Beauty Maximalism is Back, and These Brands are Proof

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

There's a larger cultural conversation happening.

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 ishonest 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."

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

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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, 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.

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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

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.

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