Over the past few years we’ve been inundated with “clean girl” beauty looks. A trend on TikTok, with over 90 million views on the #CleanGirl hashtag, the idea fits neatly into this decade’s emphasis on wellness over everything and calling the 2020 makeup adaptation “no makeup”. While each video varies slightly, they generally feature dewy skin, well brushed brows, blush and a dash of mascara for an overall “clean” effect. Many creators taking part in the trend are also combing their hair back into a low ponytail or bun, with a center part (of course), Y2K hair clips and little jewelry. It’s a look you might also recognize as the signature of the likes of Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid.
While every decade has had its modeling beauty aesthetic out of order, it was only a matter of time before there was a riot against the highly curated “clean” aesthetic. Concurrent with the rise of the “clean girl” there has also been a growing interest in grunge makeup and emo eyeliner. This year, creative agency and internet and youth culture specialists The Digital Fairy coined the next phase of beauty as “post-wellness party girl beauty” in a viral video. “‘Indie sleaze’, and its messy party girl, is on trend throughout fashion and culture, from Effy Stonem’s nostalgia to Mary-Kate Olsen’s battered Hermes Kelly and wine-stained Balenciaga bags that take over moods board, “Biz Sherbert, Culture Editor of The Digital Fairy, said NYLON. When it comes to makeup, she thinks Paris Hilton is photographed at the club with a smudged black and silver eye makeup and a 00s obsession with polished lips with the painfully voluminous DuWop Lip Venom.
The new “party girl” beauty trend that’s pushing out the clean aesthetic was pioneered by the likes of Julia Fox and her much-discussed black-out eyeshadow and trends like the shaggy wolf cut, both of which encourage the mess that is inherent in DIY Beauty Looks. She is also bleeding into the skincare space, where new brands advertise products by encouraging, or at least allowing, less regimented healthy lifestyles. 4AM Skincare is proposed as a way not to correct your “bad habits”, but to “help your skin avoid the consequences”. Then, there’s Emma Chamberlain’s new skin care brand Bad Habit, which is marketed under the slogan “You don’t always have to be good to always have good skin.”
Another brand that promotes balance over perfection is Gen Z cult Youthforia, which sells “makeup you can sleep in”. Fiona Chan, founder of Youthforia, says she wants to create clean and sustainable products that are safe to sleep in to remove the guilt of coming home after a night out and going straight to sleep, because who has never been there before? “Youthforia was created to make me have fun with makeup again, in a way that has worked for me and my lifestyle, which can be messy at times,” she says.
Chan thinks the “holiday party” beauty trend was born out of a refusal to fit the mold. “I think before the pandemic it was more fashionable to follow the aesthetic of Instagram and we used to edit all our photos the same color to make our grid ‘aesthetic’,” she says. “The beauty of party girls is a reaction to the rigidity of following these rules: it’s fun and free, sometimes it’s messy but it’s real.” The irony is that being a “party girl” has become a new aesthetic to follow, with trends like TikTok’s “night luxury” tag creating an obsession as hard to find as the “clean girl” look.
Whatever mood you’re in, there are plenty of tutorials on TikTok on how to get there. You can try a minimal look, then on other days have fun with the other 2000s trends and embrace some clutter. After all, the only cleaning that really matters is making sure you wash your face and makeup brushes regularly (which is something we should all be doing more regularly). On the other hand, you don’t need to be out partying until 4am to get an authentic smudged eyeliner look. Despite the flaws in trying to follow any on-trend aesthetic, we’re just thankful that the “clean girl” trend finally has its antithesis: it takes the pressure off all of us to always look stylish and saucy.