Sure, Gen Z already has plenty of accolades under its belt (embracing body positivity, making informal email sign-offs a thing, and taking a stand for mental health), but if this gen is going to do one thing, it’s turn everything into an aesthetic. From Coastal Grandmother to the summer of Side-Character energy, and now, the TikTok clean look beauty trend—style mavens in their late teens and early twenties know a niche when they see one.
While I’m all for letting go of main-character energy and Diane Keaton has a way of making any and all cardigans a much sought-after purchase, it’s that last cultural moment, the so-called “clean look,” that gives me pause. It’s a salient trend that has the ability to evolve from a simple hashtag to an entire personality trait, and it’s one of the newest aesthetics to find success outside of TikTok and start a new wave in beauty and makeup.
Featured image by Teal Thomsen.
What is the TikTok clean look beauty trend?
In short, it’s a natural makeup look characterized by glowy skin and slicked-back hair. But it’s not just for Gen Z. This trend is my newest beauty obsession for ultimate, effortless confidence.
And while “you look so clean” might feel like a strange compliment, as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time and energy on my skincare routine, the TikTok clean look beauty trend has a certain appeal. No more will my blemish-prone skin be subjected to layers of contour and foundation.
Instead, this skin-first approach champions your natural, unique beauty and inspires you to work with what you have to highlight your favorite features.
Is the clean look easy to recreate?
The appeal of this aesthetic is its attainability. As a self-professed skincare girl, makeup is not my forte. I prefer to play to my strengths—and time constraints. For me, the TikTok #CleanLook inspires me to level up my look, without completely changing it. It’s a more whimsical than my minimal approach to beauty. And whether you want to look put-together at the farmer’s market, or you’re tired of your contour palette and are looking for a low-maintenance routine, there’s a Clean Girl in all of us.
While you can probably create a version of this look with the products already in your closet, the rise of glowy, skin-first routines mean there’s a cornucopia of clean-look products just waiting for you to explore. Here are the ins and out of the TikTok clean look beauty trend and all the products that will help you achieve it.
Breaking Down the TikTok Clean Look Beauty Trend
#CleanLook or #CleanGirl on TikTok is the newest iteration of the no-makeup makeup look. Instead of the highly contoured (re: complicated) looks of yore, the Clean Look celebrates your natural beauty.
Like most things on TikTok, the trend is an amalgamation of a few preceding trends: the “That Girl” archetype and her slicked-back bun; TikTok’s emphasis on crowdsourced skincare routines that actually work; and our collective, constant yearning for glowy summer skin.
Makeup tutorials by TikTok users XO Lizah and Eva Rankin were the first to go viral. These users got tens of thousands of TikTok followers in a matter of days when the video goes viral, and it didn’t take long for more people to hop on to this burgeoning trend. Then, users began to adopt this aesthetic to show how universal it can be. Popular makeup creators like @radhika.p18, @laurynwill_, and @mylifeaseva went viral displaying the look on different skin tones and hair types. Soon, it went from an ephemeral trend to a full-blown aesthetic. And here I am, obsessed.
What does it mean to look “clean”?
Obviously, anyone can look “clean.” The accessibility of the TikTok clean look beauty trend is what makes it appealing. It’s easy to imitate and works on everyone. It’s a way to highlight your own natural features, instead of trying to look like everyone else.
Unsurprisingly, the clean look puts a big emphasis on skincare. Even more than most no-makeup makeup routines, this trend prioritizes skin that actually looks like skin (ditching the idea that you need a full-coverage foundation).
Is the clean trend the same as clean beauty?
It makes sense that a generation raised on Glossier pioneered the TikTok clean look beauty trend. It’s full of makeup that doubles as skincare, products you can dab on with your fingers, and an emphasis on looking dewy and glowy.
But don’t be fooled. The clean look doesn’t have anything to do with clean beauty. However, many of the hero products do use natural, clean ingredients to promote skin health.
Achieving the clean look won’t make you shell out on expensive products either. While some creators flash their Chanel Glow Highlighting Fluid or Dior Lip Oil, other creators like @_keeees_ achieve the look with Ponds Face Cream and drugstore makeup.
More than anything, clean girl makeup is simple, breathable, and easy to use. It’s multi-use products galore. It’s light coverage. And trust me—it’s about to be your new go-to routine.
How To Create the TikTok Clean Look Beauty Trend
Start with the skin
You can’t get the TikTok clean look beauty trend without a clean face. This cult-favorite cleanser uses fulvic acid to gently exfoliate the skin while plum extract nourishes and licorice root fades dark spots for a more even complexion.
Start your routine by upping your glow. Every product in the Clean Look line-up is specifically chosen to make your skin brighter. Antioxidant-rich serums and skin-plumping moisturizers are clean kook staples. Good news: This serum does both. With hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and Kakadu plum (which is packed with 100x more Vitamin C than oranges), it makes your skin plump and bright. The perfect canvas for your clean look.
Sunscreen is one of the most important steps in any routine. Since the clean look is all about improving overall skin health, there’s, of course, a giant emphasis on SPF. And even sunscreens can help you achieve your glow! Slather on this upgraded SPF for a dewy, yet protective, base for your makeup.
For the ultimate lit-from-within glow, finish your skincare with this bronzing hyaluronic serum. Suitable for sensitive skin, it instantly creates a brighter canvas on any skin tone while visibly plumping for a barely-there golden tint. It’s the serum that looks how summer feels, and is a staple in any clean look arsenal.
Another classic way to prime your makeup for an all-day glow is the iconic Glossier Futuredew. TikTokers agree, this luminescent, plant-based primer works on its own or under your full, clean girl makeup look for a pearlescent sparkle that won’t suddenly turn from glazed to greasy.
Light make-up to enhance your natural features
This skin tint has become ubiquitous for any beauty lover who doesn’t necessarily want a full coverage foundation. It’s the now-classic base for the clean look before it entered the lexicon. Niacinamide soothes irritation and redness, SPF protects from UV damage, and the buildable tint provides the perfect amount of coverage. Plus, it comes in 30 flexible shades!
This tinted sunscreen is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin. Approved by the National Eczema Association, it evens redness without causing product-related irritation. Bonus: The non-greasy formula glides onto your skin effortlessly.
Most of the clean look tutorials skip full-coverage foundation in favor of intentionally placed concealer. Ditch the drama of heavy contouring and instead, highlight the corners of your eyes, nose, and mouth with this cloud-like creamy concealer that gives you better skin over time. It seamlessly blends into your skin and gives you an instantly brighter, more awake look.
A relatively new brand, but Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez has proven itself worth its stripes on TikTok. This liquid highlight has quickly amassed a cult status amongst anyone aspiring to the clean look. Get it while you can to secure a luminous glow!
This moisturizing highlighter is another favorite. To achieve an almost wet, just-washed look, opt for creamy, liquid products like this marshmallow textured highlighter. You can easily dab on this dewy balm with your fingers for a more natural, illuminated glow.
Whether or not thin eyebrows are coming back (Kylie Jenner’s been dropping rumors… ), it’s safe to say the natural look is more on-trend than overly lined, overly penciled-in brows. Accentuate your natural shape with fluffy, volumizing brow gel. This treatment gel conditions and volumizes brows as it lifts and fluffs. Each use promotes healthier, fuller brows.
If the Clean Look tutorials have taught us anything, it’s that the more a product can do, the better. Streamlining your routine also means streamlining your color palette by using products in more than one place. This multi-stick is perfect for your cheeks and lips, giving you a buildable wash of color. Pro tip: Swipe it over your nose for a sun-kissed flush.
Spritz this illuminating mist over skincare or makeup for a boost of dewy hydration and a subtle, glittery glow. Spray liberally and often.
Be Mindful of Your Hair Health, Too
The OUAI Finishing Creme
The signature hairstyle of the TikTok Clean Look beauty trend is the slicked-back bun. This hair cream is one of the most touted by TikTokers of all hair types—from fine to curly—for a moisturizing, heat- protecting, and edge-sealing finish.
Another trick of the clean look? Wearing a leave-in hair mask to strengthen and condition your locks on the go. For that, Olaplex is the obvious choice. This lightweight treatment gives your hair a weightless definition that promotes hair health and long-lasting shine.
For dry or damaged hair, this length-repairing mask works on your hair as well as on extensions to prevent breakage and replenish moisture. Get the full-bodied hair of your dreams with natural oils for deep moisture.
One TikTok beauty secret you might have missed? The power of rice water. Promote hair growth without having to strain your own rice water with this revitalizing spray. Before you finish your routine, spritz this leave-in conditioning spray in a halo all over your finished hair look for ultra-light moisture from root to tip.
The product that launched a thousand TikToks. Endorsed by prototypical clean girl Hailey Bieber (whose new beauty line, Rhode Skin, is keeping the TikTok clean girl beauty trend alive), this all-natural hair pomade is the cure to all your flyaways. This niche hair stick gives you the clean girl look with one sweep on your hair for perfectly laid edges—plus, it’s easy to reapply!