2016 makeup is trending — love it or hate it, here’s how to do it

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It’s official: 2016-style makeup is trending again, but those in the know are divided on the look. Some consider it as the best era of makeup, while others are making fun of themselves for the matte lips and dramatic brows they used to sport. Whichever side you’re on, here’s our guide to the trend…

A lot happened in 2016. Donald Trump won the US presidential election, Beyoncé released her Lemonade album, the Rio Olympic Games took place, legends David Bowie and Prince unfortunately passed away, and Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar. But for the beauty community, makeup trends were also huge news, with influencers having to create more outrageous content in order to stand out. As a result, the internet now looks back on 2016 with a weird sense of nostalgia, recalling sharply carved out eyebrows and bold eyeshadow (with lots of glitter) combined with base makeup and lips that had to be matte.

It was very different to the makeup trends of today, where the minimal and clean girl  looks reign supreme. Recently, however, we’ve seen beauty creators revive 2016’s makeup looks, predicting that they will make a comeback this year. Will this be an actual trend or just a fad reserved for beauty content creators? We have to admit, the clean girl makeup aesthetic may look good, but for some makeup enthusiasts it may feel a bit boring, and it’s unsurprising that they could want to go back to something bolder and more creative.

@bretmanrockDoing my favorite era of makeup – 2016 yuh ….♬ original sound – bretmanrock

Why is 2016 makeup popular again?

In 2021, a TikTok trend that saw makeup artists creating their 2016 makeup on half their face, and their 2021 makeup on the other half, gained popularity. Later, in summer 2023, @makeupbyalinnaa posted a video about missing 2016 makeup and it being the best makeup era. More recently, makeup artists turned social-media stars such as Bretman Rock and have posted videos about this iconic era of makeup — although Bretman Rock has expressed his concern over the look becoming popular again and his hope that it’s just a moment of reminiscence.

Is the cost-of-living crisis the reason behind the trend?

The ‘lipstick effect’ is an economic theory suggesting that when consumers face financial hardships through economic crises, sales of luxury lipsticks and similar small items go up.

Could the 2016 makeup look be the new lipstick effect? Are people itching to go back to 2016 because they remember it as a happier time, when makeup was bold and colourful, and Kylie Jenner-style lips were all the rage?

@anifetoupeva Trying out the @Kylie Cosmetics lip kit for the first time in a WHILE #makeup #makeupreview #kyliejenner #kyliecosmectics #kylielipkit #lipstick ♬ original sound – Anife

Trip down memory lane… Some of 2016’s popular makeup brands

Kylie Lip Kits

When Kylie Lip Kits came out in November 2015, they sold out in seconds and paved the way for 2016 to be recognised as the year of matte lipstick. Since then, Kylie Cosmetics has grown to include more makeup items such as foundations and lip oils. A line of baby products, Kylie Baby, has also launched — showing the growth not only of the company but of Kylie Jenner herself.

 Morphe 35O Palette

The Morphe 35O palette was a staple for many makeup and beauty YouTubers in 2016. The neutral palette included 35 colours with both matte eyeshadows and glitters — everything required to create 2016’s hottest eye makeup looks — and was so popular that the 35O 2 was released in October 2017.

Artis brushes

The 2016 foundation tool of choice was the Artis brush. Its super-soft bristles blended out foundation for a flawless look, making it an incredibly popular despite its relatively high price. Despite the hype, however, it quickly fell off social media and was forgotten about.

How to recreate 2016 makeup in 2024

The 2016 makeup look can seem confusing, with some makeup artists and beauty creators not seeming to follow a strict routine. Foundation first or last? When to do the eyes? Concealer on top or under foundation? Our advice is that it probably doesn’t matter — you can simply follow personal preference. For this guide, we’re referencing a multitude of different tutorials from 2016, but feel free to change the order.

Primer? Don’t know her. We start with the eyebrows.

Step 1. Eyebrows.

Big, drawn-on eyebrows were all the rage. Using Made by Mitchell Colour Case, draw straight lines (as in the image below) to create the ultimate 2016 brow look. Fill in the space and brush out the ends to blend out the eyebrow. Don’t forget to carve out your eyebrows with concealer to give that extra pop and blend out onto your eyelids and forehead.

Step 2. Eyes

A look that involves using eyeshadow to define the crease of your eyelid can be as complicated or as easy as you want it to be. Start by drawing a line with concealer, or a light eye shadow, just above and along the crease of the eyelid, following the curve of your eye. With a fluffy brush, gently apply eyeshadow (whatever colour you choose) around the line, not dipping below it too much. Any mistakes you make can be corrected with concealer, which is needed to get that perfect cut crease.

@muariana Welcome to class 👏🏽 #eyeshadowtutorial #cutcrease #eyemakeuptutorial #makeup ♬ Aesthetic Girl – Yusei

Once happy with the blending and how your eyeshadow looks, use concealer to clean up the eyeshadow and blend below the original line created, over the rest of your eyelid, creating a new canvas for the rest of your eyeshadow. Here, you can go for whatever eyeshadow look you want, whether smoky or glittery.

Finish your eye makeup with some fluffy lashes.

Step 3. Foundation

In 2016, foundation always had a matte finish. We recommend the Too Faced Born This Way Matte Foundation, or Fenty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation.

Cover your entire face with foundation and blend out (including onto your neck) either with an Artis brush, for the authentic 2016 look, or a beauty blender.

Step 4. Contour

Contour in 2016 may have gone slightly overboard, with contouring cheekbones, forehead, nose, chin and jawline very much the done thing. Using the Made by Mitchell Colour Case, you can create the perfect contour shades for yourself. Blend, blend, blend.

Step 5. Lips

As we’ve mentioned, everything had to be matte and that included lips. For the authentic 2016 look, go for a Kylie Lip Kit or Charlotte Tilbury matte lipstick.

Ta-da! You’re done with the 2016 makeup. Will the trend be here to stay or are we having fun reminiscing about old times? Only time will tell.


Written by Stephanie Adams

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