A New Look for a New World


This is what the new way to wear makeup is all about.

After years of romanticizing “no-makeup makeup,” a catchall for the products to give the illusion of a “bare” (yet perfect) face, people are opting for self-expression as they weigh their appearance in a largely post-lockdown world. Many are back to socializing, eating out, vacationing, going to the office, events and, soon, holiday parties, and they’re hungry for ways to express their individuality.

The pandemic is one of few experiences that affected people all at once at a global scale. Those who were trapped at home, reduced to three inches of real estate on video calls, are now looking to identify or showcase themselves as special or unique. Makeup is one of the most approachable, affordable ways to do that, and it gives the opportunity, at its purest form, to be an artist with a blank canvas and a paintbrush.

“There is a huge collision of cultural trends that are affecting the reinvention of makeup,” said Sam Cheow, the global head of makeup innovation, portfolio and product development of the Estée Lauder Companies, including lockdowns, social media, Gen Z and a more discerning shopper. “People hate to be told that ‘this is the trend.’”

It’s why the pandemic ignited a makeup rebirth in terms of how we apply it, the products and colors we use, and our attitudes toward beauty. Modern makeup is meant to reflect what’s going on inside; it isn’t about looking hot or as if you’re not wearing any at all — it’s colorful, expressive, imperfect and meant to be seen.

According to 1010data, which analyzes consumer habits, online makeup sales in the United States (lip, eye and face categories combined) have increased by 29 percent in 2021, compared with 2019.