September 28, 2023 | FEATURES | By Hannah Smith
When many young women today reminisce on their middle and high school days a few things may pop to mind: how incredibly cool they felt when Brad – captain of the football team – asked them to the homecoming dance, how incredibly not cool it was when they suffered from a major breakout that same day, and last but not least, Kylie Jenner’s freaking lip beauty kit.
In the early 2000s, many trends were dominated by body glitter and Britney, lip gloss, bronzer, the smokey-eye and of course liquid eyeliner. In 2016, the youth’s search for the next beauty trend was tunnel-visioned on Kylie Jenner. Teenagers everywhere were talking about Kylie Jenner’s drawn-on lips, heavy foundation, and excessive contour use.
According to a 2016 Elle Fashion magazine report, there’s no denying that Jenner’s constantly sold-out lipsticks had a hand in the 553% increase in searches for “nude lipstick” and 267% increase in searches for “matte lipstick.”
Beauty fads are nothing new – and in 2023 – there was most definitely an “UNO reverse card” pulled on the Kylie Jenner heavy makeup looks. Today, beauty industries are dominated by a new fad focused on natural beauty – also known as “clean beauty,” the “no-makeup makeup look” or the “effortless beauty trend.” According to a Jan. 2023 New York Times article, clean beauty had 5.6 million hashtag views on Instagram and 1.2 billion on TikTok.
In a May 2023 article in Glamour, writer Lisa DeSantis said, “We’ve been seeing the no-makeup makeup look everywhere lately, especially on the red carpet. Celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Zendaya, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Halle Bailey have all been putting their natural features on display with a more subtle approach to their glam.”
This new trend picked up speed following the pandemic, said Venya Patel in a Personal Care Insights article. Patel touches on the fact that with the rising popularity of TikTok and influencer culture after quarantine, younger generations “have found themselves in the spotlight by simply being themselves; embracing self-love and individuality.”
According to Patel, natural makeup trends incorporate cosmetics that accentuate natural beauty rather than concealing imperfections, while avoiding ingredients linked to harmful health effects.
This means that many no-makeup looks entail extensive beauty routines with “naturally derived,” “cruelty-free” and “non-toxic” products. After all, if one’s natural skin is in the spotlight with less makeup coverage, the pressure is on for skincare.
Although this trend is focused on a “less-is-more” approach to beauty, many of these more organic products – and the routines to uptake the effortless, natural look – can be costly. The $29 Kylie Jenner LipKits from 2016 do not hold a candle to, say, a 30-milliliter bottle of Tata Harper’s elixir vitae serum with barley juice, borage leaf and sea buckthorn; which costs about $490.
Even if trend-followers pursue less expensive skincare products, celebrities, and influencers like Jenner – in the above Glamour article– are setting the norm for natural beauty. However, what youth media viewers don’t see behind the “natural” photos are the hundred-dollar facials, dyed lashes and eyebrows, and the multi-thousand dollar laser treatments, to name a few.
In a 2023 Allure article, Hailey Bieber – a figurehead in the natural beauty trend – divulged that she spends $768 on skincare products. The laser treatments she has done on a regular basis, called laser resurfacing, are upwards of $2,509 a session.
This doesn’t consider how the natural beauty trend may bleed into standards for older generations. Despite being an open proponent of natural aging in the media, Jennifer Aniston, 54, has admitted to receiving plastic surgery and fillers over the years. Once again, setting a double standard for authenticity in the “natural beauty” trend surfacing the media today.
While self-love and cruelty-free products are a positive, there is one dirty secret about this clean beauty trend rebranding looks on Met Gala red carpets and taking over Instagram.
These supposedly “effortless” and “low-maintenance” looks take much more behind-the-scenes spending than they let on, often adding hours and dollars to one’s skincare routine and appearance upkeep.