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We’re in the middle of a complete shift in the beauty industry. Over the past few months, you may have come across the “clean-girl” aesthetic, “clean-girl” nails, or the minimalist beauty boom. No matter where you turn, it seems barely there beauty is the ideal aesthetic. Well, that’s about to change.
Scroll on TikTok for just a few minutes, and you’ll likely come across the term “indie sleaze.” The phrase is a nod to the Tumblr beauty aesthetics of the late ’90s and early ’00s, and it’s well on its way to returning to mainstream pop culture. “When you think of indie-sleaze makeup, it’s all about a ’90s grunge, slept-in makeup, and kind of undone eyeliner as the main attraction,” makeup artist and content creator Jonet Williamson tells POPSUGAR. “Skin can be super bare or full coverage with little to no contouring.” Why is the look trending right now? Attribute it to a pendulum swing. “Indie-sleaze makeup is a nice break away from the perfectly curated makeup looks that have taken over for most of the year,” Williamson says. The look has also been spotted on runways (see Tom Ford’s spring/summer ’23 New York Fashion Week show, for example). So if you’re over perfectly slick buns, subtle eyeshadow looks, or barely noticeable nude lips, your time is now.
The indie-sleaze trend may have you reaching for some products that you’ve neglected for quite some time. “This aesthetic is encompassed by smudged-out black eyeliner; matte eyeshadows in charcoal grays, browns, and blacks; messy glitter; and balmy lips,” Williamson says. To get the look, it’s as much about technique as the products you use. “For eyes, try using a black kohl pencil and smudging eye brush to fluff out the shape that you’re aiming for, starting at the lash line,” Williamson says. “Don’t be afraid to get a bit messy and create quirky shapes. Also, adding a touch of glitter or balm to the eye is also a cool way to glam it up a bit.” For the lips, Williamson recommends using a nude, pink, or berry balm or lip gloss but to skip lip liner to preserve that “intentionally undone” feeling. To bring the look home, brush up your brows and load on the mascara — the clumpier, the better.
If you’re looking to get ahead of the trend, some products that Williamson recommends stocking up on include the MAC Kohl Power Eye Pencil ($21), SimiHaze Beauty Velvet Blur Matte Lipstick Balm ($36), L’Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara ($11), and Makeup by Mario Master Mattes Eyeshadow Palette ($48). While you don’t necessarily have to jump on the indie-sleaze bandwagon, we must say there’s something unquestionably sexy about this entire look. So if you’re anything like us, your mood board is already prepped and ready to go. If you’ve yet to start planning for your own indie-sleaze era, get some inspiration for your look ahead.