks everywhere; blush is having a big ol’ moment. Gone is the blinding use of highlighter on high points of the face, where instead cream-to-liquid-like blush is being blended to flushed perfection.
If the memory of highly pigmented apples haunts you, remember this is minimal makeup. The products are sheer, the layering is light and skin looks like skin. Rather than concentrating a coating of magenta in one area, pigment is being placed strategically upwards towards the ears, with a smattering across the nose too for a realistic finish.
Image: Getty + @zezahbaragbah1
Contouring and highlighting has evolved
The sharp, heavy lines that once promised us chiselled noses and slimmer jaw lines have been swapped for more subtle shading. For some, this means paring it back with pop art-like dots blended to shaded perfection, while others have switched back to a light dusting of powder to add their dimension.
Either way, highlighter and the excessive use of concealer to draw in light have taken a back seat, while skin care drives the glow game instead. Natural highlighting now starts before foundation is even considered, with moisturiser, oils and the right priming products preferred to create that lit-from-within sheen.
Kylie’s OG lip kit era is over
Kylie Jenner's billion-dollar business boomed during a time when it was a liquid matte lip or nothin'. Even a natural look called for a slightly deeper than skin tone shade. However, the flat dusty finish doesn't quite fit in with the minimal aesthetic and as a result, gloss has made a mega comeback. Lucky for Jenner, she saw this one coming.
Whether it’s a clear coating or a tinted balm, lips are no longer lacquered in colour that won’t crack. Comfortable, juicy-looking pouts have taken their place and we couldn’t be keener.
Image: @maryphillips + @lauraharrier