Iconic Makeup Looks That Aren't That Hard To Recreate

Making your face up is an art. One needs to know just where to add the right strokes and swipes to achieve that head-turning, jaw-dropping goddess glow. But beauty isn't all that makeup enhances. Users would tell you that on a bad day, a touch of blush or a dab of tint on your lips can do for your confidence what no personality-building masterclass can. Gwyneth Paltrow nailed it when she said,"Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick" (via Goodreads). Good makeup can often shine through as your most glamorous aide as you stride ahead in life — and with the plethora of trendy makeup looks to choose from, every day can be an adventure! 

From the iconic winged eye to sculpted cheekbones or ever-dependable falsies, there is just so much to experiment with on your canvas of a face. And social media has only widened the scope to the extent that even Fenty premier Rihanna once hopped in on one of TikTok's viral makeup trends that involved eyeliner applied in reverse (via Cosmopolitan). With long-retired beauty trends (like frosted lips) making smashing comebacks, one can best believe that bizarre is a null concept in the makeup world. Nothing is off-limits, even toilet seat covers, which ace stylist Kerry Cole says are apparently a ready substitute for blotting paper (via Marie Claire). With that hot tip in mind, open that makeup kit, scroll on, and get painting! 

A pop of eye colour can do wonders

In a stunning revival of the bold and bright decade of 1980s makeup, neon pops and bright colors are back in business! All you need to elevate your look anymore is a single brush of flamboyant eyeshadow or animated eyeliner detailing. Graphic makeup has never been for the faint-hearted, but since its colorful comeback, driven by social media trends and the influence of makeup artists, it has taken more people into its embrace. "Whether you are expressive with makeup or are more shy, or perhaps stuck in a makeup rut, you can gain confidence and expression through a colorful eyeliner," celebrity makeup artist Molly R. Stern advises (via W Magazine). Go on, bring out your reds, yellows, lilacs, and blues!  

The simple yet effective fashion hack of going all-out with color on the eyes is also reminiscent of Y2K glory that has been making a splash with shows like "Euphoria" pushing its cause. For makeup artist Rowi Singh, whose face is a celebration of glitter and embellishments, a colorful aesthetic has been a longtime staple and a way to honor her South Asian culture (via Vogue): "Imagine if there was a brown "Euphoria" character." You can go to town with color on your eyes, experimenting with cat flicks to multiple outlines. A pro tip from Lancôme's Jasmine Ferreira is to pick colors that contrast and complement your eye color (via InStyle).  

The iconic red lip is an all-time classic

Makeup trends have waned and waxed, but the classic red pucker hasn't gone anywhere! With just a single stroke, the statement look has empowered wearers for decades. Synonymous as it is with bold, emancipated womanhood, the history of red lipstick can be traced back to the 1920s women's suffrage movement when protestors sported it as a symbol of rebellion — and to shock men! Rachel Felder, author of a book on red lipstick, told CNN that the makeup tool is "not just powerful, it's female." The red lipstick's status as a confidence booster has remained timeless through centuries, with women of significance in each era tapping into its power (per Good Housekeeping) — from Cleopatra to the two Queen Elizabeths and modern-day queens like Taylor Swift and Rihanna.

Of course, there's no testament more potent to the crimson lip than that by its enduring poster girl, Marilyn Monroe. The blonde bombshell's signature look, upon which classic fashion has long pivoted, was apparently the magic of Ruby Red by Max Factor (per InStyle). From retro Hollywood glam to contemporary chic, a rich red swipe can achieve all. To really make your face pop, MAC artist Rebecca Butterworth recommends keeping the rest of your makeup minimal when rocking a red pout (via Byrdie): "Let every single one of your freckles show through."

The sultry magic of a smoky eye is unmatchable

Once you've conquered the smoky eye, no makeup trend is out of reach. The be-all and end-all of makeup artistry, smoky eyes have long added oomph to the breadth of showbiz, from red carpets to runways. "There's a chicness to the simplicity of a dark eyelid and a transition shade through the socket — it's classic, so [it] will always work," MAC artist Dominic Skinner explains (via Harper's Bazaar). The sultry, untamed intensity it radiates is one reason this style has endured. The other is its inherent dynamism; the smoky eye has been open to interpretation throughout history, per The Vintage Woman. You can go in grunge and heavy or opt for a hazier smolder — the endless possibilities! 

What's the secret behind a perfect smoky eye? Vaseline and soot ... or so Hollywood legend Marlene Dietrich, with her seductive smoky eye, would have you believe (via English Heritage). But if you're not feeling all too vintage, then an eyeshadow palette should do the trick. According to makeup artist Amy Conway, layering is important to this makeup technique (via Glamour). The base coat should be a subtle shade, followed by a duskier shadow blended well along the lid and edges. The good news — it doesn't always have to be a black smoky. Blues and browns look just as sexy. And if you pencil in a smudge of liner, you've nailed Victoria Beckham's signature "clean, yet undone smoky eye" (via Grazia).

Elevate your cheekbones with clever contouring

Not everyone is lucky to be born with a high-cut face like that of Keira Knightley. But with the help of a few calculated, well-placed cosmetic lines, you too can get yourself a pair of what are apparently the world's most sought-after cheekbones (per Harper's Bazaar). To the rookie, contouring may seem like a daunting task. (Why are there so many lines? Where do each of them go?) If you're heeding Ash K. Holm's advice, all you need to sculpt your face is a bronzer two shades darker than your skin tone, besides your regular makeup essentials (via Elle). A kickstarter tip: it's easier to work with powders than creams.

Once you're done with the base foundation, swipe the bronzer along areas you would like to appear chiseled — cheekbones, nose, jawline. A few drops of contrasting lighter-hued concealer blended near the bronzer will bring out the angles on your face. Remember, good contouring doesn't have to be all out-there but is often enough as "just a subtle definition," according to celebrity makeup artist Vardan Nayak (via Vogue). And once you've mastered the art of contouring, maybe — just maybe — it'll land you an invite to one of those cheekbone polishing parties Benedict Cumberbatch is always going on about (via MTV).

The enduring charm of cat-eye makeup

You know a makeup look is really worth its salt if it weathers the test of time. The winged cat eyeliner, dubbed by Vogue as "the world's oldest makeup trick," has held an allure for centuries, its origins going as far back as ancient Egypt. From queens like Nefertiti and Cleopatra to even male pharaohs, all drew power from a dramatic shaping of the eyes with kohl, which supposedly offered protection from health hazards and the evil eye. The popularity of the feline look was further immortalized by the fountainhead of modern glamor: 20th-century Hollywood. Icons like Audrey Hepburn reinforced the timelessness of the cat-eye: "Her almond eyes were synonymous with the winged eyeliner that adorned them," makeup artist Celia Burton said of Hepburn, whose pairing of a cat flick with mascaraed lashes for a full-eyed look is legendary.

Changing fashion trends have catalyzed many variations of the winged cat-eye, be it Elizabeth Taylor's blue-shaded detail or Amy Winehouse's dramatic black stroke. A modern iteration of the look, which raged on TikTok, was the reverse cat-eye. Its standout feature, as Glamour noted, lies in the smoked-out waterline detail that stretches from your inner to outer eye. Funkier takes on the look are emerging, with wearers opting for brighter. colorful notes to contrast the classic black. "Cat-eyes are going bolder," per makeup artist Emily Amick (via Allure). "Think Julia Fox over Marilyn Monroe."  

Always a good day for a no-makeup, makeup look

Really going makeup-free just doesn't cut it. You've got to have some makeup on to prove it! This natural (and somewhat paradoxical) look is for the days you want to keep your cosmetic artistry on the down low. Don't let the name fool you — for it takes quite a bit of skill to make your face up so that it looks like you were born with it. A TikTok favorite trend, the no makeup, makeup look, is also known in Gen Z lingo as clean girl aesthetic and lo-fi makeup (per Refinery29), about the subtle, effortless beauty it aims to achieve. While there is some criticism for this beauty choice, it's a look preferred by makeup wearers everywhere — including Meghan Markle (via Vox)! 

Focused primarily on enhancing your facial features for a natural glow, this look is perfect for including in your on-the-go, everyday routine. Makeup artist Erin Ayanian Monroe prescribes a sunscreen base and concealer on the face, followed by natural tints to really make those features pop (via Byrdie). "I love to forego foundation altogether for everyday life," she said. Bobbi Brown, meanwhile, advises going in with foundation for good coverage before getting down to work on the cheeks, brows, lashes, and lips — minimally, of course. As Lindsay Katsuk aptly put it, the no-makeup glam is about "highlighting what's already there" (via Ipsy). 

Inner eye accents that turns heads

One of the most fun beauty trends on the list, inner eye accents can do for your look what no other makeup can. It's a thoroughly young, lively trend that lets you experiment with shapes and colors how you please. Glitters, neons, embellishments: anything goes when it comes to making your pretty eyes pop with just a little detailing around the ends. A memorable rendition of this smart makeup trick was flaunted by Zendaya at the 2021 premiere of her film "Dune," where she sported glittering violet accents that contrasted her deep smoky eyes (via Grazia). Makeup artist Raoúl Alejandre really knew what he was doing! Like him, you can pour the best of your creativity into the innermost corners of your eyes, either with a standalone bold color or by matching your accent to an outer wing (via InStyle).

Who knew the little space you associated with not much else except morning goop was actually a canvas of makeup possibilities all along? Of course, using eyeshadow to highlight those edges is a trick as old as Britney Spears' "Oops!...I Did It Again," when the pop queen rocked dabs of her trademark baby blue around the eyes to complement that iconic red latex jumpsuit in all its Y2K kookiness. As the inner eye trend resurfaces, sober shimmers have passed the buck to bolder, graphic imprints that are giving yellows and oranges the renown they deserve (via Maybelline). We're all here for it!  

Babe-ing it up with bronzer

A bronzer is like the friend everyone loves hanging out with for how warm and fuzzy they make you feel. An underrated tool, it's a makeup kit essential that will help you top off any look with that enchanting red carpet radiance. We know it's easy enough to get confused between bronzers and highlighters, given both seemingly accomplish the job of making you shine. Primarily, a highlighter will give your skin a dewy glow, while you'll want to reach over for the bronzer when seeking a toasty, warm hue (via Lifestyle Asia). When picking the perfect bronzer for your skin tone, it's best to do a test dab on your features under natural light to get an idea of the product's compatibility with your skin.

Bronzing up your face gives you what is aptly and famously dubbed the sun-kissed makeup look. We're celebrating summer all year long now! For Jennifer Lopez, meanwhile, the sun hasn't stopped shining since the 90s, which is when the diva's dusky goddess glow acquired legendary status. Sure enough, bronzer is indispensable to her routine, she revealed, per The Cut. To be precise, it's a $170 Serge Lutens cosmetic — if it's J. Lo-approved, you can't go wrong. A smart tip by makeup guru Ash K. Holm on using bronzers is: "It should be applied in the areas where the sun would naturally hit your skin" (via Vogue). Go for two shades deeper than your tone for a healthy, natural flush. 

Fake lashes to enhance your real beauty

No makeup look is complete without the silhouette of dramatically curled lashes. Whether you're gifted with long, thick flappers, or you invest in stick-on accessories, a pair of defined eyelashes can glam up your appearance like you wouldn't believe. Just ask the Kardashians! None have propelled falsies into the mainstream as the socialite clan has, given that showy lashes figure among their signature looks (via the Los Angeles Times). If you want to get in on some of that Kardashian lash action, their makeup artist Hrush Achemyan recommends the Alyssa #2 set from Huda Beauty, through which you can run three strokes of mascara, according to Allure. The mantra is to "wiggle the wand up." 

"It's a makeup artist's shortcut to elevate the eyes within seconds," celebrity makeup artist Marcia Williams dished to Byrdie. It wasn't always a split-second affair, though! Lashes have gone through a painful transformative history, from being completely plucked out when Medieval Europe declared it the ultimate fashion statement to extensions being sewn onto people's lids in 20th-century Paris. Yikes! Thankfully, all it takes to enhance your lashes today is a few bucks and a bit of adhesive. Lilly Lashes are all the red carpet rage, though a $6 set would do the job equally well (via Us Weekly). Go on, bring those coy eye flutters to life! 

An oh-so-luscious lined, glossy pucker

All the kitschy noughties fashion we indulged in and eventually retired is making a comeback — and how! Lip gloss is no more an artifact from the millennial days of yore. Those clear, shimmery liquid sticks have made their way back into makeup kits as the ultimate touch-up hack for the juiciest, fullest puckers one can imagine. 90s natives know that back in the day, the only right way to apply gloss was by overdoing it. The spirit of this extraordinary tool was best captured by self-professed gloss enthusiast Carrie Fisher, who wrote in "The Princess Diarist" (via Goodreads): "I had so much lip gloss on you might have slid off and broken your own lips if you tried to kiss me." 

The allure of the glassy pout is back in full force, more so in its most vintage of glories, combined with the trusty lip liner. An overline around your sticky gloss will emphasize "the natural curvature of the lips while giving your look a certain fierceness," makeup artist Mali Thomas says (via Vogue). Think supermodel fierceness exuded by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Iman, with their trademark glossed-up, lined-out lips! Pair the gloss with a dark liner for a convincing illusion of bigger lips. Hollywood makeup artist Sabrina Bedrani has signed off on this effortless summer look for how it can naturally brighten the wearer's face (per Coveteur). Don't forget to exfoliate and moisturize before glossing up! 

Channel doe-eyed energy with white liner

On a typically dull day or the morning after a heavy night out, all you need is a single white stroke along your waterline to bring yourself alive. One of the easiest fashion hacks in the rulebook, white eyeliner is an instant wake-up call for your eyes, making them appear fuller. It's the doe-eyed effect that has uplifted many a look since the scope of makeup was realized. "The doe eye trend is a rounded, wide-eyed look that gives the illusion of bigger eyes," according to makeup guru Moani Lee, who explains that the goal is to achieve a more natural, innocent look over kohl-heavy eyes (per CNN). While the doe eye (like its contending cat eye) has been a makeup fixture for years, platforms like TikTok have led newer generations to rediscover its gains through viral trends. 

Doll up with those classic Bambi eyes by tight-lining your lower lash line end-to-end with white; for extra definition, smudge a bit of that liner or a little highlighter around the inner corners of your eyes, Woman & Home suggests. Focusing on the lashes to make them appear thicker with mascara is an appealing add-on. As noted by Cosmopolitan, the white eyeliner hack is one that beauty queen Megan Fox uses frequently. Though the doe-eyed look stands out as a classic, don't hesitate to experiment by using white liquid and pencil liners to draw along the upper lid as well!