Hot chocolate, creamy woolen knits, ochre leaves—cold weather is an ode to earth tones. That said, while fall/winter palettes are certainly going strong, this season's beauty offerings feel different. At NYFW, fresh-faced looks were eclipsed by sculptural hair and colorful eyeshadow smudged to the brow. On TikTok, Twiggy-esque, intentionally clumpy lashes are going viral, and it seems as though we’ve unilaterally agreed that we’re riding out 2021 with a statement lip.
Note Cosmetics’ detailed trend research, culled from search engine data, reveals that the top 10 up-and-coming beauty trends include black lipstick, violet mascara, and eyeliner on men. (Though a Byrdie deep-dive points out that makeup on guys is more than a passing trend.) Whether these looks upend gender norms or the expectation that bright colors should stay in summer, across the board we’re seeing playful, dramatic looks that feel both artful and free-spirited. Makeup feels fun again. And while I, a self-proclaimed lover of decadence, couldn’t be happier, I’m also curious as to why we’ve chosen this moment to embrace beauty maximalism.
Product packaging is also shifting into something beyond the standard millennial minimalism: In a sea of sleek, desaturated product design, brands like Topicals and Vacation stand out with bold graphic design and retro fonts, while Youthforia’s Y2K slumber party energy spills from its Lego-like stackable product design into its website and product descriptions. The brand’s mission statement is a rush to read: “Crushes, summer break, long chats that last till 3 a.m. Getting the giggles with your best mate, hungover af, waiting for microwave mac and cheese. The lights going down before your favorite band starts playing. Being completely in it, and taking it all in. Like if confetti was a feeling."
Colorful cosmetics are eye candy, for sure, but they’re also an accessible way to re-decorate your living space. Cheaper than new paint or furniture, and useful to boot, adding playful products into my routine has had the unexpected effect of transforming my boring bathroom counter into a space to escape and create.
Whether they’re toying with design rules or gender norms, we’re in an era of playful, dramatic looks that feel both artful and free-spirited. Makeup feels fun again. And while I, a self-proclaimed lover of decadence, couldn’t be happier, I’m also curious as to why we’ve chosen this moment to embrace beauty maximalism.
In some ways, the timing makes sense: We’re on the heels of newly reopened restaurants, bars and music venues, and we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. This time naturally calls for celebration; combined with a collective cabin fever and a taste of social interaction, it’s no wonder we’d want to start the party early. And, the heat lamps from last year is more conducive to outdoor gatherings, making it easier to pull off bold or glossy lips sans mask. (Who among us doesn’t have a collection of N95s smeared with gloss attempts gone awry?)
I also think decadent cosmetics are part of a larger cultural conversation. Trends have natural lifecycles, and as much as I love cottagecore, I think it’s normal—and refreshing!—for '60s prairie dresses to evolve into rococo gowns and '70s psychedelia. I’ve noticed a rise in #royalcore, content that encourages regal dressing anywhere and everywhere (and currently boasts 181.8M TikTok views). Luxury picnics—marked by Marie Antoinette-approved snacks, more gowns, and makeup to match—are also having a moment. This time last year, we were barely two months into Folklore on repeat; today’s looking-moodily-out-a-window anthem is Adele’s “Easy On Me,” a decidedly more theatrical sadgirl soundtrack. In short, maybe makeup feels playful and dramatic right now because everything feels playful and dramatic right now.
I, for one, am excited to go for baroque—after all, if you’re already in distress, why not go full damsel? If you’re looking for a little escapism in your own beauty routine, there’s a cornucopia of products for exciting, creative makeup that doesn’t sacrifice wearability.
Released mere weeks ago, Deck of Scarlet’s fall offering is a triple threat: Comprised of two talc-free powders and a shimmery gelee, the trio is designed for buildable glow on all skin tones. It’s a versatile and user-friendly pick for anyone diving into maximalist makeup.
Proving once again that Rihanna can do no wrong, Fenty’s new take on their popular gloss bombs forgo shimmer for slickness—and a compound the brand scientifically refers to as “Plump Job Complex.” Plumping ingredients like ginger root oil and capsicum fruit extract are balanced with shea butter, so you can maximize your pout without pain, even in chapped lips season. To hit two trends with one gloss, opt for the rich Hot Chocolit tone.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara
This drugstore pick is still TikTok’s holy grail mascara. Users are now getting even more fluffy, feathery volume with what makeup artist @makeupbylxna has dubbed the “Zick Zack.” Basically, Zick Zacking (I’m going to assume that’s grammatically correct) entails gently pulling your eyelid taught, holding your mascara wand at a vertical angle, and zig-zagging it back and forth across your lashes. Follow with a normal coat (wand horizontal), and you’re good to go.
I hadn’t heard of a “crying lip” before designer and vintage curator Stacey Nishimoto coined the term on Instagram, but I immediately recognized her full, smudgy, romantic red pout as an It Girl look I’d long appreciated but had been unable to perfectly replicate. Luckily, Nishimoto’s tutorial makes the look simple and shockingly wearable. The secret? Pink liner—Nishimoto uses Lime Crime lip liner in Pinky Swear, which is sadly sold out—coral red lipstick, and plenty of Q-Tips.
Jason Wu’s models floated down the NYFW catwalk with dreamy sea foam eyeshadow smudged across their lids, and I’ve been coveting their look ever since. The finish is key here—I’m all too familiar with the unfortunate aquamarine-to-turquoise-glitter pipeline. Ofra’s iteration has a subtle satin finish that keeps the look polished, even when opting for organic, experimental application. Plus, the magnetic case is easy to refill, making it a chic and environmentally friendly choice.
L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Deep Violet
Pigmented brows have held the spotlight for the past year, and colorful lashes feel like a flirtier take on the playful trend. Get ahead of the trend by investing a violet mascara now—the color compliments both light and dark eyes without overwhelming the rest of your look.