TikTok subcultures are taking the app by storm, giving beauty lovers new trends to fit their personality on a regular basis. Frequently, marketable aesthetics are boiling to the top of the pot—from minimalistic “clean girls” to emotionally expressive “sad girls.” After seeing a 150% increase in popular fashion and beauty aesthetics in the past six months, consumer intelligence brand Synthesio researched over 8 million social media posts, hoping to gain insight into what makes each subcultural trend tick. The company’s report, Decoding Internet Fashion: 20 Aesthetics for 2023, highlights the most popular trends with the highest user interaction. In the context of beauty, BeautyMatter has selected the five subcultural aesthetics that stand out and present the most significant opportunities for brands and their marketing strategies:
Baddie: Originally gaining traction from Instagram, the "baddie” aesthetic promotes looking casual with a hint of glam: matching tracksuits complemented by a full face of makeup and perfectly straight hair. Long acrylic nails featuring nostalgic designs (as shown by @nailz_by_dev) are another baddie style statement.
The aesthetic is not new to social media and rose to popularity in the mid-2010s, taking inspiration from the likes of Kylie Jenner and model Cindy Kimberly. Makeup styles feature what is now referred to as "2016 eyebrows" (bold, heavily filled in, and defined with concealer), as well as overlined lips and heavily highlighted brows and cheekbones. The trend on TikTok now has over 229.4 million views under its hashtag. @Daniellaramirez8077 gives a tutorial on the best "baddie" makeup, beginning with a highly defined brow and full-coverage foundation. Contour is featured frequently throughout the video, with the nose, cheeks, and jaw “snatched in,” or highly sculpted. Ramirez instructs her followers to apply a sharp, long cat eye on top of smokey-brown eye makeup, followed by large false eyelashes. The look is completed with overlined red lips and highlights across the focal points of the face.
Old Money: This aesthetic is inspired by looking rich, not in the typical modern-day style, but instead with a vintage twist. #Oldmoney has over 3.6 billion views on TikTok and looks to celebrity icons such as Marilyn Monroe for style inspiration. The aesthetic has two variations: everyday styles and old Hollywood glamour. For the more casual looks, "old money" makeup is a hybrid of “clean girl” beauty elements mixed with a hint of shimmer. As demonstrated by @ivistefanovaa, the look consists of dewy makeup with heavy blush, neutral brown eyes with hues of gold packed on top, subtle winged eyeliner, and a peachy-pink lip. Hair typically follows the '80s-inspired blow-dry―fluffy and bouncy with large waves. A similar base is replicated but mattified with a final result of old Hollywood glamour makeup. A bold, black, winged eyeliner is applied, accompanied by heavy mascara for extreme volume. Following this aesthetic element, a bright red lip is a statement go-to for all. For women, hair typically follows styles with tight curls flowing down the back, and for men, curtain bangs and mullets are a frequent fixture.
Coastal Grandmother: Collating a total of 285.4 million views under its respective hashtag on TikTok, “coastal grandmother” holds a similar element of looking rich to “old money” but takes on more of an Americana vibe. Despite its name, this trend has nothing to do with actually being a grandmother and is executed by consumers far too young to become one. The coastal grandmother aesthetic focuses heavily on neutral colors, cashmere jumpers, and frequent visits to the beach. This aesthetic also emphasizes the beauty of simplicity, being minimalist, and owning only the necessary products needed at one given time.
@Carlyvandyke_ showcases the minimalistic element of the trend, giving a beauty tutorial on achieving the look with a limited number of products. She begins with the application of a hydrating, dewy serum, followed by a tinted sunscreen and Vaseline on the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, brow bone, and eyelashes to make these areas shine and stand out. This look is all about being perceived as having just spent the day at the beach and looking effortlessly beautiful. Hair is also styled simplistically, with beachy waves, small braids in free-flowing hair, and messy buns a go-to.
Art Hoe: Rooted in a passion for art and nature, those following the “art hoe” aesthetic are naturally creative and express this through their appearance. With over 211.6 million views under #arthoe on TikTok, it is clear that many resonate with the trend. According to Synthesio, the art hoe aesthetic originated on Tumblr and was widespread across the LGBTQ+ and Black communities and has since risen to re-popularity on TikTok.
As the trend originates from artistic individuals, each makeup look expresses creativity in different ways, with defining elements of bold and expressive makeup choices. @zoekimkenealy expresses her take on the aesthetic, showcasing "vampy art hoe" makeup. The look includes a dewy base, burnt purple glittery eyes, bold kohl eyeliner, and a deep berry, shiny red lipstick. Other looks focus on brighter colors, including bright pastel yellows and burnt oranges. @Lauthepotatoo demonstrates a sunshine yellow eye with a subtle purple waterline decorated with white spots in place of an eyeliner wing. @Tayasian, along with several others, explores the popularity of the color orange within this aesthetic, with their tutorials instructing users to apply heavy amounts of orange-toned blush and eyeshadow, as well as long eyelashes and fake freckles.
Angel Core: With over 171.3 million views on TikTok, “angel core” embodies an ultra-feminine aesthetic inspired by ethereal energy and the idea of heaven. The aesthetic is also referred to as "white goth" at times because it parallels typical gothic dark elements but in lighter hues. All things that replicate a gentle approach to life (as determined by the Internet), including flowers, lace, embroidery, and subtle glitter, are a high priority to those following the trend. Throughout several videos under the TikTok search result for angel core, a famous scent is showcased: Miss Dior, an essential "soft" smell according to the app's users that further emphasizes the beauty of femininity.
Makeup for the angel core aesthetic always takes a similar soft and subtle approach. A video by @xx.kindakind.xx showcases the best example of angel core makeup. In the clip, the creator applies minimal base makeup that allows the pigment of her skin to shine through. She applies an auburn brown eyeshadow to replicate eyeliner across her lid, then sweeps it out into a large wing. The brown is then complemented by a subtle champagne shimmer shade, duplicating the previous wing's shape. She adds a thin layer of mascara to amplify the creator’s already long and wispy lashes. The look is finished off with a sheer coral lip gloss. Hairstyles associated with this aesthetic follow a general theme of silky-looking, long hair styled into dainty buns, braids, or left free-flowing―often styled with lace and bows.
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