Beauty trends tell you a lot about the cultural moment.
The carved out contour and full beat signified 2010s Instagram perfectionism, just like vibrant 80s makeup was a big nod ‘yes’ to disco culture.
We’re in a new decade now, that got off to the most bizarre of starts, with makeup took a backseat with various lockdowns and mask wearing.
But now we’re in a fresh season, feeling more confident about navigating the world, and with parties ahead as the end of the year nears.
So beauty is back after a period of wearing less and being more functional than playful (such as putting on just enough to look ‘done’ in Zoom calls, but not in the way you’d normally mix, blend and apply).
It’s the perfect time, as autumn is always an exciting moment in beauty: new products launch en mass, trends change, and Christmas lines are revealed.
Terry Barber, director of artistry at MAC Cosmetics, says: ‘The fact that this AW coincides with emerging from a pandemic where makeup pretty much took a back seat, has definitely resulted in a more experimental season with a new excitement around makeup.
‘Styling is encompassing everything from raw 90s inspired street-chic beauty to full disco glam with bold colour and high gloss details.
‘It’s definitely a step away from the generic, Insta style beauty which ruled the last decade.’
While some key pillars of autumnal beauty will make their mainstay appearance (such as a vampy lip or smoky eye), there are some new things to look out for, such as glossy textures which tend to be more apparent in the summer.
Here’s a round-up of the trends to watch out for.
Colours and tones
Jo Baker, celebrity makeup artist, says makeup can be a ‘reflection of the seasons’, so as we move into gloomier months, looks get that bit moodier and colours deepen.
The difference this year – perhaps a sign of our getting used to wearing less – is that traditional autumnal colours (orange, plum, forest green) are being worn in subtler ways, with colours appearing ‘muted’, Jo explains.
From eyes to nails, these downplayed versions of classic autumnal colours are showing, such as in Nailberry’s new limited Time To Hygge collection, which uses rich colours that don’t feel particularly bold.
One of Jo’s favourite looks for the season is to wear deep green eyeliner – a colour that’s having a moment in itself.
‘From a distance it looks black, but close up you can see it’s slightly different,’ she tells us, adding that green is a little softer when framing the eyes.
Her favourite product for this is Sisley Phyto-Khol Star Waterproof in Matte Jungle, which glides easy for precise liner or can be smudged out like shadow.
She says doing this allows you to try something new with your makeup, while keeping it wearable and subtle.
‘People just want to look the best versions of themselves,’ she says, so it’s not about simply going for full drama when incorporating trends into your look.
New colours are having their moment, as Terry adds: ‘The use of colour, over multi-shaded neutrals, is probably one of the biggest new movements, whether that’s a high glam jewel toned eyes which look like you’ve just stepped out of Studio 54, or more delicate “blush eyes” in dusty coral, sand or petal pink for fresher, more effortless beauty.’
It’s a breakaway from the beiges and browns that experts are putting down in favour of colours that perk up the face.
Terry’s trends for playful, autumn and winter looks
Terry Barber, MAC’s director of makeup artistry, says these are trending makeup looks of the moment.
‘A vinyl mouth is a timeless classic and possibly one of the easiest statements you can make in beauty.
‘The joy of Clear Lipglass is how it gives an almost surreal level of shine which means you can get away with wearing very little else.’
‘The effortlessness and cool of the ‘90s is a recurring theme in beauty and working in some grunginess has become a new design classic.
‘Whether that’s an angst-y black line, using Eye Kohl in the waterline or adding balm to the lids for a more slept-in glam.’
‘The idea of a gorgeous glassy skin texture is definitely getting a reality check – with glistening good health replacing robotic coverage and heavy-handed highlighter.
‘It’s an all over glow that works in life, using products like Strobe Cream not just with selfie filters.’
Textures and finishes
Years ago, AW editorial looks were synonymous with matte finishes. Jo says these days are – for now, at least – over.
‘People want their skin to look like skin when it comes to foundation – glowy skin is what’s dominant now and healthy skin is on trend all year round,’ she says.
The ideal finish is ‘featherlight weight’ with the ‘ability to make skin look better without seeing any product at all up close’.
It’s about swapping a foundation for a tinted moisturiser or hybrid product like Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation which has been reformulated recently, or sheering a product out with a reflective primer, such as Vieve Skin Nova which has been a sellout.
Terry echoes this sentiment, explaining: ‘Even though there’s a new excitement about returning to makeup, its combined with a new consciousness about how much people wear and how it’s styled.
‘People are seeking foundation products which have a more skincare quality to them and colour which is beautifully textured and not overdone.
‘Transparency and luminosity are key to new beauty rather than dense coverage and packed on pigment – even a full face of glam is about showing some skin in luxurious, enhancing textures.’
In line with a more radiant complexion, lips, lids and cheeks are getting shinier too as gloss has its moment once again.
Jo’s favourite for clients is Lisa Eldridge Embrace Gloss in Songbird, which for her enhances and lifts the face in a natural way, while gloss catches the light.
As coverage lessens, texture and finish become all the more important, which is perhaps why we’re seeing shine take centre stage.
Glossy product finishes are being seen in brands like Jones Road, who just launched a new Lip and Cheek Stick and Tower 28, whose coveted BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm sits comfortably on skin (all without coming at the expense of pigment, as this is where balms can fall short).
Techniques and application method
Application is steering away from perfection, towards smudged, blurred and unprecise makeup.
‘Mixing and layering are definitely the techniques of the moment,’ Terry says.
‘Customising your skin products by mixing bases and concealers with skincare for the perfect sheer finish, or rubbing colour into your features to create tints and stains which enhance you rather than transform are techniques which makeup artists have always used but now are resonating with everyday makeup wearers.’
Makeup by Mario’s Master Metals palette is a dream for this, given that it can be used with a liquid to manipulate the texture from powder to foiled cream, leaving the potential to customise the colour itself through combining shades.
Milk Makeup’s new Bionic Blush, having launched years after the brand’s popular first blush line, was also made for this style of application.
The brand’s global studio artist, Sara Wren, says: ‘You can use whatever method you like best to put it on – your fingers, a makeup sponge, or a brush.
‘We recommend shaking the tube, then squeezing a small dot onto the back of your hand so you have control over how much color you build up.’
Mismatched methods that allow you to really enjoy the process of putting makeup on also are quick, usually easier, and play well to cream products that brands are continuing to release due to demand.
Hair trends are an extension of makeup this season
Just as shiny, glossy textures are being amplified in makeup, the same is happening in hair.
London’s new Vinyl Gloss treatment
Percy & Reed salons are running a new Vinyl Gloss treatment until the end of the year which is about ‘giving you the best version of what you have’.
Paul Percival, founder of the brand, tells us the service uses ‘an amino free liquid gloss that tones and glazes the hair.
‘The formula is infused with wheat acids that help to condition the hair and leave it looking super shiny.’
The product to get the look at home
Brown hair, typically speaking, has more natural shine than hair that’s been bleached, which can be prone to dullness as dye dries out the shaft.
James Pecis, session stylist for Oribe, tells Metro.co.uk individuality and what’s ‘natural’ is what hair trends are embracing this season – as is the case in makeup.
‘I think that since people have been celebrating the way nature has created them, brown hair has become the new blond because the majority of the world is a shade of brown.
‘Most people have brown hair of some degree so they are going to the salon for a gloss to give it extra shine and life or getting those greys covered.
‘The less you wash and dry, the longer the vibrancy will last.’
The brand’s newly launched Tres Set Texture Spray is designed to do the shine part at home. Reimagining mousses, it sets and strengths lengths, rather than sitting crunchy.
Speaking on the vibe of this seasons’ go-to looks, Terry says: ‘I guess if there’s a dominant feeling, is that it’s for yourself, not the approval or judgement of others.
‘You can choose the face you want, rather than one that’s offered to you by a strict set of rules. Its not about looking perfect, its about wearing your flaws really well.
‘Ultimately, what you go for in makeup is about what you want to say and how it makes you feel.
‘There is a new sense of looking cool, effortless, unique, self-assured and experimental.’
Time to get a green eyeliner.