Behind the Sudden Rise in Minimalist Beauty

Getty / Anton Vierietin

There’s been a noticeable shift in the beauty industry. While trends are ever-evolving – we’re not in the same place that we were five years ago or even five months ago – it’s impressive just how much things have changed in this post-pandemic world (if we can even call it that yet). Minimalist beauty trends have crept their way into every category (hair, nails, skin, makeup, even cosmetic and plastic surgeries) replacing the over-the-top, super-in-depth practices that we might have sworn by for the last few decades.

Not that long ago, we were painting our fingertips with maximalist designs, combining multiple nail-art trends into one manicure. We were taking an extra 10 minutes every day to blend together the perfect smoky eye, contour our cheekbones, and bake our makeup just for a regular day at work. The celebrities we loved had breast augmentations and Brazilian butt lifts and full-face beats on 24/7. Now, however, the trend has shifted: these days, less is more, and we’ve quickly adapted our beauty routines to reflect that.

“The pandemic had a major impact on our beauty routines,” Megan Lavallie, makeup artist and beauty content creator, tells POPSUGAR. We know: you’ve heard it a thousand times over just how much of an impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on society, but it’s true. “A lot of people only did their makeup and hair when they hopped on a zoom call. We got used to seeing ourselves without makeup every day, and therefore, it made us appreciate our natural features,” she says.

“We got used to seeing ourselves without makeup everyday, and therefore, it made us appreciate our natural features.”

All signs point to the minimalist shift, including the current top searches on Pinterest. “During the height of the pandemic, we had the highest searches ever for wellness, including topics like skincare and natural beauty,” says Swasti Sarna, senior insights lead at Pinterest. That cultural reset that occurred during the pandemic paved the way for TikTok’s “that-girl” aesthetic and all of the minimalist beauty trends that followed. “Pinners have been increasingly searching for minimalist beauty trends, particularly the ‘clean girl aesthetic’ trend,” Sarna. Searches for ‘clean girl aesthetic makeup’ and ‘clean girl hairstyle’ have each increased over 80 per cent in May from the month prior.”

Current minimalist beauty trends include the fresh-faced, “skinimalism” look (think: fluffy, lifted brows, freckles coming through your foundation, lip oils and glosses instead of matte pigments, and lots of blush), barely-there manicures (like milk bath shades, the ’90s supermodel nail colour, and Hailey Bieber’s viral glazed-doughnut manicure), and effortless off-duty model hairstyles (claw clips, slicked-back buns, and sleek ponytails).

Even the world of plastic surgery, which arguably is and should be at least a little less trend-focused, has been influenced by this shift back to more natural results. That’s what paved the way for the popular lip flip treatment and lead to many celebrities removing their breast implants and BBLs. We’ve done a full 180 from the trends that dominated the 2010s.

But why now? In part, it may be because we needed a palate to cleanse from where we were. “It seems to be a reaction to how over-the-top and wild nails were getting for a while,” Eunice Park, manicurist and Aprés Nail‘s research and development manager. “Now everyone seems to be trending back towards more natural, wearable nails.”

Devin Toth, a hairstylist at Salon SCK in NYC, adds: “From a technical approach, minimalist hair trends give you the most bang for your buck. They’re the easiest styles to create and give super eye-catching results. Whether it be slick-back ponytails, supermodel buns, statement claw clips, one-length bob or lob with no layers, or even solid blonde hair colour.” (The latter being another huge trend we’re seeing, à la the “Pamela Anderson blond” hair colour trend.)

We’ve also just gotten more used to seeing ourselves sans makeup and learned to embrace that. “Pinners want to embrace their natural beauty and stick to quick and time-saving beauty routines,” says Sarna. Lavallie adds: “That’s what minimal makeup, hair, and nails is all about: it allows your unique features to shine. It has become less about covering yourself up, and more about the individual underneath.”

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