I’m not on TikTok for the beauty trends – shocking, coming from someone who writes about beauty for a living, I know. I’m really just there for the memes and a break from Instagram’s unwavering, manufactured perfection. But everywhere I turn (er, scroll), I’m met with videos of “clean” beauty tutorials that reek of that same unattainable perfection. Not “clean” as in clean ingredients, clean as in the looks themselves, which usually consist of sleek, slicked-back hair, skin that glows enough to blind passersby, and very minimal makeup involving sheer complexion products, lightweight mascara, and a little bit of tinted lip balm.
If you search #cleanlook on the app, you’ll find hundreds of videos, mostly tutorials, accumulating more than 22 million views. You can also find the clean look on just about every A-list model these days. It seems to be the off-duty hair and makeup of choice for Hailey Bieber, Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, and the like. Here’s the part where you get mad at me: It bores me to fucking death.
There’s nothing wrong at all with keeping makeup and hairstyling minimal, so if that’s your game, you do you (hell, I do it all the time). It’s the fact that the internet is so, so entranced specifically with the “clean look” that sets me off. Because, y’all, it’s literally a repackaged version of no-makeup makeup, and that shit has been around forever. There’s nothing new or revolutionary happening here.
Once I had that realization, it all clicked: People aren’t really demanding clean-look tutorials because they don’t understand how slicked-back hair works or that tinted sunscreen exists. It’s because the primary people who go viral or are known for emulating the clean look have straight or wavy hair, clear skin, naturally full brows, and are — you guessed it — young, white (or light-skinned), thin, and conventionally attractive.