The beauty trend cycle is moving quicker than ever, thanks to TikTok. The social platform has given birth to many niche aesthetics, both old and new. Even makeup styles that were once nameless now thrive on TikTok— with a new name, hashtag, and a crowd of loyal followers.
While many of the recent looks on our FYP have skewed more pared-back (i.e., "the model-off-duty aesthetic"), the newest TikTok makeup trend is a complete 180. Over the last few months, the "indie sleaze" look of the 2000s has recently gained a lot of attention (over 40 million hashtag views, to be exact).
The aesthetic is all about messy, worn-in makeup (think: smudged eyeliner from the night before). Sometimes associated with the "rockstar gf" look, indie sleaze is actually reminiscent of the hipsters of yesterday. Basically, indie sleaze is for everyone who likes to cry in their makeup and wear it out the next day.
While Y2K makeup looks have resurfaced for some time, indie sleaze brings new meaning to the 2000s. Rather than pastel eye shadow or frosty lips, indie sleaze is characterized by heavy eyeliner, messy eye glitter, untouched brows, and the occasional red lip. The look references the party girl era of 2005-2011. It draws inspiration from early fashion bloggers, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen party looks, photographer Cobrasnake, Effy Stonem from Skins, and American Apparel outfits. And, of course, their looks are a nod to the rock 'n' roll era.
"The way I would describe indie sleaze style is the disheveled party girl look with a rocker edge," says Kathryn Margaret Rose, a TikToker who once belonged to the indie sleaze scene (though it wasn't called this at the time). "The makeup of the time was honestly an afterthought. This was pre-beauty guru YouTube."
Why Indie Sleaze Is Coming Back Now
With a heavy emphasis on DIY, most of the looks from that period were done sloppily on the car ride to a party. The makeup looks then were way less intentional than they are now, and maybe that's what's so intriguing about them. In a time of elaborate cut crease looks and intricate graphic eyeliner, it's refreshing to have a going-out look that's easy to accomplish.
"[Over] the past 10 years, [the beauty world] has emphasized perfection and being photo ready," Rose says. "The coolest thing about the makeup from before the 2010s is that nobody worried about that." The carelessness of the party girl scene contradicts everything we know about spending hours on your makeup to take Instagram pictures. However, it's indicative of the current state of beauty. Over the last few years, there's been a noticeable return to a more carefree, expressive approach to makeup.
How to Get the Look
While the makeup of the indie sleaze era was messy because of the endless hours spent partying, you can now emulate that same aesthetic with no partying required. "What I liked was how I could go out and party all night and then wake up the next morning, and my eyeliner had not moved at all," says Coco Layne, another partygoer from the era. Layne vividly remembers doing their makeup at red lights on the way to parties. With little to no worries about technique, you can easily accomplish the indie sleaze look with products you already have.
More than anything, Layne recalls wearing a lot of eyeliner. First, they started by applying the iconic Urban Decay Primer Potion ($24) to maximize eyeliner wear time. As for eyeliner, Layne suggests using the Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner ($9). Pile on as much eyeliner as possible and smudge it to your heart's content. While a thick cat eye was popular, too, it's a bit harder to do in the backseat of a moving car. For mascara, Layne recommends any waterproof drugstore variety. Waterproof is the way to go when you're unsure what the night may bring.
Glitter eyeliner is a way to take your indie sleaze makeup look to the next level. You can use one of Urban Decay's Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliners ($22) to smudge glitter on your lower lash line. "All of the Urban Decay glitter eyeliners and makeup palettes had everyone in a chokehold," Layne adds.
Finally, Layne suggests spending as little time as possible on brows and foundation. "Brows weren't as important," they explain. "It was mostly all about the heavy eyeliner. And since this was before tinted moisturizers and BB creams, the foundation options were all high coverage. For an authentic indie sleaze look, skip the foundation or fully commit to a full-coverage look. Finish with a bright pink or red lip, and you're ready to hit the hottest party, no reapplication necessary.