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What “Ugly Beauty” Tells Us About the Future of Makeup

Woman putting on exaggerated makeup of purple eyebrows and pink cheeks

“Ugly beauty” has taken over social media, introducing an exciting and potentially counterintuitive counterpoint to traditional beauty standards. Nevertheless, many people, including celebrities, are embracing the ugly beauty trend via interesting and unconventional looks. 

As of fall 2023, the hashtag #UglyBeauty has over 14 million views on TikTok. Here, we’ll take a look at the ugly beauty movement, why it’s popular, and what tells us about future makeup trends. 

Table of Contents
What is the ‘ugly beauty’ movement?
What trends define the ugly beauty movement?
Why ugly beauty is on the rise
What ugly beauty tells us about the future of makeup

What is the ‘ugly beauty’ movement?

The concept of “ugly beauty” refers to a form of aesthetic appreciation that challenges traditional notions of beauty. It suggests a certain allure or attractiveness in things usually considered unconventional, strange, or even traditionally unattractive.

This idea often manifests in art, fashion, and design, where creators intentionally deviate from conventional beauty standards to create something that evokes a different aesthetic pleasure. Ugly beauty can be about embracing imperfections, asymmetry, or unconventional elements that challenge the viewer’s expectations. For example, in fashion, designers may challenge traditional standards by incorporating unconventional materials, shapes, or patterns that challenge the viewer’s expectations.

The concept of ugly beauty is subjective, and what one person finds appealing, another may not. It often invites individuals to reconsider their preconceived notions of beauty and appreciate the unconventional and unexpected.

What trends define the ugly beauty movement?

Below, we delve into some makeup-based looks associated with the ugly beauty trend:

Mismatched or asymmetrical makeup

Woman with shaved head wearing asymmetrical goal makeup

Mismatched or asymmetrical makeup can include uneven eyeliner, intentionally asymmetrical eyebrows, or different-colored eye makeup that brings attention to the look because it “looks off.” Sometimes, this can be subtle, which makes a person unsure about what is strange about the look, or more aggressive, like the photo above. 

Bleached or shaved eyebrows

Woman applying makeup with no eyebrows and green eyeshadow

Many people have embraced the no-eyebrow look by bleaching or shaving off their eyebrows, which creates a startling and potentially unsettling look to many. #NoEyebrowMakeup has over 152 million views on TikTok, while #BleachedBrows has over 126 million views. 

Simulated crying

Woman with smudged black makeup under their eyes to make it look like they’ve been crying

On TikTok, people are also embracing the #CryingMakeup trend, which uses makeup to capture what it looks like after the person has been crying. This look goes against traditional beauty norms and fully embraces the messy makeup aesthetic. 

Overdrawn lips or exaggerated features

Two women with different skin tones wearing white lipstick

Embracing exaggerated features, such as overdrawn lips or intentionally overdone contouring, also challenges traditional notions of subtle and natural makeup.

Unconventional color choices

Women with blue and orange splatter painted on the middle of her face

Unconventional color choices can also be a feature of ugly makeup, which may involve using clashing color combinations or applying makeup in unexpected areas. 

Messy or grungy aesthetics

Ugly beauty also incorporates a messy or grungy aesthetic, which might involve smudged eyeliner, intentionally disheveled hair, or an overall “undone” appearance. “Messy” can also be achieved in a more intentional and artistic way, like in the photo above.

Highlighting imperfections

Rather than concealing perceived flaws, ugly beauty practitioners have taken to highlighting or embracing so-called imperfections. This might include everything from showcasing acne and scars to other unique features.

Clashing textures

Two women face-to-face with stickers on their faces

Experimenting with textures that might be considered unconventional adds to the overall ugly beauty trend aesthetic. This can include over-applying jewels, stickers, or other objects to the face.

Why ugly beauty is on the rise

Ugly beauty is not just another social media trend but a reflection of current cultural trends. A big part of the recent popularity of ugly beauty comes from an over-saturation of beauty online and how overwhelmingly focused it is on perfection. 

Ugly beauty is therefore seen as a way to reclaim individualism and self-expression. And, for many, ugly beauty is a way to intentionally make people uncomfortable as a means to challenge traditional beauty norms. 

The result is a refreshing and new take on what beauty can be, paving the way to make people who may not feel particularly supported by conventional beauty standards and who instead embrace beauty in a way that makes them feel comfortable. 

Woman painted in dark purple makeup with Instagram art on their face

What ugly beauty tells us about the future of makeup

Beauty standards are changing, and more and more people are embracing their individuality and challenging norms. 

While the products consumers use aren’t necessarily different from what they’ve always sought out, the way that they use them may differ. This trend is therefore helping to drive innovation in product development and pushing brands to design makeup that enhances unconventional or unique features, such as makeup that emphasizes freckles or skincare products that celebrate natural textures and variations in skin. 

It then pays for businesses to offer a wider variety of makeup products, celebrate unique features, and avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to beauty

But the most crucial takeaway is that to be successful a brand’s marketing must also adapt. Businesses must think about diversity and embrace individuality when it comes to marketing strategies, taking special care to engage with their target consumers through social media. This could involve featuring models and influencers who do not fit traditional beauty standards, showcasing the beauty of imperfections, and promoting authenticity over idealized images.

Ugly beauty is also likely to impact the design and packaging of beauty products. Brands might opt for unconventional and bold designs that challenge traditional notions of beauty, helping to create a unique identity for the brand that resonates with consumers looking for something different.

Whether you’re looking for makeup, packaging, or an overview of the products currently taking over the market, you’ll find everything you need on Alibaba.com.

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