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From Fenty to CGI models: revisiting the beauty trends of the last decade

03 Jan 2020

Photography by Blue Split as part of gal-dem Secrets print issue

From microblading to contours and candy hair to blackfishing, we’ve really seen it all in the last decade when it comes to beauty. As we left the noughties behind, we left the trends it created, although some have made brief appearances in the ‘10s like tooth gems and lip gloss. But for the most part, the last10 decade has carved out its very own trends, some that we loved and we’ll carry with us in the ‘20s and some that should be firmly left behind.

Adding defined angles to our rounded faces, one of the biggest trends the decade has seen is highlight and contour, which became essential to most of our makeup routines. It started a revolution and those at the forefront of this movement were The Kardashians, after Kim uploaded a photo showing how shading and highlighting can chisel and shape your face. Despite being made popular by the Kardashians, the contour and highlight technique was actually co-opted from the drag scene and queer communities. Makeup artist Maddie Pearce told The Independent “contouring is as old as make-up itself. Contouring is widely used amongst the drag community and let’s face it, no one does it as good as they do.” Ain’t that the truth. This pattern would persist throughout the decade: innovations in beauty made sometimes decades before were picked up by the reality show clan and credited as Kardashian creations. As also seen with cornrows, full lips, and big bums.

Hailed as the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue, the rise of Pat McGrath Labs has defined the decade as a black-owned makeup business. The Mattetrance lipsticks and Mothership palettes have had us hooked. After working in the makeup industry for years Pat launched her company in 2015 and was the brains behind fashion week looks all over the world. Who could forget her iconic Christian Dior looks, including Spring 2014 where she gave the models bold gold eyes and eyebrows?

Blackfishing (a play on “Catfishing”, posing as somebody else online) was up there as one of the most offensive beauty trends of the decade. Social media was full to the brim with white people trying to look racially ambiguous with lip filler, taking tan to the next level and getting body shapes black women have been shamed for. As a result, black influencers were discarded in favour of white models who were blackfishing. In the words of Offset, they’ll “do anything for clout”. More trend controversy came this decade in the form of “Asian Facing” where people would create fake monolids which obviously upset a lot of people. 

“Rihanna showed us the importance of the arched brow on her legendary Vogue cover and the brow movement didn’t stop there”

The trend of eerily copying women of colour’s likeness continued with the number of black CGI models that were created by white men, which obviously begs the questions of fetishisation. While the creation of these models were without a doubt innovative, ultimately these CGI models were robbing real models jobs. 

Fenty Beauty took the world by storm, I tell no lies – Rihanna’s makeup brand made serious waves because of how inclusive it is. Since its inception in 2017, it has been praised for having a real focus on fitting skin tones and catering to darker shades. Let me tell you, Rihanna did that. 

Rihanna showed us the importance of the arched brow on her legendary Vogue cover and the brow movement didn’t stop there. I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t even heard the word “microblading” until about a year ago. This process involves a tattooing technique with several needles in order to create semi permanent brows. For people with thin brows or those that suffered from the effects of over-tweezing from the previous decade and want full brows, this could be for you.

Naturally, because brows being “on fleek” (which started as a tagline from Kayla Lewis’ Vine account in 2016) was a major movement throughout the decade. With 7 million Instagram posts about microbladed brows and 56% of us using a brow definer each day, is it any wonder that the end of 2019 saw us migrate from microbladed brows to laminated brows. Taking the bushy brow trend to the next level, laminated brows used a similar process to a lash lift but the result is a fuller and more defined brow. How very 2019.

“From Patricia Bright to Jackie Aina, both of whom now have their own beauty products out, the YouTubers have seriously stepped up their game”

At first, it was nothing more than a festival phase, but it grew into something much more permanent, glitter lips. As seen on various red carpets and events, glitter lips had a real moment. Who could forget Naomi Campbell rocking Pat McGrath’s iconic Lust glitter lipstick or Chrissy Teigen or Bella Hadid. More and more people seemed to be working the trend especially when brands brought out versions of the product that won’t budge all night long and are kiss-proof. On the subject of sparkles, glitter partings proved to be a very popular festival look. While some people could just wash this out the next day, the effort of combing and washing this out of afro hair is too painful to even consider. For real.

As if we didn’t already have a plethora of lip products for us on the market, this decade the beauty gods bestowed upon us wet to dry matte lipsticks. Although the birth of matte lipsticks happened long before the decade began we were introduced to a different kind; mattes that looked like glosses but dried on the lips to create a matte lipstick. Beauty innovation at its finest. In true Jenner/Kardashian form, Kylie Jenner capitalised on this creating Kylie Cosmetics which became a billion dollar company.

Not only did lip gloss have a moment, but lips, full lips became very a la mode, unless of course you are a woman of colour. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner poured filler into their lips and everywhere we turned we couldn’t escape the dreaded duck face. As lips grew bigger, so did bums, the Brazilian Bum Lift took the world by storm, but also resulted in the deaths of many people as it became one of the most deadliest cosmetic surgeries to undergo.

When it came to hair this decade, people were thinking outside the box as candy hair or unicorn hair was very popular throughout the decade. But it had a real moment with afro hair, when its on coils or buzz cuts. Issa look. Among the hair trends that this decade brought us, a favourite for celebrities was wet-look hair, which really does beg the question as to, why anyone thought this was a look. Social media was packed full of people attempting to gel their hair as if they had just stepped out of the shower. While this look was pretty easy for those with straighter hair, for those with afro hair types, it was most definitely a mission. 

While these styles might not have worked for black hair, black women dominated spaces online. If there’s anything that the ‘10s have given the beauty world that we can’t live without it’s definitely our beloved Youtube beauty gurus. From Patricia Bright to Jackie Aina, both of whom now have their own beauty products out, the YouTubers have seriously stepped up their game and directed traffic to different beauty products with the swatches and trails. Digital Surgeons reports that in 2017 there were 88 billion beauty-related video views on Youtube. But there has been a pretty ugly side of Youtube too, with a number of high profile beauty gurus like Jeffree Star accused of racism.

What will the 20’s bring? Will we see the return of the thin arched brow, or perhaps monobrow? Whatever trends the beauty world brings us in the upcoming decade, let’s leave the race mimicking firmly in the past.